Thursday, September 30, 2010

Black African Hair: Things you should know

I have spent my life being pulled around by my hair. If I let it be and grow out naturally only disaster will prevail. I have had to plait it, iron it, straighten it, bond it, weave it, braid it and endure long hours and large amounts of money just keeping it sane. It has become such a problem that I often find myself thinking about what should I do with my hair every time I go on holiday, or a wedding or when I leave the house?? You are probably wondering what I am talking about.

I am a black African woman, born and bred and my real natural hair is as wild and untamed as the genetic gene that designed them. It's black, tight and curly and impossible to comb in normal conditions. It's my constant struggle to keep it under control. It's not fair, cause Caucasian men and woman have soft, finger running hair that flows ever so gently in the wind. Mine, neither moves nor is it finger running and even when it is all done and looking good my man knows; Don't ever touch a black woman's hair... Ever!

Tip 1: I just spent two and a half hours in the hair salon. I don't you being all romantic and creative with my hair.
Why is there so much drama about  black African hair? 

Tip 2: If you have ethnic hair you know what I'm talking about. If you don't, welcome, because I am about to tell you, everything
1. What is black hair?
Black hair, obviously, Black African hair (we'll call it ethnic hair for the purposes of our discussion here) also tends to be porous, which means that moisture easily passes through the cuticle layer of the hair. You see, since ethnic hair tends to be coarse, the cuticle layer of the hair shaft tends to be raised, which means that even though it can readily absorb moisture it also loses moisture easily. Because of this, ethnic hair needs more assistance to stay healthy.There exists a billion dollar industry that produces ethnic hair care products specifically for people with ethnic hair. Typically, ethnic hair is not naturally soft and moist. Instead, it is dry and brittle.Where as European hair can benefit from an occasional oil treatment, it can quickly become oversaturated by oils and be left lank and flat. On the other hand, Ethnic hair needs these oils to protect the hair. The oils provide a sealing barrier to hold in the hair's moisture, and keep it soft and manageable. 
Tip 3: So my dear readers don't ask your colleague why their hair is oily. Its just conditioned...but if it is drenching in oil like a bad Rick James video. It's time to intervene. This is not the 80's.
2. Why I straighten my hair? 
The View: Why don't black women wear their natural hair?

Tip 4: It is by choice.

I would love to have my hair in it natural condition, living freely on my head and being one with the universe but its not going to happen. Ethic women can wear their natural hair in all kinds of ways that keep their hair healthy, natural and manageable. I have very fussy hair so I have to use a chemical relaxer to straighten my hair in order for it to be manageable. Chemical relaxers are strong formulas that break the disulfide bonds of the hair allowing it to lie straight. Common relaxers contain strong alkalis that can swell the hair up to twice its normal size, and with hydroxide relaxers the bonds that are broken are permanently broken. Soft curl perms are processes designed to make the natural curl of the hair larger. Both relaxers and soft curl perms are very hard on the hair. Heat styling is another process that is especially hard on Ethnic hair. The curling irons, flat-irons and straightening combs commonly used can use heat as high as 400 degrees. Even dryers used for straightening use sufficient heat to leech much of the needed moisture from the hair. I wish there was a way I wouldn't have too but its what I do.

3. How did your hair get so long?
Tip 5: Don't ask your colleague this question. You know why it is so much longer than you saw it last week. "Your hair looks great!" is all you need to say. 
Men and women around the world wear extensions in their hair. Extensions make your hair longer, thicker and more desirable to your liking. But, not all extensions are the same. There is gluing, clamping and braid-ins and plug-ins. (there are probably more). I have a weave in. Weave in is not adding more hair to my existing hair. It is a method where you first plait all my hair into one long circular structure then you sew in the extensions. The extensions cover all of my own hair (giving it a break from chemicals) and the extensions act as my flowing, manageable hair for the existing period of time. Giving me a break from my constant bad hair days.

4. Why do you change your hairstyle so often?
Same reason that you visit the salon; to dye your hair blond, or cut it or style it. We want to be unique stand out of the crowd and wear the crowns of our heads proudly.

Hair style is the final tip-off whether or not a woman really knows herself. ~Hubert de Givenchy, Vogue, July 1985
African women do it with more... extravagance. We can do anything with our hair naturally, chemically weaved, braided and hot ironed. A couple of hours here and lots of money spent later, I could have the choice to have my hair as free as Erykah Badu's hair or as bountiful as Kim Kardashian's hair. Anything is possible. We are all proud of who we are and want to look good when ever we put our best foot forward.

Now you know a little bit more about about ethnic hair and I can't wait to hear about your hair woes or aaah!
Tip 6: Hair is in the mood. Flaunt it!
 My real hair color is kind of a dark blonde. Now I just have mood hair. 
- Julia Roberts 

What is your mood? 

1 comment:

  1. Chris Rock has a cool documentary on black women's hair called- Good Hair. I would love to see but the previews are so true and funny : D


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