All Articles Tagged "natural hair"
By Ayana Walker
All photos courtesy of Natural Hair Kids Instagram
We’re partnering up with Natural Hair Kids blog to share some of their invaluable tips and ideas for taking care of your child’s natural hair. Since moisture is so important to natural hair, find out the best oils that promote hair growth for your child–and your hair, too!
Natural oils are often miracle elixirs for every hair type out there. The use of these oils for hair growth date back many, many centuries, and for good reason. These oils help promote healthy hair growth, repair damaged hair, stop breakage, and soothe a dry, itchy scalp. Check out these amazing oils and how they can help grow your child’s hair.
Almond oil is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. It benefits hair by:
Promoting hair growth
Sealing in moisture
Improving hair shine
Relieving dryness and inflammation
It’s great that Sheryl Underwood went on national television and begged the Black community for forgiveness, but my question is when is the community going to apologize to her?
What I mean is that earlier this week, Underwood sat with her co-hosts on The Talk and apologized again for comments she made previously about natural Black hair. More specifically, in 2013, Underwood called model and “Project Runway” host Heidi Klum’s decision to save clippings of her biracial children’s hair as a personal keepsake, “nasty.” And she also said:
“I’m sorry, but why would you save afro hair? You can’t weave in afro hair. You will never see us at the hair place like, look here what I need is this curly, nappy, beaded…that just seems nasty.”
She not only apologized and explained how she had learned some things about herself since then, but she appeared on the show without a wig or a weave on. That’s right: she did a big natural hair reveal, which at this point is becoming a pretty trite film and television plot device.
I know. That’s shady, but somebody had to say it…
Anyway, what’s interesting about her apology to the community is that she also took the opportunity to talk about the cold reception she received after making that horrible joke. On the show, she said that she was called names like “coon,” “Uncle Tom” and “HN,” which is the TV-appropriate language for calling someone a “house negro.”
Underwood said that while she was personally hurt by the words, she also understood the hurt feelings behind them. In particular, feelings of betrayal for talking bad about natural Black hair on a show with an audience of predominately White people.
But while Underwood may get it, I don’t quite understand why any of that was okay. In fact, I don’t even know why she felt the need to apologize to the Black community at all.
Granted, it was an awful joke. But what is even more awful is that this is how Underwood not only felt about Black hair in general, but her natural hair specifically.
Still, I too remember the reaction she received. In fact, I wrote a piece about it. And in addition to calling her a “coon” and “HN,” she was also called “black gorilla” and told she looked like Wesley Snipes. And many of those comments came out of the mouths of other Black people.
I said then about those racial comments:
“It seems like Underwood is not the only one here with some internalized hate. I wish I could say that these have been isolated comments, but these reactions have pretty much been noticeably consistent since the start of the controversy. And it’s not just Twitter. I have been reading some severe dirt-dragging based solely on Underwood’s looks throughout the blogosphere. It’s quite interesting that those, who in their defense of natural hair, are using such racially charged and inflammatory language as “monkey,” and “gorilla” or making fun of her black gums (which likely is caused from having excess melanin in the skin) and comparing her features to that of a man.”
Was Underwood wrong for the joke? She sure was. Did she need to be checked? Yes. But we should also keep in mind, Underwood likely held those negative feelings about her hair because of a long history of people judging her based on her hair texture as well as the color of her skin. And I am willing to bet that some of those judgments were just as nasty and vile as what was said to her in “defense” of natural hair.
And although it is very honorable that she has once again addressed those comments, she needs to stop apologizing and making excuses for those folks who called her such vile things. And instead, folks need to be flooding her mentions with apologies of their own.
We all remember the comments Sheryl Underwood made about natural hair two years ago on CBS’ “The Talk.”
For those who don’t, she was referencing Heidi Klum saving her biracial children’s hair when she said:
“Why would you save afro hair? You can’t weave in afro hair! No one walks into the hair place and says ‘Look here, what I need is curly, nappy, beady hair. That just seems n*sty’ “
Afterward, Underwood’s co-host Sara Gilbert stated that she too, saves locks of her children’s hair. Underwood responded:
“Which is probably that beautiful, long, silky stuff. That’s not what an afro is!”
