Category Archives: Challenging misconceptions

Where do your hair extensions really come from?

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I remember when the choice of hair weaves for black women were limited.  At the local beauty supply, you would find the obvious synthetic hair, and brands labelled ‘human hair’.  But such hair was actually made from synthetic fibers, designed to mimic human hair. Whether this was clever marketing or blatant false advertising, such companies managed to get away with this.  Today, with the wealth of hair extensions now available, the choice has definitely improved.  Unfortunately, the deceptive marketing still exists.

protective styling

Asian, Brazilian and Russian hair are well sought after. Many weave wearers envision women in other countries, with hip length hair, going to an organization to sell or donate their hair and have it carefully removed.  Many are under this illusion that such hair is handled meticulously with the highest standard of care, before reaching worldwide markets.  This couldn’t be further from the reality.  Sam Piranty, for his article: the salons that hope you can’t tell goats and humans apart, traveled to China to examine the hair extension industry. He found that most of the hair, produced in Hunan province, is a mixture of human and goat hair. This hair is mainly sold to African clients; including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Congolese and South Africans.  He interviewed a Chinese shop owner, who said that such hair use to be sold in Europe and America. “We say it is Indian hair or Brazilian hair, but in fact it is normally Chinese hair or even goat hair. They never realize. This is the only way we can keep things cheap”, said Lilly, a Chinese beauty supply owner.

A mixture of human and goat hair.

A mixture of human and goat hair.

Riqua Hailes, owner of Just Extensions in Los Angeles and The Weave Express in Washington D.C, traveled to various Asian countries, to see firsthand where the hair comes from. She was prompted to do this after finding inconsistencies in the hair extensions she received from suppliers. She traveled to China, Cambodia, Malaysia and India.  She will also be travelling to Brazil and Russia  later in the year.

China

Most human hair extensions or weaves are labelled with the names of various countries, indicating the origin.  Many women today are choosing to spend more money on weaves, hair extensions and wigs. Rather than  buying synthetic hair, which doesn’t last as long and knots easily, many are choosing to invest hundreds of dollars in human hair.  When a packet of hair extensions is labelled Brazilian, Malaysian or Indian, people are willing to pay a lot more money for it.  Women like the option of curling their weaves, applying heat and wetting the hair. All of which isn’t always possible with cheaper synthetic hair. Manufacturers know that these labels create an image of quality. “Chinese hair is often considered cheap in the extensions industry, because it isn’t donated hair” says Hailes. “So in order to be on the same playing field as other exporters, they will market it as Brazilian or Malaysian hair, which can go for twice the money”.

The hair that comes from China is imported from India. But it is not from women who come forward to donate the hair. Neither is it removed meticulously and stored in the best conditions.  It is simply collected shed hair, gathered from the salon floors and, hair brushes. Hair of this kind is referred to as non-Remy hair.  “Non-Remy hair is less desirable in the extensions industry. But China collects this hair, cleans it and mislabels it as being from a higher-quality hair extension source like Brazil, Russia or India”, says Hailes.  So such hair can come from a number of different people, be gathered from the floor, combs or hair brushes in India or China, and be labeled Brazilian hair.

Production Practices

Another point to remember is that the standards of hygiene in developing countries will not be as strict as they are in Western Countries, like the United States. Strict regulations for how such products are cleaned, stored, transported and produced are unlikely to exist or be enforced. So don’t be taken in by the glossy packaging and the picture on the front. You have no way of knowing for sure what the hair has been exposed to or even where or who it came from. The hair is usually treated with chemicals, the effects of which are unknown until a person has a reaction to them.

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In Cambodia, Hailes found women who sold their hair, for as little as $5 to $8.  Many felt like they had no choice and were doing it to feed their families.  In India thousands of pilgrims visit community temples to donate their hair. Shaving their heads symbolizes washing away the past and a fresh start. Hindus believe sacrificing their hair to the gods will lead to their prayers being answered. Some do this once, while others may do it annually. The hair is auctioned off and some of the money goes towards funding community projects.  You may remember seeing images of this in the Chris Rock movie Good Hair. Check the labels of your weaves and hair extensions. If it is labelled Indian, Malaysian or Brazilian but says it is distributed from China, it is probably deceptive. Smell the hair as well, as shed hair will have a smell of acid and silicone.

