Tag Archives: Black hair care

Natural Hair in Australia

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What is it like to live in a country that doesn’t have an endless supply of black hair care products and numerous salons that cater to black hair?

The City of Adelaide
So I arrived in Adelaide, Australia last month and will be here for the foreseeable future. Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth largest city in the country. It isn’t huge but still has all of benefits of a big city, yet maintains a level of calm about it. I did arrive during the festival period which was a lot of fun. There was an African festival across the road from my hotel which had some excellent live performances of traditional African music. One of the first things I observed when I arrived in Australia was how diverse the people are.
In Adelaide there is a wide choice of restaurants, from Asian restaurants in China Town, to Sudanese restaurants in the outskirts of the city. Quite clearly Adelaide has a growing African community which consists of those from countries in East and South Africa. Over the last two decades, Africans have come to Australia either as migrants through Australia‘s skilled and family reunion programs, and as refugees through Australia‘s humanitarian program. Other communities that live in Australia include those from the Polynesian islands such as Samoa, economic migrants and refugees from countries in Asia, and of course the indigenous aboriginal community. Australia is a nation of immigrants, other than the indigenous aboriginal community everyone there is likely to have connections to other parts of the world.

Rymill Park, Adelaide

Rymill Park, Adelaide

Somerton Beach, Glenelg

Somerton Beach, Glenelg

Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo

Natural hair community?
It is a wonderful country that I cannot wait to explore. I couldn’t wait to interview some of the African women about life in Australia and to find out whether or not they have heard about the natural hair community, that is prevalent on YouTube and on internet blogs or forums. Of course it has taken off in the U.S.A in a big way and continues to grow in the UK as well. One thing I also noticed is that black beauty products are not readily available like they are in the United States; it reminded me of the UK ten years ago. Growing up in London, I had to go to specialist afro hair and beauty shops to purchase beauty products that catered to my hair and skin tone. In the United States they sell these products in regular stores such a Wal-Mart or Target. The availability of products has improved greatly in the UK but in Australia this simply doesn’t exist. For instance they have Target in Australia but when I browsed through the makeup section I noticed that the darkest color available was caramel.  There certainly wasn’t any black hair care products either. I didn’t see any black hair care shops like Paks Cosmetics in the UK. Fortunately, in America you could go to a regular beauty supply like Sally’s and pick up products that cater to afro hair and those specifically for natural hair.

So I was curious to find out where I could go to get my hair done. Fortunately, since going natural and even before, I have learned to do my own hair and I no longer rely on going to the salon. My hair also thrives with basic products such as Shea butter, coconut oil and plain water. I have learned good hair care practices, so the health of my hair is not dependant on product brands. Therefore I wasn’t panicking because I had moved to a country where I couldn’t pick up any Shea Moisture products or any other popular brands that are freely available in the U.S. However, I still wanted to know where the African women in Adelaide go to buy hair products and if there were black hair salons.
Looking around I saw that many of them wore weaves and braid extensions. The first girl I interviewed said that she mainly relied on a family member to do her hair and she visited the salon occasionally. She told me about the areas where the African shops were and reassured me that there were black hair care shops and salons, you just have to know where to go. Surprisingly, she had never heard of the natural hair community on YouTube. She wore weaves a lot and her hair was relaxed, although she didn’t relax it very frequently. There was also a beautiful young lady from Kenya that I interviewed with immaculate braids, again she had never heard of the natural hair community. Only one person I spoke to was aware of it and she had considered going natural but said she loves her weaves. :D. I explained to her that she could still be natural and wear weaves.

I did see a couple of girls with natural hair though. Two had cute TWAs (teeny weenie afros) and another had two-strand twists. So there are women there that wear their hair natural and I’m sure there is some knowledge about natural hair but it is yet to grow in Australia. It doesn’t appear to have taken off here and I couldn’t find any Australian natural hair, YouTube vloggers.  I am use to seeing blogs and vlogs from women in the UK, Nigeria and the US.  If you know of any or have natural hair and live in Australia, please drop by on this blog and let us know about your experience so far.