They were hurtful and seemed to play into the same negative portrayals and perceptions about Blackness. That was two years ago and Sheryl apologized almost immediately afterward.
But today, on the show she broached the topic again, revealing her own natural hair in the process. She told the audience that she’d spent the last year going natural and decided today was the day to debut her curly fro on the show. And, in my opinion, she looks amazing.
In addition to the reveal, she also wanted to express the fact that she understood how her comments affected the Black community.
“I made some statements that were not only wrong but they hurt our community. Black people are very sensitive about a discussion about our hair…And to come out of the mouth of a very proud Black woman, I was wrong. And I wanted to take the time to apologize, especially in the forum where this discussion occurred…People were hurt. They were hurt that I had the platform on the number one network and that I made a big mistake on the number one network.”
Underwood mentioned that in response to her words, many in the Black community called her a coon, an Uncle Tom, a House Ni**a and much more. And she said that she understood it.
“I think that when you hide behind something that you are a coward. And I wanted to show that I was strong enough to take the truth about what people were saying and on this network and in this chair to say, I am so sorry to my people for hurting you. And I’m asking you for forgiveness and I will work hard to make it right.”
Most of you may already know that a big chop is when you cut off all relaxed parts of the hair, leaving only natural-textured new growth. Some cut hair as short as an inch or two.
If you have fears about the immense change of a big chop and losing all the length at once, transitioning is the best alternative. When you transition, you stop relaxing your hair and then cut off the relaxed part, once your hair has reached your desired length.
The big chop may sound intimidating at first but it has helped me personally change not only physically, but also as a person. It definitely takes a lot of patience, as well as maintenance, but I feel nothing beats the beautiful curls I have now.
Once upon a time, I had relaxed hair and loved it. But after my father passed, I decided to make a lot of life changes including becoming ready for a big chop. I reinvented myself from A-Z. Although some say, ‘It’s just hair,’ it’s in fact a revolutionary act to reveal your natural hair by re-defining your own standard of beauty. If you’re considering doing a big chop but aren’t sure about it just yet. the following are some of my pro’s and con’s to having natural hair.
Change is good
Sometimes it’s good to break out of your shell and reinvent yourself. Making changes to yourself, as well as your life, can be refreshing and therapeutic, especially after going through a difficult time. I wore my hair relaxed for about 10 years before cutting it all off. Of course I was nervous at first, but at the same time, I was also very excited for the new journey ahead of me. I’ve been natural for over two years now. While there are times where I’m not feeling it (mostly because of the required maintenance), I still love every step of the way.
Less styling time
You may find the TWA (Teeny Weenie Afro) stage the hardest but you can learn to embrace the shortness of your hair. I never saw myself wearing my hair short until I actually did it. Now, there no time needed to contemplate whether a twist out or braid out would be more appropriate for tomorrow’s lunch date. No time spent at night braiding your hair up in order to protect your ends. You basically wake up, moisturize your hair and then you’re good to go. Everyday can be a fashionable wash-and-go day, especially as a new mom. Whenever you do feel the need to switch it up, you can always do protective styles. My personal go-to: box braids.
It takes time
“But didn’t she just say ‘less’ styling time?” Yes, but as you gain length you will see that styling your hair takes up a lot of time. Even just washing it. Women call it “wash day” because it can take hours. My hair washing procedure looks kind of like this: I wet my hair in the shower before I condition it, comb it out, wash that out, shampoo it and wash that out again and then I condition it again and leave that in while I wash myself and then I rinse the conditioner out. After, I moisturize my hair by massaging in leave-in conditioner and an oil, such as olive or coconut oil. And that’s the fast way to do it. Many women deep condition, separate their hair into four parts, twist it up before washing, so it does take seemingly forever. But don’t feel overwhelmed, as you go, you’ll learn what regimen works best for you.
