The actress opens up about her ever-changing mane

By Sarah Kinonen
Updated July 26, 2016 01:00 PM

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for People en Esp

One scroll through actress Dascha Polanco’s Instagram feed and you’d almost mistake it for a colorful #hairspiration Pinterest board. The Orange Is the New Black star, who isn’t afraid of experimenting with bold colors, styles and lengths, is all about having fun with her hair on the red carpet. And because we admire her tress confidence, we sat down with Polanco to learn all about the origin of her now-famous single blonde streak, the hairstyle she can’t wait to try next and more!

Why do you love experimenting with your hair?
“It’s what I like to do. Historically, I have done braids. I have dyed my hair. These are things I’ve always done. Now I’m doing it in the public eye. This is something that isn’t the norm for me. It’s being able to own it. Not everybody is going to like it and not everybody is going to approve of it, but I approve of it. It makes [me] feel confident, especially when I am working on my self-confidence and loving myself more. I preach about self-love and embracing my curves, so my hair is very important to me. I think hair for many people is an artistic expression of one self and you really can’t take that away from anyone. You can cut your hair, you can let it grow, you can color it. It’s all to each his own.”

Can you walk me through you and your glam squad’s creative process?
“The process is like this: ‘What have we done? What are we doing next?’ This is all me. If feel like I want to have my hair really, really long like a mermaid and the ocean then we’re gonna go for a beachy, long wave look. For inspiration, I follow some hair editorials, and we’ll search for ponytails and look at different ponytails. And I’m like yeah but I want a ponytail that kind of looks like different Barbie ponytails. It’s more based on what I am thinking of, where we’re going.”

What has been your favorite look so far?
“You know, I love my curly hair. And I love the fact that even though I am now doing more with a lot of hair, a lot of curly, I think my first the gray and the lavender were something that broke me into the world saying look this is how creative and daring I am. I know I got a lot of positive feedback from it. I am tired of just following the norm. In a world where we always follow certain celebrities, and you see the world follow them, I want to go away from that being a public figure myself. I always want to do my own thing.”

Was there a hairstyle you were doubtful about but ended up loving?
“The gray! The pink! I think every moment you see that I come out with a new color I get nervous. I have anxiety. Is it gonna work? Have I pushed the envelope too far, or is it going to be something people are going to fall in love? And so far, every time I get those emotions, it’s successful. It’s also the fact that I own it at the moment.”

Speaking of hair color, is your blonde streak going to stick around after OITNB?
“The streak is my original look — I came into the OITNB audition with it. It’s funny because I was freaking out. You don’t want to go to an audition looking too edgy. They usually like one color or tone. I was a little nervous and all of a sudden it worked perfectly for the role. [The blonde streak] gives Dayanara a little edge and a little sassiness.”

RELATED VIDEO: Dascha Polanco Tells Us Why Season 3 of Orange Is the New Black Is Different than the First Two

The gold ponytail you rocked recently was sassy.
“It was 24-carat gold, just to be clear. You get some shade from people telling you, ‘Oh look at your gold dandruff.’ I was like, ‘Honey, this is 24-carat gold dandruff.'”

What’s more fun: Doing your hair or your makeup?
“For me, I think my hair is more fun. My makeup, to me, I put on liner and lipstick, but I wish I didn’t have to wear makeup to take pictures without it. Just put liner and lipstick. So much foundation and so much ugh. Then you have to wipe it all off. My hair I could swing it. I can make it smell good. I can hair flip it.”

What is your haircare routine like?
“Culturally, I’m from the Dominican Republic, so hair treatment is essential. We do deep-conditioning once a week. You gotta use the dryer, like the hair rollers, you get under there with a plastic shower cap and you take the heat and do a hot-heat treatment, or you do oils like coconut oil, cinnamon essence, rosemary, you rub those in once a week as well. You can mix them into your conditioner (or as is) and put it into your scalp. I am doing rosemary essence and cinnamon and coconut so I can stimulate and hydrate my hair follicles because I have very fine, thin hair and, unfortunately, I over-processed it and lost a lot of my curls.”

Is there a look you haven’t done that you’ve been wanting to try?
“I haven’t done dreads. I’ve also been dying to do like a big, big volume curl frizz look. Like it’s humid outside and frizzy, frizzy, frizzy.”

Is there a look you wouldn’t try?
“I wouldn’t try a buzz cut. Only for a movie.”

Do you like experimenting with your hair like Dascha? Share below!

–Sarah Kinonen