All Articles Tagged "black hair"

Modern Day Samsons: Black Men And The Way They Cling To Their Hair

November 11th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Despite all of the think pieces, YouTube tutorials and natural hair conventions, Black women aren’t the only ones concerned or even obsessed with our hair. Though their methods are generally different than ours, Black men assign quite a bit of value to their hair as well, even at the expense of their cool.

And cool to Black folk is second only to our love of Jesus Christ.

In their younger days many Black men were immersed in the ways of cool. They knew how to wear their hair, whether it was a conk, curl, caesar or cornrows. They learn, relatively quickly, what to do to make the ladies take notice and the fellas stay up on their own hair care regimens.

They stayed abreast and aware and their hair reflected that. And life is good when your hair is right. But then there comes a time when these same men who once had their locks laid and their fades fresh lose all sense awareness and start clinging to what once was.

Dudes with the highly coveted, abundant and bouncy curls settle for a thinning and crumpled wave in order to keep the hair that tied them to their glory days.

Certainly by now, you know who I’m talking about. You saw the pictures of Jodeci’s resurgence on the scene, complete with DeVante Swing’s struggly and straggly side ponytail or man bun.




When you’re the king of the s-curl, it can be hard to abdicate the throne, even if everyone else around you has already accepted the fact that the reign is over.

And I know what some of you are thinking, that’s how those curly tops are. And that’s just not true. There are plenty of examples of men trying to hold on. My own father whose hair is more of a kinky texture, was hesitant to cut his own hair off, despite the fact he had lost much of it at the top. Personally, I always thought going bald was a strong option for men. Something to be embraced. But the way my dad was dragging his feet, when it was clear that the end was near, said otherwise.

My maternal grandfather, who is 95 is hanging on to the white wisps of hair that contrast with his dark skin, had the nerve to jokingly tease my father with the few strands he was still hanging on to. When the rest of us know, he too should have cut his hair at least twenty years ago. The man is just too vain for that.

Apparently it’s a trait he’s passed down to his children. Because my uncle who has a natural wave to his hair, became absolutely livid when my cousin, who had to have been 3 or 4 at the time, was standing behind him on the sofa playing in his bald spot. My uncle, feeling the tiny fingers rubbing and drumming on his scalp, said things to my cousin, he shouldn’t have said to a grown man more or less a child.

And if you’re thinking this is just about the more seasoned men, you’d be wrong about that too. My coworker delivered a full address to the women of MadameNoire about what a proper haircut can do for a man’s self esteem. Men who are rarely seen without a hat will be ready to let their follicles breathe. Homebodies will be ready to hit the streets. Shy dudes will be ready to approach the girl they’ve been crushing on for weeks.

I’ll never forget when my dreadlocks starting growing out, this guy who I had known since middle school made a point to let me know that back in the day when he had cornrows– years ago, his hair was longer than mine was present day.


But you see what I’m saying about the holding on, the clinging rather to the past glory day of their hair.

9 Times White Folks Tried To Claim A Black Trend As Their Own

November 4th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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9 times white folks tried to claim a black trend feat

When you consider the fact this country was founded on the principle of taking from others who had already been there and done that, it’s really not surprising that this behavior is still going on today, in smaller, more passive ways. Oh, don’t get it twisted the government is still figuratively raping and pillaging but that’s another story for another day.

What I’m talking about are the micro ways in which fashion magazines. pop culture websites and mainstream culture adopts vernacular, dances, hair and fashion trends from the Black community and pretends they’ve stumbled upon a new trend. It happens quite often.

Check out a few examples on the following pages.

And for more on this topic, check out the trailer for “Bleaching Black Culture,” which is available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon now.

How to Get Rid of Those Grey Hairs | Do The Wright Thing Ep. 1

November 4th, 2014 - By jade
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In this episode of Do The Wright Thing, celebrity hairstylist and SoftSheen-Carson’s Artistic Style Director,  Johnny Wright gives you a few tips on how to get rid of those unwanted grey hairs. With the Optimum Amla Legend Rejuvenating Miraculous Black Oil Hair Color, you will get 100% grey coverage and it comes in 3 different colors.