Malaysia

Upon travelling to Malaysia, she concluded that ‘Malaysian hair’ doesn’t exist. Hair labelled ‘Malaysian’ is typically purchased directly from China.  There is unlikely to be one distinct feature of Malaysian or Brazilian hair anyway. Both countries consist of people from different ethnic origins and backgrounds. As a Brazilian person can have African, European or Asian ancestry, what would constitute Brazilian hair? You will find many different hair types there; from Afro-kinky to straight hair. In Malaysia, there are different ethnic groups, including Chinese and Indian, all of which may vary in hair textures. I await her report from her visit to Brazil, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she comes to the same conclusion.  The hair is produced and shipped from China, but simply labelled Malaysian or Brazilian, to make it competitive and give the illusion of better quality.

In Conclusion

1. Wash your hair extensions or wigs before use.

The reality is, most hair extensions are produced in countries that do not have the same laws and sanctions for production practice that exist in western countries. To ensure that the hair is clean, gently co-wash it and allow it to air dry before use. If it is human hair and of the quality it claims to be, this should not damage the hair.

2. Read labels

If the hair claims to be from India, Russia or Brazil, check the shipping information. If it was shipped from China, it is likely to be misleading information and is probably hair produced there. Remember that Malaysian hair was found to not exist.

3. Don’t fall for gimmicks

The texture and quality of the hair speak for itself. The shipping information tell you where the hair really came from. Unfortunately, when it comes to hair extensions, you don’t always get what you pay for.  Don’t be so quick to part with your money just because clever or even deceptive marketing is used. Hair produced in China is often shed hair collected from brushes and salon floors, labelled to deceived consumers and charge twice as much as it is worth. They are even willing to sell goat hair as human hair. Do not be deceived.

4. Examine your hair extensions closely

Remember to take note of the  feel and smell of the hair. Hair that has been put through chemical cleaning will have a harsher texture. It will also have a strong chemical and silicone odor. These are signs of hair that has been produced in China using the practices mentioned previously.

5. Treat weave or extensions as an occasional luxury, not a necessity

No one, who is in good health, should have to depend on weaves or hair extensions. When there is a dependency, there is a certain desperation  to have it.   Black women fund this industry more than any other group, yet most of this money doesn’t even go to black owned businesses. The growth in the natural hair industry has seen a growth in black owned businesses within the hair and beauty sector. More and more women are learning to love their natural afro textured hair. We are even producing and purchasing wigs, weaves and hair extensions that reflect our natural hair, rather than sourcing Asian or Brazilian hair that may not look as natural on us.

Be sure to check out both articles:

The salons that hope you can’t tell goats and humans apart.   http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28894757

The real story behind where your hair extensions come from.

https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/the-real-story-behind-where-your-hair-extensions-come-101266901210.html

Were you surprised by this information? Do you trust where you purchase your hair extensions from? Share your thoughts below.

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Is it really ‘just hair’? – The historical significance of black hair.

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Naptural85 before her hair grew to waist length.

Naptural85 before her hair grew to waist length.

I was watching one of my favorite vloggers showcase another tutorial, with her thick waist length hair. I scanned the comments, most of which were gushing about how beautiful her hair is, only to find one that had a lot of replies. One unsuspecting viewer made the mistake of asking if the vlogger, Naptural85 was mixed. I’m sure she wasn’t expecting it to become a heated discussion. Many commenters began to tell her off for implying that Naptural85 must be mixed with another race, in order to have long, luscious hair. Another began to educate her about this misconception and what someone is really saying when they ask this question. Then another inferred that ALL black people are mixed and this started a whole new debate. There were discussions about our ancestral links to other races, the intermixing that took place during slavery and so forth. Others gave examples of the diversity of Africa and how you would find tight kinky hair, to loose curly curls and even straight hair, within the vast continent. During such discussions someone always tries to be the voice of reason and say, it’s just hair people! Although it is true that this all started from a simple hair tutorial, here are some reasons many would consider this emotive topic to be about more than ‘just hair’.