Taking care of natural hair means a lot more than taking care of straight hair. Actually, understanding proper natural hair care alone might take up more time. First, there is an endless list of products out there and everyone has their own preferences. You probably won’t find the magical curl enhancer that has your hair popping all day, in a day. I have tons of products, but am still open to try more because it seems as if there’s always better out there. It can be frustrating. You will have to study and analyze different products in order to find what works best for your hair. Next, protective styles. As the name says, those styles are meant to protect your hair (ends). They may also take time and practice to find the perfect styles for your hair.
Big chopping your hair is all about you. Having unrealistic exceptions is the only thing, I believe, that may cause you to have a negative experience. It’s important to remember that each head of hair has it’s unique characteristics. It’s important to accept your natural hair as it grows, without comparing it to someone else’s. The best thing is to not have any exceptions at all (I know that sounds easier than done), but try to just be open for the new journey.
Here a couple of things to remember:
- Avoid shampoos that contain the ingredients listed here
- Always keep your hair moisturized to avoid dryness and frizziness.
- Avoid excess heat whenever possible as it also dries out hair and can permanently damage it.
- Keep your ends trimmed; your ends should be trimmed about every six weeks to maximum every three months to avoid split ends.
Curly, kinky, and wavy hair needs a lot of moisture. It takes the moisture from the natural oils in the hair a longer time to get down the hair shaft because of the beautiful twists and turns of the hair pattern. And this can cause dry hair and breakage and that’s why it’s essential to replenish the hair with great products. Here are some great products to try for your daughter’s natural tresses.
Bee Mine Botanical Moisturizing Shampoo is loaded with botanical extracts to gently cleanse hair, remove residue and moisturize while enhancing natural shine. It leaves hair touchably soft & smooth and will nourish the scalp and strengthen the hair without stripping or weighing it down. It will cleanse, hydrate and quench your dry hair. Apply a small amount to wet hair gently massage to create a lather. Rinse thoroughly repeat if needed. Follow up with conditioner.
SheaMoisture’s Mango & Carrot Kids Extra-Nourishing Conditioner softens and smoothes children’s hair, making it easy to detangle and work out knots. It helps nourish and strengthen hair while protecting against breakage. The mango butter is a moisture-rich emollient that leaves the hair feeling silky smooth. The carrot oil nourishes hair, helping to prevent breakage and promote growth. And the orange blossom soothes sensitive scalps. After shampooing, apply a dollop to wet hair. Gently run fingers through hair to distribute evenly. Rinse well with warm water.
African Pride Dream Kids Quick Bounce Detangling Pudding’s intense moisturizing properties help manage tangles, instantly improve softness, and boost shine in naturally curly, wavy, kinky-coily hair. The smooth creamy feather light kids formula contains the finest Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Herbal Extracts used for generations to help strengthen and protect hair. And it’s formulated exclusively for children’s delicate hair and scalp.
Coconut oil is great for penetrating the hair with its vitamin E, vitamin K, protein, fatty acids and iron. Not only does it moisturize but it prevents hair breakage by sealing the hair follicle. It has also been known to eliminate dandruff and promotes shiny hair. To use as a deep conditioner apply to damp clean hair in sections and comb through from root to tip. Pin it up and leave it on for half an hour then rinse and create your natural style.
The Carol’s Daughter Mirabelle Plum Leave In Conditioner is a lightweight, silicone-free moisturizer that detangles, strengthens and adds weightless body to lifeless strands. Made with Mirabelle Plums plus a fusion of oils, it intensely rehydrates and restores hair so it appears visibly stronger and fuller. Now you can quench your hair’s thirst for ultimate health without weighing it down. The powerful ingredients include: Mirabelle Plum, Biotin, grapeseed oil, aloe leaf juice, and sweet almond oil.
I’ve been Black all my life, born with and have had vast experience with Black hair; and yet, it never ceases to amaze me.
The capabilities of Black hair are infinite.
