Food and feelings: that’s what Sophia Roe excels at discussing. This Brooklyn-based chef is known for keeping things utterly, unfailingly real—whether she’s opening up about her past as a foster-care kid or simply sharing kitchen tips in her new video series, Eat The Rainbow. Her outlook on beauty is at once enthusiastic and thoughtful; she rattles off product recommendations and philosophical musings with equal ease. Here, she riffs on YouTube commenters, injectables, and why she cuts her own hair.
Tell us about Eat The Rainbow, your series on Violette's channel.
Violette and I are friends, and we look at food and beauty the same way; she’s very inspired by color and mood. If you think about colors with food, cooking is a piece of cake. I’m not saying my recipes are biblical. It’s more about saying you need oil, acid, emulsifier—figure it out, you do you. It’s an effort to make food easier, more fun, and less intimidating.
PERFECTION IS NEVER REALISTIC.
What kind of feedback are you getting so far?
Ninety-nine percent of it is great. People are mostly happy and positive. A few people don’t like that I’m cooking with exposed armpits, because God forbid I wear a tank top in my own home. Maybe one percent of people don’t like my tattoos, but I always tell people, “Hey, any restaurant you’ve ever been in, I guarantee that whoever’s making your food is fucking covered in them.” Oh, and two people said something about my “nasty Afro hair.” Some people don’t understand.
Well, let's talk about your hair, because your curls are gorgeous. Do you co-wash?
I break it down by month. I wash my hair twice a month. People always want to know how I’m able to facilitate that length of time. Number one, my hair is very long, which makes it a little easier to deal with. I have fewer tangles than I did when it was short. Number two, I protective-style. I almost always have my hair in braids. Some nights, I just get my hair wet and put it in braids; I don’t wash it, I just put some deep conditioner in it, put it in braids, and wear it like that for the next five days.
The one thing that I try to make sure that I’m doing is take care of my scalp. In between washes, I have a mist—apple cider vinegar mixed with tea tree and water—that I spray on my scalp every night. I’m unwavering with that. At 10 or 12 days, I assess: Do I need to wash? In the cold months, I can wash twice a month. When it gets hot, I’m washing my hair more frequently. I use a clarifying shampoo because if I’m going to wash my hair, I want it clean. And I have always cut my own hair.
I have never had a professional haircut in my life. Eight years ago, I decided I wanted bangs. I went to two different people and they both said it wouldn’t work with my texture. I said, “Well, Donna Summer did it.” She’s my style icon; everything I do in my life is me trying to be like Donna Summer, basically. So I cut bangs myself and for six months, my bangs acted up while I trained them. You’ve gotta talk to your hair. You’ve got to tell it, “I love you today. You’re going to kill it today. You look amazing.”
You have a few streaks of silver --
Oh, I have a lot of streaks. A lot.
How do you feel about them?
I love them. It’s like I got hit in the head with the wisdom stick. Little do people know, my secret is laziness. This isn’t a statement, this is me being lazy! And it’s funny—I have gray body hair, too. As a person who basically shares genes with a squirrel, I’m glad that body hair is having a moment. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about my body hair.
I DID LASER HAIR REMOVAL... MY DREAMS OF HAVING A '70S DISCO BUSH ARE GONE.
I mean, I did laser hair removal from the knee to under my belly button. Got all that handled, and now my dreams of having a ’70s disco bush are gone. So I tell younger girls to be careful about what you do with your body, because you never know!
I think it’s the same with fillers and Botox. Do what you need to do; just be mindful of what that could be in 20 years and how you might feel about that. I’m not saying no to a little filler here and a little Botox here when you’re ready. Do I feel like I need it right now? No, but when I’m 40, and I want a little something? Sure. I think it’s about being mindful of why you’re doing something. Do you really want it or are you being influenced by imagery that you’ve seen? I feel that beauty as a whole has to be personal. It has to be. I’m very much like Warhol about it—nothing can be beautiful unless everything’s beautiful. It sounds really cliché, but if you don’t love yourself with a pimple, you’re not going to love yourself without one.
Last question. What are you unapologetic for?
Everything. Anything. I mean, everything. Whenever people say, “Oh, you’re so brave to share that story,” I’m like, “Well, no, that’s the truth.” If we start making the truth an act of bravery, that’s dangerous territory. Telling the truth isn’t brave. Telling the truth just is. Truth is very bitter at the beginning and sweet in the end.
Sophia Roe photographed in Brooklyn, NY by Ford.