Check out Miranda's story on BGLH

Click to check out Miranda’s story on BGLH

Update: here is a link to Miranda’s blog: http://www.StyleGallivanter.com

Good hair care practice
If you have recently gone natural, focus on good hair care practice as opposed to products brands. It is good hair care practice that will promote the health of your hair, not necessarily the products you use. You never know when you may no longer have access to your favorite products or may need to save your money at that particular time. Besides, I find that my twists outs come out beautiful by simply using water and Shea butter. In fact some of the products I’ve tried made my hair too frizzy and were not suitable for twist-outs.

Do you live in a country that doesn’t provide much choice for black hair care and beauty products? How have you adapted to this? Share your experiences below.

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Does hair typing set us back?

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I have never been overly concerned about what my hair type was. However I do consider it useful information when learning how best to manage my hair. For example I knew that certain styles demonstrated by bloggers would not necessarily turn out the same with my hair and I would have to adapt them accordingly. Also, when it came to my hair care regiment I was able to develop techniques that worked best for my hair type. I understood that not every method would work the same with my hair.

However what happens when hair typing becomes detrimental to the way you see your hair or to the way other people respond to you. Have we just replaced the derogatory terms ‘good hair’ and ‘bad hair’ with type 3 and type 4 hair. Unfortunately this is the negative result of hair typing and I think it is becoming more and more evident.

There are a few hair typing systems. One of the most popular ones is the one formed by celebrity hairstylist Andre Walker. Have a look at the diagram below:

While this information can be useful it should not be used as a ranking of good to not so good. We must respect the fact that natural hair is very diverse. Some women don’t have one hair type overall, their hair may be made up of a combination of the different hair types. So not everyone fits into a particular box  of a certain hair type.

Esperanza Spalding
4a

Shingai Shoniwa
4b hair

We spend a lot of money on curl enhancing creams, puddings and serums. When the fact is if the curls aren’t there to begin with they are not magically going to appear just because you apply these  products.  Rather than being disappointed, a person in this position should accept their hair the way it is and focus on the many of styling options that are available to them to create curls and waves. I hope these products haven’t become the new ‘creamy crack’. I dread to think that another woman would look down on someone with hair that is say 4b as opposed to the more curl defining hair types. Corinne Bailey Rae and Tracee Ellis Ross have stunning hair but they are not representative of everyone with natural hair,  when you consider the shear diversity of natural hair. Other hair types are just as stunning but in a different way, neither one is superior or better. If you fall into the trap of thinking like that you need to remember why you went natural in the first place. For many of us  it was to be free from the pressure to conform to what society typically states is beautiful and to embrace our natural beauty.

Debra Messing
3a hair

Keri Russell
3b Hair

I’ve heard horror stories of certain naturals attending hair care events and being told that their hair wasn’t kinky enough (simply because they were of mixed heritage) or being told that their hair was too kinky for the products on display and both were made to feel like they didn’t belong there.  Neither scenario is acceptable and is the result of nothing but ignorance and the same attitude people had about natural hair being inferior to straight flowing European hair. I know white women who use afro hair care products because they have very curly hair, would we turn them away just because they’re not black? That would be absurd.  Some of them can relate to us because they felt the pressure to straighten their hair for years. I have  also heard of some YouTube vloggers who have decided to close their accounts and delete their videos because of  a lack of interest in their channels.  They have claimed it is because they don’t have what is perceived as the ‘good hair’ type that usually is related to having super defined curls and really long hair.

We are supposed to be moving forward not replacing derogatory terms with different ones with the same sentiment.  More and more women are deciding to go natural, this is a good thing that should not be met with disappointment. If we accept that natural hair is diverse we can avoid this. The same applies to women who have relaxed hair, it all comes down to choice and it would be just as wrong to make someone feel inferior for having relaxed hair as well. Inspire them don’t bash them!

Alicia Keys
3c hair

What do you think about hair typing? Is it a good thing or has it set us back to where we were?