Stylist Kris McDred, lives and works in Dubai, has just discovered another one. As a loc-ed lady, I know that the months it takes for your hair to lock can be extremely annoying. While you might expect your hair to be fully formed into perfectly coiffed locs, that is just not the reality of the situation, or it wasn’t for me. And many others. For six months, I walked around with fuzzy, two-strand twists I couldn’t wash on my own. My hair was such a mess that a full year after I’d begun the process, my younger cousin just realized what I was trying to do.
But McDred claims to have discovered a technique that claims to bypass that awkward, “I-don’t-like-my-locs” phase altogether.
He uses a rattail comb, a crochet hook and a bit of molding gel. Then he interlocks the remaining strands afterward.
Yes, it probably is as difficult as it sounds. McDred said that it takes some time to master the technique but the results are quite impressive and they just might help somebody not give up before they even get started on their loc journey.
You can watch McDred in action in the video below;
Does the ability to skip this awkward phase change your thinking about possibly getting locs? Do you believe there’s value in the process of allowing your hair to grow and lock naturally, on its own?
If you meet someone one way and hit it off, and then the next time you see them they look considerably different, would you second-guess giving them the time of day?
You guessed it. We’re having the tired hair conversation. But alas, hair, and how long or short it is, is still very important to very many people. Including men.
A friend of mine was in a relationship for years with a guy who didn’t make her feel good about herself. Yes, we should all be able to uplift and love ourselves, but what the hell is the point of a relationship if your partner-in-crime goes out of their way to make you self-conscious? This lack of support was most evident near the end of their time together. She made the decision to cut her hair off. It was something she used to do now and then when she felt like she needed to start over with her hair once it started breaking and having a mind of its own. It wasn’t something she’d done while with her boyfriend, but they had been together for a couple of years and she didn’t think it would be a problem.
But it was.
When she showed off her very short haircut, he didn’t have a lot to say. He didn’t diss or dismiss it; he just didn’t throw out an “It looks good, babe!” Instead, he nodded and smiled saying, “If you like it…”
But as some time passed and her hair looked less and less like what the salon put together for that initial cut, he became more and more rude. “You’re going to go out like that?” That’s what he asked her as she prepared to run errands one morning, curls doing their own thing after a twist-out failed to pop. Such insults would continue to the point where my friend started wearing her weekend wigs more and more. Once the relationship ended, it seemed less likely that she was wearing those wigs for convenience and more so that she was rocking them because he had knocked her self-esteem down a few notches. She even assumed that another guy she met while out with her wig on started losing interest in her when she met up with him for a first date with her short hair exposed. All of a sudden he wasn’t available to meet up for a second outing and just wanted to be “cool” despite obvious sparks flying when they initially came across one another and conversed.
She’s not the only person who has dealt with a man having a less than delighted response to a major hair change. A woman in the comment section of an article I came across on hair and patriarchy said she had been planning to lock her hair for months before finally setting up an appointment. She just so happened to meet a guy before her appointment and at the time, her hair was in a simple topknot. A topknot she had been wearing damn near every day. They hit it off and were supposed to go on a date, but he got sick, so they rescheduled–for the weekend after she was scheduled for her hair appointment. She admitted that she was a little nervous about how he would react to her hair change, but when it was all said and done, “I didn’t really care.”
When they met up on that date, she said, “to say he was shocked is an understatement.” There she stood with her tiny twists. Hair that probably could have reached the top of her shoulder was now barely at her ear. And while the sight of her with seemingly half of the hair she had before was jarring, he eventually stopped staring at her head long enough to get to know her. She says that months later, they’re still dating. She still has her locs, but he has a different attitude toward them.
And that’s probably because he had to ask himself whether or not hair was really that deep. Was it worth going MIA over after truly hitting it off with this young woman? Was he that superficial? Well, I’m sure he didn’t want her to figure that out too soon.