For more information on the Optimum Salon Haircare products, visit their website.

For episode 2 click here.

“It Could Be Powerful” Viola Davis Talks Removing Her Wig On “HTGAWM”

October 30th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Viola Davis Talks Removing Her Wig On "HTGAWM"

Source: ABC

In case you hadn’t noticed, Viola Davis is nothing like her character on “How To Get Away With Murder.” And in a recent interview with The Huffington Post, she explained why.

“Annalise Keating is all over the place. I’m concerned with my health. She just wants power. She wears a heavy duty mask every day, which must be exhausting. I couldn’t do it.”

While her character is certainly flawed, she represents a shift, an achievement in television for Black women.

“She redefined us as something bold and strong. We’re no longer supporting, we’re not necessarily nurturing, we’re not asexual. We’re none of it. And Shonda doesn’t apologize or make a big deal of it. So the viewer simply forgets, and we can all get on with the story.”

And a crucial part of Annalise’s story came when she needed to remove her mask, (the makeup) and wig to confront him about his discretions. It was a moment that resonated with the audience, particularly Black women.

It was Viola’s idea, actually.

“I pushed for that to happen. I said, ‘she’s not going to bed with her wig on.’ It could be powerful and liberating, but she’s got to take her wig off. Because who Annalise is in public is a big, fat lie and we have to see her taking off the armor, which is so thick, it becomes all the more dramatic when she removes it, and you see all the pain.”

Though she pushed for it, Viola still felt exposed when the time came to follow through.

“I did fell vulnerable but still not as vulnerable doing all the sex scenes. When I know members of my family are going to be watching.”


Sex scenes and wig removing, all in a days work with Shonda Rhimes.

“I Didn’t Want To Be Different” Tatyana Ali Talks About The Burden Of “Good Hair”

October 20th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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tatyana ali feat

Are you ready for another Black hair story? We’ve all heard tales of “good hair.” Either we had it or knew someone who inherited the coveted title through genetics or a combination of chemicals. However you were introduced to the term, you know it. The good hair discussion is an old and tired one. But one we’re clearly not over yet.

Usually, when we discuss this topic it’s from the prospective of people who was plagued by this term because people didn’t think they had “good hair.”

But in a recent interview with Vlad Tv, Tatyana Ali talks about how the label was something of a burden for her. It made her feel ostracized instead of privileged as we might assume it would.

It’s funny, when I was younger, it was something that set me apart and not necessarily in a good way, from other girls that I knew. Not that I was made fun but it felt like I was made to seem different. It’s interesting, the thing you think is a flaw. 

When Chris Rock did Good Hair, I was like ‘Oh my gosh, he should have interviewed me.’ Because I feel like there’s one side of the story, which he told really, really well. But then there’s the other side of the story. It’s boys and girls sometimes. You know you have like a group of cousins playing and you separate the children that way, you’re doing as much damage to the chid you’re calling out for having “good hair” as you are–because you’re creating this separation that’s not true. 

I grew up  wanting to be able to twist my hair and wear my hair like my mom did and my aunts did. Because I wanted to be like them, I didn’t want to be different. 

[Just that term “good hair”] is crazy. 

Caribbean people do it even worse. They’ll say crazy things like, ‘Oh yeah, she’s so dark but she has good hair.’ 

I know people who still use the term, not really understanding how it separates us and instead of celebrating, alienating certain children and even adults.

Have any of you had an experience like Tatyana’s?

5 Secrets To Getting Happy And Healthy Hair

October 17th, 2014 - By LaKrishia Armour
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Much of how we perceive ourselves physically, and for many of us, the confidence that we have in our looks, begins with how we feel about our hair. Negative thoughts—even passing ones—can wilt our flowers of self-esteem as we journey into developing a carefree attitude toward our hair. Whether you’re first going natural, years in, or struggling with relaxed strands, many of us often feel discontent with our locks when they don’t do what we want them to. But here are five things to remember in order to get happy about your hair and make those strands happy.

