These posts are a "safe space" to ask questions you might otherwise be too shy to. Please do not reply to people with "Plz Google" or "educate yourself". Everyone should enter them with a learn and teach mindset (in that order). WITH THAT SAID, HOWEVER, please remain mindful of your questions and phrasing, be open-minded, learn, and know when to be quiet. If you are flippant with your ignorance, no one will not stop angered members from telling you about yourself.
For current natural curlies, lovelies with locs, transitioners, hopefuls, and folks who are just plain curious! This post is enormous.
Tamara Winfrey Harris tells a story of being in a chain restaurant with her husband when their names were called for a table.
Just as the couple rose to go, a middle-aged white woman standing nearby reached out swiftly to touch Winfrey Harris's hair which at the time was styled in natural twists.
"She missed by mere seconds, she was actually going to grab my hair as I walked past her," recalled Winfrey Harris who runs the blog What Tami Said. "I turned around and she said, 'Oh, your hair is neat.' It just floored me because who does that, just reaches out and touches strangers?"
It's a common tale shared by women of color whose natural hair can attract stares, curiosity, comments and the occasional stranger who desires to reach out and touch.
The reaction to such fondling can range from amusement to outrage over the invasion of personal space.
The discussion surrounding it is often rooted in race relations.
Blogger Los Angelista explained her response to a woman's incredulous "Are you serious, I can't touch your hair?" by writing that no she couldn't, "Because my black ancestors may have been your ancestors' property, and had to smile while they got touched in ways they didn't want to, but I am not YOUR property and never will be so you'd best move your hand away from me."
"Natural hair" for black women is, by definition, hair that is not processed and not chemically altered. Straightened hair is often viewed as easier to care for and more attractive.
Rather than use chemical straighteners known as relaxers (also sometimes called "creamy crack" for both the damage it can do to black hair as well as the inability of some women to live without it) some women wear their hair in its natural state.
Natural hair can be described as curly, kinky, wavy, or -- the sometimes dreaded and considered by some to be an offensive word -- nappy.
Black hair fuels a more than billion-dollar industry which includes products, weaves, and wigs that can enable African-American women to change up their styles at a whim. Tons of websites, blogs, books and videos about natural hair exist to educate those desiring to "go natural."
The style has been embraced for reasons of fashion, politics and simply by those unwilling to spend the time and money to maintain their chemically processed hair.
So why the continuing fascination with natural hair, given that so many women of color are now rocking the style and have been for years?
Keneesha Hudson said that despite the growing number of women embracing their natural hair texture, it's still considered unique.
Hudson is the owner/founder of Urbanbella, a company in Atlanta that specializes in helping women embrace their natural hair texture. She first went natural in 2002 when she did the "big chop" (cutting all of her processed hair off) so she could have the freedom to swim, she said, and today she sports a thick mane of natural curls.
"For the longest time we black women have been wearing our hair chemically straightened to a point where most of us really don't know what our natural hair looks like," Hudson said. "There's a generation of us who have never even seen our hair in any form but straight except for baby pictures."
Visitors to her salon will sometimes ask to touch her hair to establish that it is actually all hers and not a wig or a weave, she said, while still others are strangers who "sneak and touch it."
"We love to go to the football games, and there's a group of guys that sit behind us," Hudson said. "One week, towards the end of the season, one of the guys in cheering just kind of laid his hands on my head like 'Yeah!' I said 'That has nothing to do with cheering for the game,' but I just find those little moments happen a lot."
In 2008, Renee Martin wrote "Can I Touch Your Hair? Black Women and The Petting Zoo" for her blog Womanist Musings and said she continues to get e-mails from women thanking her for her post and relaying their personal experiences about their hair being touched.
Some white women who responded, Martin said, shared their stories of their own hair being touched in countries populated by people of color. They chalked it up to natural curiosity and accused Martin of being too sensitive, she said.
But she says she doesn't think the crux of the issue has to do with curiosity.
"I think it's the idea that they have the right to possess black women and they will take any excuse they can to jump over the border, whether it's policing our behavior or policing our hair," Martin said. "I think it's about ownership of black bodies more than it has to actually do with hair."
Actress Issa Rae, star/creator of the web series "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl," said she has been natural all of her life. She had cut her hair and worked the short afro into the character, who was heartbroken and starting over.
Rae has endured the comments of "Eww, why is your hair like that? Why are you trying to go back to slavery?" from other African-Americans and says that, growing up, she had requests to touch her hair from both blacks and whites.