I get it. If I met a guy with a beard that literally drew me (and drew drool out of my mouth) and then he went and cut it off soon after, I would probably be a little sad too. Hell, I’m sad every time my fiancé shaves his beard for work. But at the end of the day, all that surface stuff means a whole lot of nothin’ in the long run. When you’re just looking for someone to roll around in the sheets with then I guess it’s understandable that someone would “get out of dodge” over a major hair change. But when you’re looking for something deeper, who cares? And for women worried about these things in the early stages of dating, you don’t know a person well enough to give a damn about what they think, especially when it comes to the decisions you want to make for yourself. Don’t be scared to do the things you’ve wanted just to please someone you don’t know from Adam. Because if he can’t get with it, he’s free to get lost…
But as always, that’s just my opinion. What do you think? If someone drastically changes their outward appearance after you meet them, is it petty to feel some type of way about it?
It’s one thing if you want to try and touch my hair like I’m some zoo animal (that’s a good way for me to wind up in prison and you in the hospital), but I don’t mind questions about black hair care — especially from white folks who adopt children of color.
While I’m not a professional stylist or know-it-all, I’m proud to say I’ve been team natural for almost six years now and have a good sense about what works and doesn’t work, at least for my hair.
Don’t Lisa Price (y’all know, the founder of Carol’s Daughter) and I look like family?
A few people I know have found themselves in a Brad Pitt situation: They have a black child and no concept of what “greasing a scalp” means (side note: Lisa said Brad reached out to her when he and Angie adopted their African daughter Zahara). After all, it’s not their fault they’re clueless as it’s nothing they would do on a regular basis. Plus, kids don’t exactly come with a manual, no matter how many people make you feel like a bad parent.
Rather than feel offended, I embrace the opportunity to share stories and provide whatever useful advice I can give. Yes, hair textures will vary, even in the African-American community, but at least they have some idea of what to do — instead of letting their child’s hair look like it got stuck in a light socket.
One of my closest gal pals has a family member who adopted a black child. Needless to say, they were excited to have a child but completely in the dark about what to expect when it came to hair products. Thankfully they realized all the TRESemmé in the world would not work on their daughter’s hair the way it did theirs. At least that’s a step in the right direction.
As you would expect with anyone trying to be “about that life,” there was much trial and error. Luckily they found a series of hair products that works for their child and continue to learn about different styles thanks to the online library known as YouTube. Heck, they even turned me on the website Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care that gives white mommies tips on black hair.
So the next time you want to immediately side-eye a person from the Caucasian persuasion who asks you natural hair questions, consider letting down your guard a bit as they might really need your help.
In best-selling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah the main character perms her hair in order to look as professional as possible for a job interview. Months after getting the job, the slim African immigrant is back to natural and out of a job in a week.
This extreme scenario may not be the case for all, but many African American women struggle with deciding the best way to wear our hair in corporate America. But could the tide be shifting? It is for Angolan model Maria Borges. Borges entered the the modeling industry sporting a long, straight weave often seen on many black models until a conversation with designer Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy changed that.
“He asked me to change my hairstyle,” Borges told Style.com. Tisci had made the same request last season, but Borges was not up for it just yet.
“I had booked an H&M campaign that same week and at the time I wasn’t feeling as comfortable with change. This season I finally felt ready, and I’m glad that I did,” said the stunning model.
Borges removed her weave and did the “big chop” before her next Givenchy show for Fall 2015 and to her surprise many fellow models found her unrecognizable. Many Black girls who have done the same know what it’s like switching hairstyles among their non-Black coworkers.
“They didn’t recognize me at all,” recalled Borges. “There were people asking backstage, ‘Who is that new girl?’ which I thought was hilarious.”
But her new cut made her feel more confident on and off the runway. While the big chop can often be an emotional experience, many Black women find themselves growing in confidence as they accept their natural tendrils.
“I feel like I’ve proved that I can be beautiful with or without the hair. Since I’ve gone natural, I feel younger and fresher. With my short hair I don’t feel like I need makeup—maybe I’ll use a little foundation, but I’ll skip blush or lipstick,” Borges said of her new beauty regimen.