natural-hair-headband

Hair has always been extremely significant in all African cultures. It has long been socially important because it communicated age, marital status, ethnic identity, religion, wealth, geographic origin, and even one’s rank in the social hierarchy.  Royalty would wear hats or elaborate hairstyles to emphasize their status. Traditionally in West Africa, long thick hair was praised on women, as it symbolized the power of life, prosperity and the promise of many healthy children. Widowed women would not take care of their hair during their period of mourning, as not to attract other men. Wolof culture in Senegal shaved their hair to show that they were not courting. Cornrows and other braids are used for grooming African hair and may often be styled with beads or shells.  Although curly and kinky hair was gloried in West African societies, it became a symbol of inferiority once enslaved Africans reached American shores. “The pride and elegance that once symbolized curly/kinky hair, immediately became a badge of racial inferiority”, says author Ingrid Banks.

Hair use to mean the difference between freedom or enslavement

Straight hair has been pursued by black people ever since. Both women and men desired straight European hair because it was seen as the beauty ideal. Unfortunately this mindset still exists today within the black community. After centuries of slavery, straight hair provided economic opportunity and was a social advantage.  Hair was used to determine Negro status, even more than skin color.  After slavery, up to 80 percent of former slaves were mixed with European heritage due to interracial coupling between slave and master.  Many had skin as light as Caucasians. The general rule was that if the hair showed just a little bit of kinkiness, that person would be unable to pass as white. This would likely lead to them being recaptured and enslaved again. “Essentially the hair acted as the true test of blackness, which is why some male slaves opted to shave their heads to try to get rid of the genetic evidence of their ancestry when attempting to escape to freedom”; says authors Byrd and Tharps in their book; Hair Story: untangling the roots of black hair in America.

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Henry Bibb, a runaway slave who was being held in Louisville, Kentucky before escaping.

Perhaps even today many people of African descent, living in Western countries subconsciously associate straight hair with economic advantage and social acceptance. When I first went natural I was reluctant to wear my hair out at work, for fear of being ‘misunderstood’.  One of my friends felt she had to seek permission from her supervisor before she could display her natural hair.  Numerous cases have been reported of people being discriminated against because of their afro hair texture, and not only by white owned establishments.  The article Natural Hair in Nigeria, highlighted the negative attitudes that exist there towards natural hair; for example natural hair being referred to as ‘village hair’ or believing it would prevent a woman from finding a husband. There is still a fear that our hair will put us at a disadvantage in many walks of life.  These attitudes are especially likely to exist with people from older generations.

 Hair texture hierarchy

There is also a clear division within the black community, when it comes to hair and skin tone. The debate about the hair typing system and perceived hierarchy is still evident. The very suggestion that someone with long, defined hair must be mixed, implies that only mixed people have nice hair.  Of course such divisions have existed since slavery and have not been eradicated in the minds of many black people today.  We’ve all been taught that the slaves with straighter hair worked inside the plantation houses, avoiding backbreaking labor.  The house slaves had access to clothes, better food, education and, the promise of freedom some day.  During this era a skin-shade, hair texture hierarchy developed within the slave community, hence the emergence of good vs. bad hair.  Good hair was thought of as long, kink-free, no frizz or tight curls.  The straighter the hair, the better.  Bad hair was African hair in its purest form.  Orlando Patterson (1982); In Slavery and Social Death: A comparative study; argues that hair, not skin color, became a more potent mark, that symbolized servitude during slavery in North America and the Caribbean. “Hair type rapidly became the real badge of slavery”. Today it’s our minds that may still be enslaved by these principles and not just in America.  There has been much debate over whether the natural hair community has adopted a hair texture hierarchy, with type 3 hair (loose/defined curls) being preferred to  type 4 hair  (kinky/tightly coiled).

