In reality, this would've been a perfect black history month post but I am more than a couple of months late.
*Sighs in disappointment and a busy schedule*
People ask many questions about black people and our hair. Some of those questions come from general curiosity. Sometimes those questions can be phrased in a rather rude or ignorant way.
"I could never spend that much time on my hair"
"Really! You spent that much on getting *looks at amazing box braids* those"
"Do you guys not wash your hair?" This one pisses me off.
Black people, particularly black women, have been demonised for their hair. Maybe from the outside looking in it doesn't appear that way. But I can assure you that most (not all) black girls have experienced rude comments or sometimes even bullying about their hair.
The difference doesn't equal inferiority.
You'd think that human beings would be able to understand such a simple fact.
In this post, I'll be sharing a few facts about black hair how we look after it, and different textures and hairstyles.
#1 We don't need to wash our hair every day.
Shock horror. Who knew that different ethnicities have different wash routines?
But seriously, as black people's hair isn't straight it doesn't get greasy, meaning that we do not have to wash our hair every day. Depending on porosity black hair absorbs water so we need to put OIL BACK into our hair instead of washing it out. Therefore washing our hair every day would only lead it to become dry and brittle.
If you look around in beauty stores such as Superdrug and boots you will see a section for black hair care and most of those products include moisturisers, hair gel and natural hair oils.
- Argan oil
- Almond oil
- Coconut oil
- Jamaican black castor oil etc etc
Using hair oil also makes our hair grow faster and become thicker and healthier. Most black people wash their hair either once a week or twice every two weeks; however, every black person's wash routine varies. In the black community, we often call washing our hair wash day as it literally takes a day/ several hours.
#2 Our hair shrinks!
I wanted to do a random social experiment once in secondary school and I told the white boy that was across from me that my hair shrinks. The boy looked horrified and told me that I was lying and that my hair was fake. I wasn't offended, I found it funny.
How can someone who doesn't have my hair tell me what my hair does?
As I was saying earlier, black hair absorbs water meaning that it ends up shrinking our hair making it appear smaller. To stretch our hair back to its usual length/ volume, we either blow dry it or comb it out then plait it.
Some black people do a wash and go which is pretty self-explanatory with what that is.
I used to despise it when my hair would shrink, I thought it took away from my femininity as in this society being a 'woman' = having long hair which is obviously not true.
Gender is something that has been constructed but that is another talk for another day.
I know I am not the only black girl who used to feel this way. However, wanting to have our hair stretched to its fullest potential isn't just about appealing to the desires of white society. It's also about it being easier to style.
Extra note: In the black hair community we often refer to our hair shrinking as shrinkage.
In conclusion, our hair shrinking is completely natural, all black people's hair can vary, black people with fewer curls ie loose curls will more likely appear to have more length. Which has, unfortunately, lead to a hierarchy not just outside but inside of the black community.
#3 Different textures
I am going to make this section quick because I believe that there has been a lot of fuss and misconception about different hair textures in the natural hair community. I believe that from 2018 onwards that there was a massive surge of black women appreciating their natural hair and creating new styles for the younger generation. This even rubbed off on me and gave me new confidence to play around with my natural kinky hair.
Numbers and letters can label hair types.
For example, the lower the number, the straighter and less curly that person's hair will be.
Added note: Things aren't so black and white, you can have a mixture of multiple different hair types.
Type 3 Type 4
The problem with obsessing too much over hair type is that it leads to competition. Eurocentric beauty standards put light eyes, loose curls/ straight hair and typically white features on a pedestal. Embracing black natural hair means embracing all textures. Whether loose or coiled.
Read this for more information: https://www.functionofbeauty.com/blog/new/how-to-determine-your-hair-type/
#4 Protective hairstyles.
Multiple creative and innovative protective styles are designed for black hair.
My favourite ones are box braids and faux locs. We call these protective styles a black people's hair can be very sensitive to weather. Also as our hair can be very time-consuming getting braided extensions can save a lot of time in the morning and at night.
Here are a few examples of box braids. The brilliant thing about box braids is that they can last for roughly three months, there are many ways that black women can still preserve cleanliness by using different products.
I love some goddess braids!
There can be a lot of hate towards black girls/ black people who wear wigs. We can often face comments like...
"I bet you're bald underneath that wig"
"Isn't that someone else's hair?"
"You're wearing straight hair because you want to be white"
Wigs are also a protective hairstyle, just like braids they are coloured and designed in very creative ways. People often forget that white people as an ethnic group aren't the only people who have straight hair. Asians also have straight hair, it is not exclusive to only one group of people.
There is a huge misconception that black women who wear wigs are hiding their natural hair or that we are 'bald' underneath it all. This is untrue and just because someone is bald doesn't make them unattractive, doesn't make them less of a woman, end of discussion. I would love to try a wig, just to spice things up but at the moment I do not feel comfortable with spending over one hundred quid on a wig but I will be tempted one day...
Black hair is beautiful, no matter what length or type. It needs to be treated with respect. Through social conditioning and the lack of positive representation of black hair in the media many young black kids are taught to hate their hair. Black people then become more and more divided as we only praise what is closer to the beauty that is put on a pedestal in mainstream society.
To the people who do not have that much knowledge of black people's hair before this article just be cautious of your questioning. Don't pull faces or call us names for having different hair care procedures. Black hair is time-consuming, beautiful, and high maintenance a lot of thought and effort goes behind it. So either admire it for what our hair is or simply just move on.
Thanks for reading! Written by Charis.
For more info about this topic check out this article: https://odelebeauty.com/blogs/the-rinse/black-hair-history-facts
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