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Natural Hair Natural Hair

The politics of black women’s hair has been a hot button issue for decades. The legacy of slavery and white supremacy means that, on an near-global scale, kinky or frizzy black hair has been systematically maligned and devalued, while European straight hair has been systematically lauded and ‘normalized’.

In the nineteen sixties and seventies, following the civil rights movement, the Afro emerged as a potent symbol of the ‘Black is Beautiful’ mantra, but by the end of the eighties, jheri curls and relaxers had firmly replaced the Afro as the styling choice of the majority of black women.

In the last 15 years, however, an evolution has taken place. Increasing numbers of black women have joined those sisters who had always ‘bucked the trend’, and are embracing and celebrating the kink: black women are falling in love with their natural hair. (It’s worth noting that in 2015, a market research company, Mintel, estimated that the black hair industry was worth $774 million and that relaxer sales are set to decrease by 45% by 2019.)

Rules on Wearing Natural Hair – When to Conform

We are loving our natural hair, and we are ready to staunchly defend it. The fight has been long and hard, and the battle still ensues. So does anyone have the right to tell us how we should wear our natural hair? Frankly, yes.

Uniformed institutions such as the military have that right. The idea of a uniform is to equalize members and to homogenize the ‘unit’ into an identity. Want to wear your hair your way, all day? The military may not be for you. A cursory glance at a website owned by the US Navy has photographs and clear instructions on the authorized length and styling of hair.

Women of every ethnicity are required to conform to the same guidelines. Regardless of texture, hair can be worn open as long as is no longer than two inches. The Navy also allows for braids, cornrows, wigs and weaves on duty as long as they are styled, like other long hair styles, into a bun.  The black natural styles shown are like those that African-American women wear voluntarily in civilian life every day of the week.

What about schools? Do they have the right to legislate hairstyles? Of course. They have a right to dictate how their students present themselves. No dye jobs or Mohawks allowed? Fair enough.

When to Object to Rules on Wearing Natural Hair
The rightful objection comes when rule-setting is used insidiously to discriminate against people of color who have chosen not to replicate white “norms”. For example, if a white child is permitted to attend school with his six-inch-long hair falling across his face or brushing his shoulders, but a black child with a six-inch-long Afro or locs is barred from the same school for having ‘untidy’ or ‘unruly’ hair, then this is not about rules. This is about racism and bigotry.

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If a law firm says nothing when a white woman comes to work with her long hair held off her face with a bandeau, but that same firm wants to demonstrate against a black woman coming to work with her halo of natural frizzy hair held off her face with a bandeau, we are talking racism and bigotry.

And if the black women in the office who sports relaxed hair or a straight weave are considered more ‘professional’ than the black women who rock natural twists or locs, we are again talking racism and bigotry. And this is where we should not comply.

However, the news is encouraging. Slowly, but steadily, companies are becoming more aware of the need to embrace and respect racial diversity in the workplace, and laws are constantly being made and revised to ensure this.

What of our responsibility to ourselves, as people of color? It is arrogant folly to believe or promote that that there is only one ‘way’ to be black, or to assume that all black women who relax their hair are ashamed of their heritage.

Further, every adult woman has the right to make her own style choices. The dogged promotion of the ‘them and us’ camps – the relaxed sisters versus natural sisters – is counter-productive and a distraction.

We have bigger cultural issues to confront and solve. The debate should focus first on our health. There are proven and documented risks in using chemicals of any sort on your scalp – and relaxers are among the most damaging.

The Hidden Dangers of Relaxers
Most relaxers contain a cocktail of harsh ingredients, such as sodium hydroxide (lye), parabens and phthalates. (Note: even ‘no lye’ relaxers still cause serious damage over time.) On average, women who relax their hair do so every 8 to 10 weeks – often, for decades.

It is virtually impossible to apply relaxer topically without it getting onto the scalp, and therefore into the body. Follicle damage, irreversible alopecia (baldness), endometriosis, fibroids and heart disease have all been linked to long-term use of relaxers.

Natural BraidsBraid Extensions

How to Transition to Natural Hair
If you are thinking of making a change to a healthier scalp and re-uniting with your natural hair texture, remember that there are several ways to make your transitioning journey easier. And an added bonus is that your hair maintenance costs may well come down because natural hair thrives under the care of coconut oil, Shea butter and other superb natural oils that may be obtained very affordably. The freedom from the tyranny of the relaxer is not to be under-estimated!

Love your natural hair, and watch, in wonder, as it loves you right back.

Healthy scalp, Healthy hair, HealthyLocs!


You see it on TV, movies, and magazines – the most lustrous, shiny, deliciously awesome and bouncy natural curls. You want your hair to look the same way, but don’t have the budget to put a professional stylist on your payroll.

There are many products out in the market for those of us looking to engage in natural hair care. Using a mask is only one solution. Drop the drugstore deep conditioning treatments – they don’t work as well as these do-it-yourself, all-natural hair mask ingredients. After all, why not feed your hair the same healthy foods that you feed the rest of your body?

First, let’s go over the basics. There are key hair mask ingredients in every recipe, and each plays a very important role. So what you put into the hair mask for your kinky, curly, coily hair depends on the current health of your hair.

For example, for battling dry, damaged hair, use extra virgin olive oil and honey. Both key ingredients have restorative properties that add moisture to dry hair. If your hair is dry and dull, use honey. If it’s dry and damaged (like ramen noodles, for instance), use extra virgin olive oil.

For oily hair, use lemon as an astringent to get rid of excess oil. If you don’t want to lighten your hair color (lemon does this), you can dilute the lemon with water (use one-part lemon, two-parts water). If your hair breaks easily, add a little egg for a protein boost, which strengthens your locks.

If your hair is not too dry and not too oily, but still lacks that softness and shine, use coconut oil. If you want softer hair, use milk. If you have dandruff, a little apple cider vinegar will get rid of excess oils on the scalp and clear that flaky stuff right up.
Fruit is not only good for the body, but also for your hair. They are simply the best natural hair mask ingredients.

The next time you buy bananas, buy extra for your hair. Bananas are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, potassium, and natural oils. If you want to moisturize your hair and make it stronger to prevent breakage – and to get your curls to look bouncy – blend one or two overripe bananas with a teaspoon of coconut oil, a teaspoon of olive oil, and a tablespoon of honey. Slather the smoothie into your hair and let it settle for 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and comb through. No need to shampoo out, but a second rinse might be necessary.

If your hair is on the oily side, make a strawberry hair mask for your kinky, curly, coily hair. Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C, which works to control oil production. Simply blend a handful of fresh strawberries (7-10 for shoulder-length hair) to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of honey. Apply evenly to damp hair and leave on for at least 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water, and voila! You have yummy-smelling, healthy, shiny hair!

Try one of these great hair mask and then leave a comment to let me know how it worked for your hair 🙂

Healthy Scalp, Healthy Locs

Nyesha Samuel, Publisher/Master Loctician for


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