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Leyla of Fusion of Cultures who is Ghanaian

Despite being free, this mentality continued in the minds of black people and still exists today.  The spread of European colonialism has also had an effect.  The pursuit of European style weaves and wigs and relaxers is evident of that.  In an attempt to educate people, some of us explain our thoughts on this subject passionately. When someone tries to dismiss those attempts with the phrase, “it’s just hair people!” it can be quite frustrating.  Should we be fixated on hair? No, but certain mindsets should be challenged in order to prevent them from being passed on to the next generation.  These attitudes exist after 400 years, simply because they have been passed on from mother to daughter, grandparent to grandchild, father to son etc. Conforming to European standards of beauty did not lead to acceptance after slavery.  Black people with straighter hair who emulated fashions and hairstyles of whites were ridiculed and satirized in the press, in theaters and on the streets.

“Be yourself because an original is worth more than a copy” ~ unknown

Degrading African features

Wunmi of womaninthejungle.com is Nigerian

Wunmi of womaninthejungle.com

During slavery the idea was pushed that darker-skinned black people with thicker hair were less attractive, less intelligent and worth less than their lighter-skinned brothers and sisters. This was simply to divide, and sadly some division still exists to this day. Some people are still of the mindset  that African hair in its purest form is ugly. And a black woman with nice hair has it, despite being fully black, or a person is beautiful despite being dark-skinned.  Whatever a person’s skin tone or hair texture, we should see their beauty, inside and out. It’s natural to have preferences but prejudice is a different thing entirely.  Perhaps we should stop asking people with two black parents if they are mixed, simply because their hair is long or defined.  Most people, knowingly or unknowingly (whatever their race) have links to other races or nationalities.

So no, it is not ‘just hair’, our hair is linked to our African identity. Our hair has emotive links to a history of oppression. Our hair is also linked to freedom of expression and African pride.  Try to understand where a person is coming from and what they are trying to teach and correct, before dismissing the discussion. For you, it may be just hair, but for many it goes beyond that. Thankfully the ignorance surrounding natural hair is being addressed and many of us are learning to embrace it, however, some still have a long way to go.

 

Do you think it is just hair? Share your thoughts below.

Faith Christian Academy in Orlando threatens student with expulsion for wearing her natural hair

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‘Here we go again…….’, was my initial thought when I heard this story. Why does this keep happening to the children? Recently, there was the story of the young girl at Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, who was told by a black administration, that her dreadlocks were unacceptable, now this.

Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida has reportedly labelled Vanessa VanDyke’s hair a “distraction.” They allegedly said, she must cut and shape it or she will not be allowed to continue her studies. Their dress code policy simply states that; “hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction.”

Vanessa went to the school for help after experiencing bullying because of her hair, sadly instead of showing Christian compassion towards her, they reinforced the message of the bullies by telling her that her hair was unacceptable and threatened her with expulsion.

Faith Christian Academy is a private school, it seems that sending your child to private school or a school that is predominately black doesn’t necessarily protect them from discrimination. Sadly, in some cases, it may make discrimination more likely.

Vanessa VanDyke is a beautiful young lady who has a great attitude about her natural hair. “It says that I’m unique,” “First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way; she says.  “I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”

In a world where the majority of black women feel the need to chemically straighten their hair, or wear weaves, not as an occasional styling choice, but as a necessity, it is good to see a young lady who is confidently embracing her natural hair texture.  She is simply wearing her hair out, just like a girl with straight hair, wears it down.  Yes natural hair can be worn conservatively away from the face, such as in a bun or puff. However, this young lady has been told that only a hair cut or straight hair would be acceptable.  Reportedly, Vanessa VanDyke, has until the end of the week to adhere to the school’s demands. Unless the girls with long straight hair, who wear their hair down have been given the same ultimatum, this constitutes discrimination.  If a child with ginger hair was being bullied, would the school label their hair a distraction and tell them to dye it?