And the new look isn’t just helping her confidence, but her career as well. Since Borges went natural, she feels she has attracted a broader pull of clients and looks even more high fashion. Borges realizes the versatility of her new coif allows clients to pop in extensions when longer hair is desired or let her fresh cut flow.
“The industry—thank God—has become more accepting of individuality… I think that for those of us who grew up watching Naomi Campbell and all the top models who had beautiful long extensions, it’s freeing because now you don’t have to adhere just to that standard. You can change, you can go natural, you can have different colors, and you can be yourself,” said Borges.
Borges was discovered in 2010 when she placed second at the Angolan edition of the contest, Elite Model Look. She is a Givenchy favorite and has also walked the runway for Victoria Secret’s Angel collection, Marc Jacobs, Armani, Christian Dior and many more.
Oh sweet, sweet Allure. How did you manage to royally screw this one up? Have you not been paying attention? Did you think you would be spared from criticism by all the women who are no longer willing to let cultural appropriation slide?
Within the pages of Allure’s August 2015 issue, White women are instructed on how to rock the perfect afro. In a short piece titled, “You (Yes, You) Can Have An Afro,” a beautiful White woman is pictured wearing what their editors have deemed as an afro. But honestly, it looks closer to a twist-out. The look was one of five that celebrity hairstylist Chris McMillan gave five Hollywood actresses. The magazine wanted to give the women makeovers with ‘dos that were popular in the ’70s. The article states that this look is achievable, “even if you have straight hair.”
What’s interesting is that when this style gained a great deal of popularity, it was due to African-American women deeply entrenched in the Black Power Movement wearing it. Then and now, the afro was nowhere near the beloved pillar of beauty standards. Still, many women, then and now, abandoned their flat irons, hot combs and chemicals to rock their beautiful hair in its natural state.
Allure, not only did you miss an opportunity to open a doorway to a discussion of perhaps showing the difference between “appreciation” and “appropriation,” you have continued to operate within a sense of privilege that allows you to believe that this style represents nothing more than creativity. It’s just hair, right? You wish.
For decades, we have been bombarded with standards of beauty that are not our own. Encouraged to try styles and looks that are difficult for us to achieve. Made to straighten our hair in the workplace so as not to appear unpolished. Ordered to change our hair even when we are serving our country in the military. When we do wear our hair in its natural state, we aren’t labeled as creative. Instead, we are labeled unkempt and unfit for any corporate office or formal function. Our hair is even compared to the mane of a dog. But when a White woman pulls out an afro, yet again, it’s a “limitless” individual expression of style. That’s what Allure had to say when responding to backlash about the how-to article:
“The Afro has a rich cultural and aesthetic history. In this story we show women using different hairstyle as an individual expressions of style. Using beauty and hair as a form of self-expression is a mirror of what’s happening in our country today. The creativity is limitless – and pretty wonderful.”
Hair is definitely a tool we employ to display our “individual expressions of style.” But if a White woman with an afro and a Black woman with an afro enter the same place for a job interview, the two are instantly received differently. There may be initial intrigue and curiosity when it comes to both looks; but while the White woman will be labeled as “quirky,” the Black woman will undoubtedly be labeled as “militant.”
Owning our hair as a tool for expression isn’t easy for women of color. When you’re taught to believe that straight hair is all you should desire as if there is a Bible verse proclaiming so, reclaiming our hair in its naturally coily and kinky state is hard. It is shedding a layer of oppression that many people will never understand. And yet, beauty publications continue to snatch the looks we have struggled for many years to embrace while leaving us out of discussions or odes to them.
Well, we aren’t going to sit around and be ignored when we have in too many instances contributed to or created the new beauty standards. Whether it be the love for curves, a rounder butt, plump lips and yes, an afro (as in AFRO-American), a Black model isn’t very hard to find and should be included in the discussion and appreciation of such looks.
Come on Allure, get your head out of the clouds and pay attention. And that goes for other mainstream beauty and fashion publications. Black women are tired of being told that the styles and looks we help bring to the forefront are unacceptable on us, but acceptable and “pretty wonderful” on everyone else.