Progress doesn’t always equal perfection.

Take pride in your progress and don’t worry so much about having perfect hair. A quick inventory will prove that you’ve taken steps toward your hair goals. Okay, so you had a few too many wonky braid outs than you would have liked over the last two months, but through those struggles you learned what works for your hair and eventually started seeing the perfect crinkles you wanted to. Think of the times before when you had no idea what you were doing! Yes, you’ve come a long way. Small wins lead to bigger ones. Now celebrate your success!

hair is happy hair.

Create a simple daily or weekly routine that works for you and your lifestyle. As long as it creates a healthy result that improves your hair, or simply slashes time on wash day, it’s worth repeating. A superb conditioner and consistent nighttime routine works wonders against dryness and breakage. Moisture is your hair’s best friend–give your strands what they need.

Try new styles as often as you want.

Put a flower in your hair. Part it on the opposite side. Try a style you saw on Pinterest. To boost your confidence in locks, have fun with new hair adventures. Allow yourself the space to flow in and out of your comfort zone with your look. Let your inner beautician play instead of forcing her to remain on stand-by while you fashion your hair into a dry top knot for the sixth day in a row. A few flexi-rods, hair clips and a vision of tousled, no-heat mermaid waves will get your creative mojo going (As will a packet of bleach, leftover weave and a bottle of dye).

Become your hair’s hype woman.

When you feel yourself getting discouraged, choose to hype up the good things about your hair. Think instead about what you’re learning about your strands as opposed to allowing yourself to get super stressed about things your hair isn’t doing to cooperate. There are more good qualities your hair exhibits than terrible ones. There’s nothing silly about a little hair affirmation. If all you do is roll your eyes in the mirror and giggle after repeating the phrase, “Today is the best hair day of my life” three times, the affirmation worked!

Let your hair be.

Accept the head of hair you have. More importantly, appreciate and love that head of hair. Wear it proudly. Swing your relaxed mane, fluff up your ‘fro or let your spirals bounce in the wind. Play up what you’ve got. Your hair, relaxed or natural, will become “good” enough when you break the habit of comparing your hair to others, and you’ll be happier with how it behaves. You’ll realize you’ve got the best head of hair—a happy one.

Black Hair Care Innovator, Comer Cottrell, Creator Of The Curly Kit, Has Died

October 13th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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One of the most famous Jheri Curls of all time on one of the best characters the movies has ever seen, Samuel L. Jackson's Jules Winnfield from "Pulp Fiction."

One of the most famous Jheri Curls of all time on one of the best characters the movies has ever seen, Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules Winnfield from “Pulp Fiction.”

There was a time when Jheri Curls were all the rage. Comer Cottrell, creator of the Curly Kit, helped make the hairstyle even more popular and in the process built a Black hair care empire. Cottrell died on October 10 at the age of 82.

The Curly Kit, an in-home hair treatment, let people get the Jheri Curl hairstyle popularized by Michael Jackson at an affordable price instead of going to a salon. But there was more to Cottrell’s Black hair company than just Jheri Curls.

Cottrell started Pro-Line Corp. in 1972 and it grew from an initial investment of $600 to more than $10 million in annual sales. “Along with his brother, James, and another partner, Cottrell opened the Pro-Line Corporation in downtown Los Angeles in 1970. They rented a small warehouse, borrowed a typewriter from Comer Cottrell’s daughter, took $600 from savings and started mixing hair-care products by hand,” reports The New York Times.  “The partners came up with a way to replicate a hair style called the Jheri curl — named for Jheri Redding, who invented it — that involved softening the hair with one solution and curling it with another.”

Pro-Line’s kit was innovative. “With the release of its signature Curly Kit in 1979, the company ‘democratized the Jheri curl,’ according to Lori L. Tharps, co-author of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. Cottrell’s Curly Kit allowed African-Americans to fashion their own hair in the popular style for just $8; salon prices at the time of its release often cost upwards of $200,” reports The Grio.