Natural hair is not a hair style. It is simply leaving your hair the way God made it. Surely as a Christian school; Faith Christian Academy would teach their students that God made no mistakes. Yet they are telling this young lady that her natural hair is a mistake and must be corrected through artificial means.

What are your thoughts on this story? Is the school at fault? Could it be that people still aren’t use to seeing black women with their natural hair texture?

UPDATE: the school has issued a statement saying that they will no longer expel Vanessa because of her hair but they require that she wear it in a more conservative way. Here is the link to the updated story: http://www.clickorlando.com/news/orlando-private-school-wont-expel-africanamerican-girl-over-hair/-/1637132/23173004/-/1hgfb7z/-/index.html

Cruel comments about Blue Ivy’s hair need to stop!

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I was pretty disgusted to see the comments made against a baby on the BGLH (Black Girls with Long Hair) Facebook page, under the post: Blue Ivy is Rocking Twists. This is not the first time this blog has posted pictures of Beyoncé with her 21 month old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. Each time, people feel the need to make negative comments about the baby’s looks, and hair. ALL of us had natural hair when we were babies, so why the scrutiny? During an interview with Oprah, Solange Knowles spoke about getting her first perm as early as four years old. With the cruelty targeted against her niece’s natural hair, I fear Blue may suffer a similar fate. Examples of these negative comments include ‘ Beyoncé really needs to do something  with her (Blue’s) hair’, ‘Beyoncé really needs to comb that girl’s hair’, ‘She’s a beautiful kid but why does her hair look unkept’, ‘Oh those are twists, I thought they were naps’. I noticed that some of the comments were made by women who appeared to have relaxed hair or weave according to their profile picture.  Such women probably joined that natural hair blog  to cause trouble and make negative comments about natural hair.

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Most of us with natural hair have heard comments like this, especially the usual demand that we comb our hair. People who make such statements have no knowledge of Afro textured hair. They compare it to straight silky hair and its noted differences are simply seen as flaws, rather than unique qualities. It disgusts me that such attitudes still exist in 2013 and people would resort to making such comments about a baby. These were probably the same people who were complaining about Beyoncé not showing any pictures of Blue Ivy for many months after she was born. Now we know exactly why she kept her hidden. These people seem upset that she has her father’s African features. They are upset that Blue Ivy didn’t get the ‘good hair’ but got the African/’nappy’ hair instead.

The majority of African-American women chemically straighten their hair or continuously keep their natural hair covered with other hair textures.  Comedian Cheryl Underwood received a backlash for calling Afro-textured hair ‘nasty’.  Judging by these comments, she was only saying what many African-American women think about their own hair texture. These are the same women who wouldn’t hesitate to put harmful chemicals on the scalps of their little girls.  This gives them the message that; ‘mama really has to do something with your hair because, your natural hair isn’t good enough, or, your natural hair is problematic and has to be fixed!’

FYI, Afro-textured hair is kinky and tightly coiled in nature, it may appear uneven at times because some women have tighter or loser sections. Combing it, doesn’t magically make it sleek or give it an even shape, where every hair is perfectly placed.  Babies especially have uneven hair because it is in the early stages of growth. You often find some babies with bald patches especially at the back of their head which they sleep on. To put the same standards on a baby that you would put on a grown women, is ridiculous!  In general, the use of a comb on Afro-textured hair should be minimized and only used on wet hair.  Finger detangling is just as good,  if not, more effective than a comb. So comments like the ones I read on this blog, only go to show how clueless people are about natural hair.  You often see clueless mothers subjecting their daughters to pain when combing their hair, because they have never learned how  to properly comb, Afro-textured hair in its natural state.

i.0.blue-ivy-mad-jay-z-name-change-beyonce

I am not a  Beyoncé fan,  I’m a fan of natural hair. I am a fan of little black girls knowing that they are beautiful and that their hair is beautiful. I am a fan of young black girls not coming home from school and saying they want hair like the white girls. I’m also a fan of mothers taking the time to learn how to manage their daughter’s natural hair, rather than damaging it with relaxers or excessive heat and, I am certainly a fan of African beauty. If Beyoncé wants to experiment with Blue Ivy’s hair by putting it in braids, great! She’s taking the time to look after her daughter’s  hair, which is beautiful. Blue Ivy is not a natural hair inspiration or a celebrity yet; she’s simply a baby who has just started her life! And already, she is being told that her hair isn’t good enough, not by white people, but by black women with the same type of hair, minus the perms and weaves. Sad!

