AFRICANGLOBE – The phrases “good hair” and “bad hair” have long been used in the Black community to describe a person’s preference in texture and style.
But stylists who focus on ethnic hair care agree that no such distinctions exist.
All that matters is your hair and the way you care for it.
The Black hair industry — like the personal-care business in general — has evolved through the decades, with more women embracing their hair (whether natural, braided or relaxed) and wearing it the healthiest way possible.
Today, products, techniques and treatments are available that didn’t exist a few decades ago. But the experience of navigating them can be hair-raising.
Lexington, Ky., stylists Melanie Day of You’ve Got Curls, Odilia Chindo of Smart Braids and Anetra Polk of Stylin’ on Regency weighed in on caring for Black hair during the summer.
More Black women are going back to their roots, literally, and have chosen to cut off their processed, straightened hair and grow it in its natural state, curls and all.
One part of the process is learning how to style natural hair.
Day, 28, said a good style starts in the shower.
“Shampooing and conditioning hair is the foundation of the style,” she said.
She suggested organic and low-sulfate products to clean hair and keep it moisturized.Day added essential oils cleanse the scalp naturally.
She sees a lot of women this summer wearing their hair in what are called “protective” styles such as braids or weaves. Protective styles are those that require little manipulation of the hair, giving tresses a break from daily styling and encouraging hair growth.
Braids and twists are popular looks among women for defining the curl pattern, or the way curls grow on a spectrum from wavy to coily.
When it comes to nights out, the bouffant and Mohawk are styles of choice for women with longer hair.
Black Women Going Braided
Cindo, 37, said braids have become increasingly popular.
Braiding is a part of the culture from her upbringing in Douala, Cameroon.
“Black hair art is the way we Black people manage our hair,” she said.
Hair and fashion trendsetters including Solange Knowles have inspired women to reclaim the braided look.
There are several variations of braids and a sea of style possibilities with or without using extension hair.
Styles called box braids, tree braids, Havana twists and Senegalese twists are among the most popular looks with extension hair this summer, Chindo said.
Women are taking them to great lengths, wearing their braids or twists down their backs or longer. However, Chindo noted, long hair is not the most ideal in the summer heat.
Bouffants, oversize buns and a number of creative up-dos that get the hair off the neck can be worn to keep women cooler yet stylish.
Chindo suggests that women wash their braids every week or two to ensure the scalp is clean and the hair is moisturized.
She recommended Sulfur 8 brand products to keep hair healthy and protected underneath braids, and oil sheen to maintain luster.
Despite the rise of the natural hair-care movement, Black women continue to chemically straighten their hair.
Polk, 27, said relaxed hair dries out easily and sheds more than any other type because of its porosity and the strength of chemical relaxers.
The tendency for relaxed hair to dry and break doubles in the summer because of exposure to sun, saltwater and chemicals in pool water, Polk said. That threat can cause women with relaxed hair to steer clear of the swimming pool, but that’s not necessary, she said.
“Before you go into the water, spray your hair with a leave-in conditioner” to avoid breakage and drying, Polk said.
By: Anyssa Roberts