Essence Justine Kelly
Credit: Josh Brasted

New Orleans is a walking city and there are a ton of historic sites, outdoor cafes, and street performances to take in. That's part of what NOLA newbie Justine Skye is loving about her first time in the city. In town for the annual Essence Festival, the 19-year-old singer and social media phenomenon took a few minutes to talk about purple hair, unicorns, skateboards, and the secrets of milk of magnesia.

The Big Easy: This is my first time in New Orleans and I love it so much. Everyone is just so nice and the weather is really hot. It’s like a mixture of the Caribbean and the city. I was walking around last night and it kind of reminded me of Jamaica.

Boarded Up: My skateboard is dead or else I would have it here right now. Everyone wants to use it so they use up all the batteries. I let everyone try it out, but they’re breaking it—it’s falling apart now.

Magical Unicorns: My hair has been purple since I was 16. Everyone sees me as the purple girl. I was in the studio one day recording and someone said this sounds so magical and I was like ‘Yeah, it is really magical.’ And they were like you are like a Purple Unicorn. And I was like “Wait I am a unicorn.” I look it up and unicorns are majestic, beautiful, strong and smart. I just felt like this [color] embodies who I am and who my fan base is. That's why they are called The Unicorn Nation.

The Color Purple: My favorite color is green but my Mom wouldn’t let me dye my hair green. But I’m glad, because purple has become such a statement for me. When people see the color purple they think of me now. So thanks Mom!

To Dye For: When I was dying it at first, I had to bleach my hair so it’s really, really light—almost white. And then I used a bunch of different dyes. I’ve used Manic Panic and Pure—any dye that is purple and distinct and vibrant. I mix it all together. Then I just blot it on my hair like conditioner. It’s only one color so I don’t have to be as precise as possible on where it goes. I let it sit for like an hour under a dryer. Sometimes, I forget I have purple hair sometimes. It’s subtle – very cool and funky. When I’m in the dark, people think it’s black and, when I’m in the sun, people are like "Oh My God, your hair is purple." So it’s cool without being too crazy.

Matte Magic: It’s so hot here; a cool trick for makeup is to put milk of magnesia under your makeup. It keeps the makeup matte.