Have you seen these comments? Check out the blog post here: https://www.facebook.com/blackgirllonghair/posts/10151737920758391

I Am Natural! (Underneath)

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Although wigs and weaves can be great protective styles, isn’t it time you revealed your real hair.
Weave and wigs can work great as protective styles.  They allow you to leave your hair natural and enjoy the convenience of straight hair. No shrinkage to contend with, less detangling, protection from the weather and versatility. However, for some women it may be time to let their natural hair out, to shine in all its glory. Here are some benefits to doing this. Hopefully this will encourage you to take the next step and come away from being reliant on weaves and wigs.

So what are the benefits of ditching the weave and letting your hair out more often?

Tamar has said she has natural hair

Tamar claims to have natural hair

You will become better at managing your natural hair
As with most things practice makes perfect. The more you leave your hair out the more practice you get at managing it. You will learn the best techniques for maintaining it on a daily basis. This includes forming a hair regimen that suits your routine and lifestyle. You will also have the opportunity to eliminate products and techniques that do not work well on your hair. If your hair is packed away under the weave or wig cap every month, you many only see it once in a while. Some people only take their hair out of the weave to wash it, then they reinstall it all over again. If you wear your hair out regularly you will become familiar with it and learn the best techniques managing it.

You will be in a better position to assess the health of your hair
Detangling my hair this week made me realized it was definitely time for a protein treatment. Because I am familiar with my hair I noticed there was more shedding than usual. I was able to rectify this straightaway because I had access to my hair. When your hair is weaved you don’t have immediate access to it. If there is a problem you will not know until you take the weave out. By this time more damage may have occurred that could have been avoided. When your hair is out you can assess it regularly and decide what action to take, such as: a trim, a wash, a treatment or a moisturizing boost.

Janelle monroe

Janelle Monae

It is easier to moisturize
Many of us know that we should moisturize our real hair regularly when it is in a weave. How many of us actually do this though? I certainly didn’t.  It seemed too complicated at the time and out sight out of mind. I spent more time grooming the weave because it was the weave that was visible to everyone. I would take the time to style it with curling tongs or a flat-iron, moisturize it and blend it with my real hair so it would look its best. I would usually forget about my real hair underneath. If your hair is out more often you will know immediately when it becomes dry and be in a better position to moisturize it. You are also more likely to moisturize it on a regular basis and prevent it from drying out in the first place.  When it is hidden away under the weave, it’s easy to forget about it.

Others will become use to your natural hair
If you are concerned about the reaction friends, family and work colleagues will have to your natural hair remember that the sooner they see it the sooner they will get use to it. If people see you with your hair out all the time it really doesn’t become that much of a big deal after some time.  They also get to see how beautiful it is natural.  You may have to deal with comments and questions, some may be negative but you will be better equipped to deal with them after some time. Some people may not admit that they feel more comfortable with you when you wear your weave. The sooner they realized that you are not going to hide your hair away for their benefit the better.

There is also that dreaded feeling you get when you have to take your weave out and don’t have an appointment to get it reinstalled straightaway. You kind of feel naked or may not be sure how to style your natural hair in between weaves. If we are honest some of us dread bumping into people that are used to seeing us with our weaves. If you wear your hair out you will no longer have to deal with the dreaded ‘in between weaves feeling’. What you see is what you get with natural hair.