“We looked at the curl process and saw it really was a simple process and people could do it themselves. It was no secret,” Cottrell told the Dallas Observer in 1996. In 2000, Cottrell sold Pro-Line for $80 million to Alberto Culver, according to the Daily Mail.

Cottrell was also a philanthropist and activist, serving as the leader of the Los Angeles Black Businessman’s Association in the 1970s. The organization helped local African-American businesses land federal contracts. He bought Bishop College for $3 million, renovated its campus, and helped move historically black Paul Quinn College to 144 acres just south of Dallas. In politics, Cottrell leaned Republican, helping the 1995 election of Ron Kirk, Dallas’ first Black mayor.

In 1980, Cottrell moved to Dallas, later becoming the first Black owner of a Major League Baseball team in 1989, co-owning the Texas Rangers with an investing group that included future President George W. Bush.

Sisters Break Into Challenging Hair Industry To Open Beauty Supply Store

September 10th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Most of us know that 9 times out of 10 when you go to the Beauty Supply, the owners and operators of the store are Korean-American. Despite residing in predominately Black neighborhoods and selling to predominately Black clientele, the store owners rarely reflect the demographic they serve.

This is why sisters Judian and Kadeian Brown’s store is so different. These two Black women, who are also licensed beauticians, own and operate Black Girls Divine Beauty Supply and Salon located off of Church Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn

Judian told the New York Times that she often encounters patrons who are surprised to learn that she and her sister own the store instead of just working there.

“I go, ‘Look at all the faces on the boxes. Who should be owning these stores?”

While we could all agree that more Black people should own these stores, that’s not the case around the nation. Of around 10,000 stores that sell hair products to Black women, only a handful of them are owned by Blacks.

According to the Times, Korean- Americans have owned and operated beauty supply stores in Black neighborhoods since as early as the 1960s. These ownerships fueled tensions between the consumers and business owners. There were complaints of racist Korean-American owners following Black customers around the store, assuming that they were going to shoplift. And others took issue because they see Korean dominance in the industry as a way to profit off of Blacks while simultaneously disenfranchising them.

Yet, historically and even today, that discontent has rarely resulted in Black consumers choosing to shop and support Black owned beauty supplies in large numbers, across the nation.

And in many cases, Blacks who were trying to break into the market, faced enormous challenges.

Black store owners ran into problems because wholesalers, who are often Korean, require retailers to buy in bulk to qualify for discounts. Where first-time Korean owners can join forces to split the costs among several store owners, the network of Black beauty supply owners is much smaller.

In Detroit, Princess Hill explained that she would have to order 10,000 berets to get a 50 percent discount and free shipping. But in reality, she might only sell 100 berets in a year.

The inability to get a discount up front often accounts for the higher costs Black owners have to charge their patrons, leading consumers to shop elsewhere and business owners to struggle and eventually close while Korean-owned stores thrive.

But Kaysong Lee, the publisher Beauty Times, says Korea-Americans shouldn’t be demonized for their enterprise.

Lori Tharps, co-author of Hair Story, said before the influx of Korean-American shop owners, there was no one serving the African American market in this way. Instead, Blacks often bought their hair care products from salesmen who traveled door to door.

“A lot of people think these people were taking it away from Black owners, but that’s not the case. They were creating new businesses. And they were doing it in places where nobody wanted to open a store.”

The challenges of breaking into a tough market, make Judian and Kadeian’s story all the more inspiring.

If you’re in the New York City area, you can visit their beauty supply and salon, Black Girls Divine at 3904 Church Ave in Brooklyn, New York.

Ask Dr. Renee: Why Is My Hair Falling Out?

