Savannah James on Her Hair Journey, Mother-Daughter Beauty Rituals, and Staying True to Herself

Tuesday, February 7, 2023, was technically NBA star and Los Angeles Laker LeBron James’s night. Late in the third quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder, James recorded his 38,388th career point—the most in league history, surpassing a record Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held for over four decades. All eyes were on King James. That is, until his high school sweetheart and wife Savannah James appeared before the cameras. 

Photos of Mrs. James, beaming with pride and dressed in a cream pinstripe suit, soon flooded social media. And amid the countless comments congratulating her husband, a chorus of praise was heaped upon her—both for her unwavering support and poised demeanor, but also for her stunning mane of blonde hair, parted deep at the side and cascading to her elbows with a few soft waves. A month later, James and her honeyed bombshell waves inspired similar awe above a custom white mermaid gown by Sergio Hudson (who dubbed James his “new muse”) at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party.

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“I’m really having a lot of fun with this blonde,” she tells Vogue. It’s the Friday after her husband’s record-breaking night, and James is in her sun-drenched home in L.A. on Zoom, walking us through her hair journey from press-and-curls, to relaxers, to natural wash-n-gos to voluminous blanched waves. “I always wanted to try blonde, but I was afraid to dye my hair because of the upkeep. And then one day I was just like, “‘I’m going to see what the blonde is giving.’” James didn’t bleach her own hair, but she did start experimenting with blonde wigs. Her consensus upon seeing herself in the new color? “Oh, okay, she cute,” she says, laughing. “I’ve been blonde for probably two years now, and I like it a lot.”            

Like many Black women, James’s earliest hair care memories are of wash days with her mother in their Akron, Ohio kitchen. “We did in-the-sink hair washes and by-the-stove press outs,” she says, adding that when the task became too arduous for her mother, she began going to her first stylist, Miss Thompson. “I’d pick off the board which style I wanted that week [and] my go-to was usually some kind of ponytail with spiral curls and baby hair.” At around ten, James started getting relaxers and keenly paying attention to her mother’s hair routine. “My mom has always had a gorgeous head of hair,” she says. “I used to sit on the floor and watch her do her roller sets in front of the mirror. She would roll her hair and then sit under one of those dryers that puffs up.” 

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