The touching doesn't bother her as much as "when they ask stupid questions to make me feel like my hair is alien hair."
"I had someone ask me if I wear my hair like this to honor my ancestors, and that was funny to me," she said. "This is not for Kunta [Kinte]."
Rae notes that in the 1970s, there was an afro movement for a while, but it died down in the 1980s. There are quite a few layers when it comes to discussions about black hair, from length to texture, and hair is very much tied to the culture, she said.
"Hair is just a huge component of blackness, so it's not going to go away," she said.
Tia Mosley, 29, went natural at the age of 12 when she refused to get her hair relaxed anymore. The inquisitiveness about her 'do is as natural as the hair on her head, she said.
"People want to touch my hair all the time and I have no problem with it," she said. "I have a problem with the touching and the attempt to touch without asking."
Mosley said that when she used to work at a predominantly white theater company in northern Georgia, her hair was viewed as exotic and stirred up a great deal of interest.
"They thought I was from the islands and they had lots of questions about my hair," she said laughing. "I would say 'No, I'm from the island of Houston, Texas."
Source - also features video
I added pictures in the main article to get people to read it but I know the real reason y'all were so thirsty for this post....
OP Intro: Now most of you who have been graced with 3b hair and up know that “hair tips” in most mainstream magazines have nothing to do with us. When they do bother to make a (bare minimum) effort, they reference photographs of women who are wearing wigs, weaves, have chemical relaxers, or are completely bald. They use fake/photoshopped hair as a reference point for hair health (who do they think they're fooling??) and they recommend products that were clearly not designed for our hair type. They don't even talk about hair lotions, oils, or any other kind of product that would add moisture to drying hair, just "sheen spray" or "anti-frizz" serum. Gee thanks! Their standard for curls is “hair like Hermione”. They write about our natural hair as though it's unmanagable unless it's straight (false, false, false) In fact, it's actually quite difficult to find mainstream articles that don’t have negative undertones about kinky hair, if not outright boldly declaring its undesirability. Well, in recent years more and more black women are feeling as though they don't need to "hide" their hair anymore! Go behind the cut to see the way black women are redefining their culture through hair care!
Care and Products
Let’s start with the basics… what hair type are you?
View enormous chart here!
It’s okay if you still can’t tell what your hair type is after looking at these charts, my type seems to vary between 3f and 4c depending on length, dryness (dry hair = DOOM AND GLOOM), humidity and its overall mood (yes, my hair has a personality and that is “rude and angry”; it does not like to be petted and sniffed at the bank).
For the most part the ingredients that work best for black, or any type of hair for that matter, come from good ol’ Mother Earth. So whether you’re relaxed or natural, your products shouldn’t be too terribly hard to pronounce. The next time you’re “navigating the beauty aisles” look for these ingredients:
Biotin: This vitamin promotes the growth of cells that reproduce quickly, like nails, skin, and hair. They actually sell biotin in a vitamin supplement form.
Folic Acid: Believe it or not this is another B vitamin you need to have in your medicine cabinet or under your sink. (Don’t let the F in Folic fool you- it’s B9.) This vitamin also works on the cell level. It helps your body use and create protein, which we’ll learn later is very important for the hair.
Shea Butter: Has anyone else noticed how shea butter seems to be in everything these days? I remember when it was novel to see vendors selling it on the street, now it’s gone mainstream. And rightly so, this magical, motherland cream cures dryness of scalp and hair, adding a sheen to it. It’s easily absorbed and protects hair from the elements.
The Oils: castor, coconut, and peppermint: With the exception of castor these oils sound delicious. Yup the same flavors that excite your tastebuds actually work to stimulate your scalp and nourish your hair.
Avocado/Avocado oil [is] packed with vitamins A, D, E, and contains more potassium than bananas. Easily absorbed into the skin, avocado oil is a quick way to get multiple nutrients onto your scalp for improved hair growth.
Castor oil prevents hair loss, moisturizes and has been said to contribute to your hair’s overall thickness.
Coconut oil is the perfect moisturizer for your hair, especially when it’s damp. Remember not to overdo a good thing. Even though it smells heavenly moderation is still key.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is an emollient that seals and softens the hair. The “extra virgin” on a label means it was produced using only physical means (no machines involved) and has no chemical treatment to alter it. Use it as a quick pre-shampoo or a deep conditioner.
Peppermint oil balances the ph in your hair and scalp, so whether you suffer from hair that’s too dry or too oily, the peppermint oil will get you where you need to go to grow. It also stimulates and opens the pores in the scalp.