September 5th, 2014 - By Dr. Renee Matthews
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

September is Alopecia areata awareness month. Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune skin disease that causes loss of hair on the body. It usually presents as one or two small, round, smooth patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss (alopecia totalis) or complete body hair loss (alopecia universalis). It affects about 6.5 million people in the United States. The disease is unpredictable, hair can grow back in or fall out again at any time. Another form of alopecia that is not due to the autoimmune skin disease effects many people in our community.

What Is Traction Alopecia?

In 2014, there are many ladies that have worn weaves in the past or are currently wearing them. Another popular protective style for naturalista’s are braid hairstyles. When any type of tension is applied heavily to the scalp it leaves room for traction alopecia to appear. Traction alopecia is reversible if diagnosed early, but may lead to permanent hair loss if it is undetected for a protracted period. Hair loss is often in the frontal and temporal regions, but also depends on the hairstyle. With those who wear cornrows, the area most commonly affected is that adjacent to the area that is braided. This condition can also be seen in constant ponytail wearers that pull the hair too tight. Traction Alopecia can also occur due to overprocessing of the hair. Chemical treatment of hair with dyes, bleaches, or straighteners disrupts the keratin structure in a manner that reduces its tensile strength. The hair can become fragile and heavy fall out can occur with brushing or combing.

The use of thermal or chemical hair straightening, and hair braiding or weaving are examples of styling techniques that place African American women at high risk for various “traumatic” alopecias. It is very important if you notice that your edges are becoming thin you change your hairstyle so that less pressure is being applied to your hair. If you don’t you may permanently lose your hair and the only treatment would be a hair transplant.

What Is Hair Transplant Surgery?

Hair transplant surgery uses the follicular unit hair grafts to provide new hair growth to those areas affected by traction alopecia. Donor hair is harvested from the back and sides of the head and transplanted to areas where there is hair loss. The result is new hair growth that is both permanent, and natural looking. After surgery it is important that you not wear your hair in the style that caused the traction alopecia or it will return.

My Story

This condition is very personal to me. On December 9, 2009 my maternal grandmother died, February 9, 2010 my paternal grandmother died. I noticed somewhere around January/February that my hair had completely fallen out in 2 half dollar sized sections in the front of my hair. The bald spots were so clean it appeared as if my hair was NEVER going to grow back. I regularly got my hair done at the salon and my stylist had no explanation for the hair loss. We both agreed I needed to go to the dermatologist and find out exactly what was happening to my hair. The dermatologist took a biopsy of my scalp and the results were non-scarring alopecia. The hair loss is believed to be due to the stress of losing my two grandmothers 60 days apart. She prescribed some drugs and I immediately started treating the areas. A couple months passed and I was wearing headbands to hide the spots because nothing was happening. I had heard about a specific over-the-counter treatment but had ignored it for sometime. I finally did some research and decided that this OTC treatment may work. I saw results in 10 days, my hairstylist saw it as well. When I returned to the dermatologist she was very impressed that my treatment worked.

What Did I Use?

I used miconazole nitrate 2%, this drug is found in every drugstore. Miconazole nitrate is an antifungal drug; if you have a fungus on your scalp this will definitely treat the condition. It will also oxidize your hair follicles, which will promote them to grow. I used a pea sized amount on each bald spot, once in the morning and again at night. In a couple months my hair had grown back to the same length as the surrounding hair and no one could tell I ever had alopecia.

I recommend that when you get any hairstyle that will cause pulling your hair you see a professional. I know sometimes we want to save money by paying a young college student or another person that is not a licensed cosmetologist to do our hair. If someone pulls your hair so tight that you have to take pain medicine to fall asleep or you can not lay down without being in pain, it is TOO tight. It is very important to take care of your edges no matter what style you have. If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to Ask Dr. Renee.


Source: Ask Dr. Renee

Source: Ask Dr. Renee


Dr. Renee Matthews has appeared on television shows such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and WGN’s “People to People”  where she discussed different health topics. She started her media career with her own radio show on ReachMD, a programming source for health professionals. In addition Dr. Renee has been a featured medical correspondent on Sirius XM’s “Sway in the Morning.” 