Liya Kebede

Liya Kebede

You will become a hair styling queen
Styling your natural hair will become second nature to you. It’s like learning to play the guitar. If you never take it out of the case how will you ever learn to play it? Your natural hair is like a blank canvas, there are endless styling tutorials on YouTube and you may also surprise yourself  by inventing some styles and techniques of your own. The more you leave your hair out the more of an expert you will become about styling and managing it. Weaves and wigs are great protective styles but there are numerous protective styles you can try with your own hair that are elegant and appropriate for all occasions. These include: two strand twists, buns, roll tuck and pins, French braids and various updos. Check out CharyJay’s and Fusion of Cultures’  YouTube channels.  They are protective style queens. If their styles seem too complicated, you can  adapt them to suit you personally. These tutorials should provide you with inspiration; you don’t have to follow them exactly.  Remember natural hair is very versatile so there is no reason to get bored or run out of styling options. Check out the series: The Versatility of Natural Hair.

Charyjay

Charyjay

Fusion of Cultures

Fusion of Cultures

You will not have to worry about the negative aspects of weaves, wigs and hair extensions
Many of us gasped in shock when we saw the first photos of Naomi Campbell’s receding hairline. The damage to her hairline was believed to have been caused by years of wearing weaves or hair extensions. In an industry that promotes a certain standard of beauty you can imagine the pressure she was under as a black model to look a certain way. Over the years more photos of her have come out highlighting the same problem that only appears to be getting worse. It is as if the fake hair on her head is taken care of more than her real hair underneath. Traction alopecia can occur if your hairline is constantly put under pressure through sewing, braiding, glues and tight comb attachments.

naomi-campbell-21

Naomi Cambell

Naomi Campbell

The problems associated with weaves are unlikely to affect women who simply use them once in a while for diversity. They are going to have more of an impact on those women who rely on weaves for everyday use. Another negative aspect is that sometimes weaves look awkward, we have come a long way in ‘weave technology’ but it still isn’t perfect. Sometimes you see people’s tracts showing, your hair doesn’t blend well, or you have hair that sheds like crazy. I don’t consider any of this easier than having my natural hair out. You will also save a lot of money. We seem to be the only race that wears hair texture that doesn’t match our natural hair. Some of us don’t even wear weaves that match our natural afro texture when it is straightened (Yaki).  The silky textures seemed to be preferred.  I’m glad to see more black owned companies introducing afro-textured weaves that compliment our natural hair.

Even Beyoncé has experienced downside of lace front wigs

Even Beyoncé has experienced the downside of lace front wigs

Natural hair only gets better with time
The more you learn about managing your natural hair the more it will thrive. Most of us had to deal with negative comments from family members when we first went natural. However, the more time that passes the fewer and far between these comments become and we even start hearing more compliments from the same people. Carefully managing your natural hair will result in growth, better styling techniques and overall healthy hair. It is because of this that natural hair is like wine, it only gets better with time. Don’t hide away behind fake hair, week in, week out. This is choosing second best when you have the best on your head already.

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding

“No one should feel that they have to wear a weave to have presentable hair; a weave should be a conscious styling choice, not a crutch”

~ Audrey Davis-Sivasothy~

Do you prefer weaves to wearing your hair out? Share your thoughts below

Afro Puffs and Braids banned, says Ohio School

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Afro Puff

Afro Puff

Check out the story originally posted in BGLH

Horizon Science Academy in Ohio recently released their school policy on dress code. See the letter to parents below and the outline of their dress code policy.  It states that afro puffs and ‘small twisted braids’ are against school policy. It’s clear that this policy directly addresses the  parents of African American girls in the school. It is effectively banning these girls from wearing the equivalent of a ponytail for afro textured hair, or one of the most convenient protective styles. So what is the alternative? This reinforces the myth that straight, relaxed or pressed hair is superior to curly, kinky afro textured hair. In 2013, the misconception of natural afro hair being unkempt still exists. In recent years there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of African American women wearing their hair natural. The sale of relaxers has decreased also. However clearly, there is still a long way to go before attitudes towards natural hair improve both in the black community and outside.