Tea tree oil [has] potent antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties [and] is a soothing remedy to a dry scalp. It is an essential (concentrated) oil, so a little goes a VERY long way. Over-application of a potent essential oil may actually cause irritation.
Panthenol: Here’s yet another form of vitamin B. (Notice a pattern?) This one binds to the hair and extracts moisture from the hair.
Keratin: This is a type of protein found in hair, skin, and nails. As we know much of our hair, nails, and skin are dead but these dead cells protect the newly grown ones underneath. The thicker the layer of fresh keratin the faster your hair (and nails) will grow.
Eggs: This easily accessible food restores protein to the hair. Like keratin the proteins strengthen the hair. You can put raw eggs directly on your hair and use it as conditioner.
Aloe Vera Juice/Gel: Aloe vera adds true moisture to the hair. It is actually absorbed into the hair strand. Try it as a daily moisturizing spritz!
Vegetable Glycerin: Natural Hair products containing vegetable glycerine act as strong humectants—meaning, they attract and bind water to themselves. Vegetable glycerine also creates a layer of oil over the hair strand, thus aiding in the retention of moisture. Try combining it with aloe vera juice to create an even better moisture spritz!
Jojoba Extract: Jojoba is another humectant perfect for adding to damaged ends.
Source and Source
Creating your own hair crockery takes time, space, and (for some ingredients) money. But you can make lots of easy home conditioners, cleaners, and moisturizers out of ingredients you probably already have.
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
Natural Hair Cookbook
Petroleum only coats the hair and scalp, and creates the illusion of moisture and shine. This coating also prevents moisture from getting in and attracts dirt and dust.
Alcohol is the main ingredient in many gels, which dries the hair out severely.
Sodium Lauryl or Laureth Sulfate is a harsh cleanser found in most shampoos. It strips the hair of moisture. To combat this, try diluting your shampoo by filling a spray bottle with half distilled water and half shampoo. Be sure to use a moisturizing conditioner afterward. You can also opt to use the no-poo method.
Mineral Oil should be avoided in both hair and skin products as it coats and acts in the same manner as petroleum.
Silicones or Cones are added to conditioners to add sheen to the hair. Silicones coat the hair over time, leaving it dull and lifeless. It also prevents other products from penetrating the hair shaft, thus keeping moisture out. Be sure to check your conditioner for this ingredient.
Protein can dry the hair out, which may lead to breakage. Be careful with protein treatments, and always follow up with a deep moisturizing conditioner.
Glycerin in the wrong climate can dry out your hair as well. Glycerin works well with humidity but may do more harm than good in drier climates.
Avoid beeswax and butters for locs. There is a misconception that products such as beeswax help the hair to loc; however, hair locs simply because it is not combed and products do not speed up the process. Your hair will loc in due time, and though beeswax may aid in controlling the "fuzzies" more so than other products, just allow and embrace this stage. Your locs will thank you. Opt for lighter products for re-twisting, like aloe vera gel or a spritz of distilled water and your favorite carrier oil (jojoba, sweet almond, etc) to keep your locs free of build up.
Wide tooth comb
Rat tail Comb
Soft Bristle Brush
Everyone's favorite accessory, I know!
Satin Cap & Scarf
Essentials tools for locs
OP Note: Natural hair care, I've found, is still a pretty underground topic. The community is exploding right now (I started two years ago and I've noticed a recent surge in the number of friends I have making the transition) but in terms of mainstream visibility we're still very much ignored. Also, a surprising number of people will assume that because you wear your hair natural, and you don't look like you came from a Tim Burton movie, that you're mixed (even if every visible feature about you would point to the contrary) and thus don't need ~alternative instructions~ on how to care for your hair.
What You Need to Know About Chemical Relaxers
Hair breakage, hair thinning, lack of hair growth, scalp irritation, scalp damage, hair loss. These are just some of the complaints from many who experience problems due to the misuse of chemical hair relaxers. In fact, the FDA lists hair straighteners and hair dyes among its top consumer complaint areas. Yet, in so many stores around the country, chemicals are available for everyone to use, without much instruction, a powerful process which transforms the basic chemical makeup of the hair strand. Before beginning any hair treatment, especially one that introduces chemicals to your hair, you owe it to yourself to be well informed. Armed with a better understanding of this process, you will be able to make good decisions with regard to hair and scalp care.
