"She had another stylist for the third season to create her new short coif," says Derek J. , who styled NeNe's hair for the series first reunion show and throughout its second season. Derek J, owner of The J. Spot Salon, also took R&B singer Tweet to shorter lengths using the same weaving technique.
Since Leakes' debuted the Derek J-styled short-weaved look two years ago, more women have requested similar styling that would allow them to don a spiky pixie cut -- like his clients Nicole Ari Parker and Terri J. Vaughn -- without sacrificing their long tresses. This is one of the reasons for the faux cut's popularity.
The weave's color, how it's cut and styling are key to successfully pulling this look off, Derek J says. "The cut is really big because you want it to lay and flow like natural hair," he stresses.
The short-weaved style is commonly referred to as a quick weave or 27 piece, taken from the name of multi-length 27-piece human hair wefts such as those offered from Milky Way's ShortCut series. Although Derek J gave Leakes a sew-in, he prefers to design the look by gluing wefts of hair to a stocking cap, essentially creating a wig and more flexibility for the client.
In all it takes about 90 minutes to create the look from start to finish. "It's like a custom wig once it's done," says Derek J.
The Ohio native suggests using darker hair versus lighter hair because "the lighter you go the more plastic it looks," he warns. If you can't live without color, he suggests using darker hair around the edges and back of the head and going lighter on top. "But people don't get it," Derek J says, explaining that, "with lighter hair you're taking a risk at looking wiggish."
He also cautions against using too much hair oil and other products that could interfere with the hair's fluidity, making it look hard and very stiff. "Even with short hair you still want a lot of movement," says Derek J, suggesting keeping the look no longer than a month. "If you need to wash it, see your hairstylist instead of doing it yourself because it is glued to a stocking cap and could fall apart."
Although there are 27 piece do-it-yourself videos on YouTube, Derek J says the style shouldn't be done without a professional because it's too tedious to do it right. "Anybody can do anything at home, but how it looks at the end is a different story," Derek J says.
Derek J recently served as a judge on the Oxygen Network's hair competition show "Hair Battle Spectacular" and was featured in Chris Rock's 2009 documentary "Good Hair."