Yahoo’s Diversity in Beauty Awards (DIBs) highlight and celebrate personalities, brands, and products that embody inclusiveness and innovation. We enlisted eight experts who have championed diversity in their careers and cover all bases of the beauty industry to vote on the best in makeup, skin care, hair care, and more. Here, we profile DIBs judge, celebrity hairstylist, and Dove curl expert Cynthia Alvarez, who has worked with some of today’s hottest celebrities.
Cynthia Alvarez was able to climb the hair industry ladder through hard work and determination. Initially, her parents were not huge supporters of her decision to go to beauty school, and she admits forging her father’s signature to take out a loan in order to attend.
But Alvarez was able to pay off the loan with money made from one of her first big hair gigs — traveling on tour with Alicia Keys. At the time, Alvarez was only 20 years old. From there, her highlight reel began to shine brightly, leading her to work with other stars like Shakira, Keke Palmer, and Dascha Polanco.
When it comes to selecting the best products for her diverse clientele, Alvarez now feels more confident that she can find inclusive hair care at beauty supply stores and major retailers. But she admits that it wasn’t always so easy.
“I remember growing up, and it was like you had your white products and you had your black products. With me being Latina, it was like, ‘Which products do we get?’ My family and I, we didn’t really know which to choose,” she says.
“Now, there’s a great range of products. You still have your quintessential products geared toward Caucasians, but now there’s a plethora of products geared toward mixed textures that are growing in popularity.”
Alvarez’s know-how is evident in the red carpet and fashion-forward hairstyles she’s mastered. About two years ago, she created a gray-haired look for Orange Is the New Black actress Dascha Polanco, inspiring many other women to dye their hair like Polanco’s or embrace their natural gray. It was such a trending hue in 2015 and 2016 that InStyle and Allure dedicated features to celebrities and influencers rocking gray hair, which included Alvarez’s work on Polanco, of course.
Alvarez also lends her expertise to DIBs’s most inclusive hair care brand, Dove, as a curl expert. “You have brands like Dove that are catering their products toward Latinas and African-Americans, and I think it’s just really a great time,” she says.
If you walk through the aisles of most mass retailers, you will probably notice Dove’s Quench Absolute line, specifically designed “for curly, coarse hair” types. As an ambassador for the brand, Alvarez serves as a voice for women with curlier hair textures and helps the brand to elevate its knowledge of hair needs specific to African-American and Latina women.
During a heart-warming segment with The Today Show in 2015, Alvarez teamed up with Dove to show women and girls how to take maintain and style their naturally curly hair instead of exhausting all of their energy, time, and money on straightening their strands.
Clearly, Alvarez is the leader the beauty industry needs to help push the needle forward in creating hair care for all.
Read more from Yahoo Style and Beauty:
- This Makeup Artist Saw the Cosmetics Industry Failing Women of Color — and Changed It
- Yahoo’s Diversity in Beauty Awards: Celebrating Inclusiveness and Innovation
- Meet the Most ‘Political’ Beauty Vlogger on YouTube