Dr. Renee earned her undergraduate degree in 1999 and her Medical Doctorate in 2005. She spent the early part of her medical career as an educator for numerous hospitals and attending staff on cord blood. 

Twitter: @AskDrRenee


I Am Sick Of Talking (Reading) About Black Hair – And Here’s Why…

September 3rd, 2014 - By Ezinne Ukoha
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I am sick of talking about Black hair because there is nothing you can say that I haven’t heard before. All the main topics for discussion have been analyzed, scrutinized and summarized in endless ways; and quite frankly, I am appalled at the idea that we need to be mercilessly reminded that “natural hair” is a problem that not only needs solving, but won’t ever go away. Or that relaxed hair is so damn fragile that any unnecessary procedure is a risk you don’t want to take. And of course now that we have embraced the era of keratin treatments, all bets are off.

Going to the gym for the week? Be sure to check in with your trusty hair blogger(s), so that you ensure that your relaxed mane won’t suffer the consequences that will surely stem from your arduous workout. How many times have you stumbled upon articles that repeatedly emulate ways to manage your unruly tresses or offer pages filled with products that they swear will end your dry spell? Aren’t you tired of being invited to Hair Blogger events, meetups and seminars? Every time you think you have mastered a regimen that converts your Z pattern hair to a C pattern (if that’s even possible), someone else demonstrates on YouTube, that they have a much better and faster alternative. We are going around in circles and wearing ourselves out in the process.

No matter how many times the debate surrounding natural vs. relaxed, texturizing vs. retexurizing, etc, are tackled, the level of interest never ceases to amaze me. Those pieces typically skyrocket in the comment section of every blog. The conversations are identical to the ones from the previous week and the week before that. But somehow, there is that possibility that someone may have found a cure to our never-ending nightmare. So we continue to indulge and give the growing number of hair bloggers something to do. We are desperately hoping that through extensive research and sheer determination, they will stumble upon the product that will in fact transform our stubborn accessory into the shiny, soft, easy to pamper version that unfortunately most of us were not genetically blessed with.

Believe me, I feel your pain. I am not sure what pattern I am currently sporting, but I can confidently say that it isn’t the most sought after category. I have never been told that I have “bad hair”  but the sympathetic glances I received back in the day when I used to faithfully visit hair salons was all the proof I needed. And the stylists would jokingly vocalize how my hair needed special attention because of its coarse nature. I bought into that nonsense until I realized how much money I was spending on mandated conditioning treatments and steaming sessions. We are coerced into believing that our hair can’t survive or we can’t look like decent human beings unless we empty our bank account and get a loan. Or better yet, do a little extra work in the bedroom so that your boo can pay for the new look we have planned for the fall.

But just because I understand the complexity that comes with having Black hair doesn’t mean I need to be bombarded with the same tired solutions every freakin day. It also doesn’t mean that we need to hear the same testimonies that breed the exact same results and inspire identical reactions. ‘The Big Chop” was somewhat inspiring when the “natural hair movement” became this instant phenomenon, but aren’t we over it yet? How many times are we supposed to cheer for women who finally decide to be brave enough to sport their unaltered texture? The story about women who after disastrous hair appointments are forced to “go natural,” and then pleasantly discover how much they love embracing their roots is so played out it’s pathetic. Tell it someone who actually cares! Oh, but wait, that’s the problem. So many of you do care, and I don’t understand why.

I am aware that Black women are not the only ones who try find ways to battle the elements in order to ensure that our crowning glory is intact. But we are the only ones who have turned our battle into a global enterprise. All we talk about is hair. All we think about hair. We can’t get enough of it because we are obsessed. Click on any site that caters to Black women and the main page is almost always littered with hair topics – some of them new postings, some recycled or restructured. It’s a dizzying ride to nowhere. Nobody is going to do a better job caring for your hair than you. You have all the answers and only you can convince yourself that, despite all its shortcomings, your hair isn’t as intimidating as you have been made to believe. So give yourself a break and just deal with it, and give us all a break while you’re at it.