If you have naturally tightly curled hair you have the option of styling it using products specifically designed for your hair type as it is, or the option to straighten the hair which opens up further hair styles to be available to you. However, chemically straightening the hair should be carefully thought out and thoroughly studied. We have compiled essential information on chemical hair relaxers and urge you to read the following carefully and, if not for yourself, share it with a friend.
His name was Garrett Augustus Morgan and he was born the seventh of eleven children of former slaves. He is best known for his invention of the automatic traffic signal and gas mask. But it was around 1910 that he stumbled upon what would become his contribution to the hair care products industry and what would pave the way for several other entrepreneurs and manufacturers over the next hundred years.
While working in a sewing machine repair shop attempting to invent a new lubricating liquid for the machine needle, it is widely believed that Morgan wiped his hands on a wool cloth, returned the next day, found the woolly texture of the cloth had “smoothed out”, and set out to find how the liquid chemical had changed the texture as it had. He experimented on an Airedale dog, known for their curly textured hair, and the effect was successfully duplicated.
Morgan then tried his lubricating liquid invention on himself, called it a “hair refining cream”, and thus patented the first chemical hair straightener. He founded a personal grooming products company which included hair dying ointments, curved-tooth pressing combs, shampoo, hair pressing gloss, and the one that started it all: the “G.A. Morgan's Hair Refiner Cream” (advertised to “Positively Straighten Hair in 15 Minutes”).
Read more at the source!
Featured Hair Vlogs and Other Recs
AFRICANEXPORT - a hair savante; also hilarious
BlackIzBeautyful - of KinkyCurlyCoilyMe
elliptic2012 - for locs
KimmayTube - her advice should be in science books, not even kidding
Naptural85 - I am always slain with jealousy at the fabulousness of her hair; when I make my millions I'm employing her as my on-hand hair expert fyi (I promise to pay well and provide full benefits)
nikkimo75 - for locs; she doesn't update anymore due but her vids are still great
prettypoison127 - loc care and maintenance
Shawnta715 - transitions between locs and natural hair; has how-to vids on how to take locs out as well
Black Girl with Long Hair
Black Women, Natural Hairstyles - WARNING: you probably won't have the hair skillz to execute like 98% of the stuff here (I, certainly, do not) but the pics are fun and sometimes it's fun to experiment
Diary of a Kinky Curly Transitioner
Kinky Curly Coily Me
Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care - a white couple's transracial adoption results in a blog about their journey learning to care for their daughter's natural hair; don't overlook this blog, the mom has come up with some amazing styles for "Boo"
Happy Girl Hair - a mom of twins with drastically different hair types; also has great general care tips in the FAQ section
Little Brown Notebook
Moptop Maven - inactive because of illness, but she has great care tips!
Naptural85 - the Hair Queen's blog
The Natural Haven
Natural Selection Blog
TyteCurl - includes care for locs
Bee Mine Products
From Nature With Love - sells raw products
It's Perfectly Natural - a woman sells her (pricey) homemade potions online
Miss Jessie's - EEP! @ the prices but I use this stuff and it's awesome
Terressentials - apparently makes the only USDA Certified Organic hair wash in the United States... listen to Queen Naptural Hair herself talk about it...
You can also buy your own raw products at grocery stores, farmer's marketsl, organic food markets to mix up your own homemade hair potions!
Natural Hair Everything, Fuck Yeah Natural Hair, le coil, Kinky & Curly Unite, Black Girls Rock
Afro-textured Hair - brought to you by Wikipedia
Natural or Relaxed?: The Black Women’s Dilemma
Please offer any additional hair tips, styles, PICTURES, products, and techniques you use to care for your hair! Also anecdata about your own hair transition journeys, big chops, experiences with family/friends/colleagues/etc. or anything else that may be helpful for us currently in the journey and those unsure if pursuing natural hair is the right option for them.
Coming Soon (not in order): Women's health*, mental health*, LGBTQI issues*, WOC Issues*, POC Issues*, 2011 Winter Community Service, homelessness, medical marijuana, healthy eating (with budgets considered) and many more! Suggestions are welcome!
* planned to be an ongoing series
I understand that some of you are eager to assist with these posts, and I'm happy to accept! The topics I'll probably need the most help with will be topics in the health categories (especially mental health) and the LGBTQI series, but if anyone has an awesome source or tidbit of info they'd like to share on any topic, I'm more than willing to accept that contribution, with credit to your effort.
With many topics I understand that privacy may be a concern for some of you, and I will honor that. If you would not like for your username to be listed in the credits, just say so at any time prior to the post going up and I'll be sure to list you as unnamed.
If you'd like to help out with any topic, PM me.