letter of schoolpolicy

This story is nothing new, last year  Hampton University in Virginia banned braids and dreadlocks in their dress code. But what is particularly upsetting about this story is that it involves young girls of school age.  They are already facing discrimination and being singled out for leaving their hair natural and not succumbing to chemical relaxers or pressing irons at such a young age. This policy reinforces the idea that to be taken seriously and to be seen as professional, your hair must be straight. It’s interesting that one of the reasons cited for the policy was to:  diminish economic and social barriers between students. Well Horizon Science Academy, African American girls should not have to wear their hair straight to fit in with the other students in the school. Wearing their hair in braids or simply putting their hair up in puff does not create social barriers. A negative attitude towards others who are different and discrimination creates social barriers.  Also, singling out African American girls for the way they wear their natural hair doesn’t increase ‘a sense of belonging or pride’ for their school.

Chemically relaxing or  constantly flat ironing a young girl’s hair isn’t healthy. The school’s policy is conflicting as it requests that hair must ‘look natural’.  Making it harder for black girls to wear their hair in its natural state (by banning the main styling options) is simply discrimination. It would be just like banning ‘straight ponytails’. It’s ridiculous and unnecessary.

Please note that Horizon Science Academy is reviewing their dress code policy since being made aware of the reaction to it from the natural hair community.   Check out their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/theconceptschools

Check out the letter from Horizon School, addressing their ‘draft’ policy.

What do you think about this story? Share your thoughts below.

Natural Hair Journey to Health Journey

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fitness woman

It’s amazing that so many women who are discovering their natural hair for the first time have also begun to consider their overall health.  Many have now embarked on a health and fitness journey.  If we are going to take the time to research what makes our hair healthy and what to avoid to prevent damage to our hair, how much more should we do this for our bodies? Hair and nails are the last to receive vital nutrients from foods. Our bodies are so amazing that they are designed to prioritize the vital organs. If we take the time to learn how to look after the least important part of our bodies; hair, then it’s only a matter of time before we desire to do the same for our overall health.

fitness

What goes on inside our bodies is reflected on the outside anyway. Having the best hair care products, the best regimen and the most creative hairstyles, will not get us very far if we are not healthy from the inside. If our bodies are not hydrated for instance, our hair  and skin will suffer from dryness to reflect this on the outside.  If we are lacking key vitamins and nutrients, it doesn’t matter if our shampoos or conditioners are ‘enriched with vitamins’, our hair and overall health will still suffer.

I am glad to see so many newly naturals not only embark on a natural hair journey, but also considering the effects of diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle on their bodies as a whole. I often hear many not only discussing good hair care practices, but fitness and workout regiments, weight loss and avoiding processed foods or drinks. Not only are they avoiding  chemicals in their hair products, they are also doing the same with their skin products and food.  Quite clearly it has become about much more than hair, and I for one believe it is a step in the right direction.

weight loss

I’m tired of reports suggesting that certain health problems are more prevalent within the black community and with black women in particular. Regardless of whether you believe such statistics are accurate, it should be a priority for us to break any negative trends and set a better example for our children.  Many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer can be prevented by having a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Such diseases can also be cured or managed simply by improving your diet and adopting a healthier lifestyle. For example according to the America Diabetes Association, weight loss of just 10 to 15 pounds can make a huge improvement to the health of those with type 2 diabetes.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that overweight and obese women were at a higher risk of uterine fibroids.  A diet high in fruits and vegetables and thus high in fibre was found to be crucial for the prevention and treatment of fibroids.

More and more women in the natural hair community, and beyond are realizing the importance of healthy eating, exercise and the avoidance of harmful chemicals. We understand that we no longer have to be reconciled to a lifetime of taking numerous medications.   Instead, through education and basic research we can learn to look after our bodies as well as our hair.

fitness couple

Did going natural lead to a health journey for you or have you always been conscious of these issues? Maybe you are yet to embark upon a health journey. Share your thoughts below.