Introducing a new MSR column that will answer all your questions on returning to natural hair
In the Beginning there was a curl. I’m talking about our “Afro-textured hair,” and make no mistake about it, we were all born with natural hair…sometimes called nappy, kinky, coily, curly and even straight with intent to curl.
The “Bergamot grease blue or green jar” was a staple in our arsenal of natural hair care, especially when it was time for the young girls to hold down them ears and get their hair straightened with a hot comb. The straight hair style could last up to a week or more as long as you did not get your hair wet.
It did not matter if you got burnt or your hair was smoking during the temporary straightening process. When all was said and done, the hair was straight and shiny.
Times did get better. We graduated to a very strong chemically based product that changed the molecular structure of our hair, allowing our tresses to be straight from weeks to months.
As young women growing up through society, with media and some family tradition, we were conditioned at an early age to believe that our tightly coiled or curly hair was unattractive, hard to manage, and lacked the ability to be worn in many styles.
In the ‘60s the Afro was a hit, and periodically we see cornrows or French braids as a styling option. In the ‘70s, Bob Marley made locks look sexy.
But now, it seems in every magazine I’ve viewed over the past several years I’ve seen models, articles, or images of Black Women “rocking their natural hair. Think about it: For many Black women, we may not have seen our natural hair due to relaxing, some since as early as three years of age.
Others may have been fortunate to be older or received a relaxer in their teenage years when they still had some memory of a curl pattern. “Shout out” to those of you whom were never relaxed.
Well, I am here to tell you, times are changing and women want to reclaim their roots. Is it a natural hair movement or is it a trend? What I will say is this: it is a lifestyle that women are embracing their natural hair intentionally or by default and taking it serious.
Not only can you embrace your natural tresses, but it is now becoming fashion friendly. Hallah! I see the increase of vloggers and bloggers, some working full time sharing their techniques, tips, expertise, ideas and perspectives on caring for natural hair. It seems that in the 21st century, having the opportunity to be increasingly innovative and creative in the workplace, marketplace or any other place lets us bring our “whole” self to the table.
As a natural hair coach and enthusiast, I hear women struggle with questions or thoughts before going natural, like, “If I have had a relaxer since I was a child, what will my natural hair look like on me? Will I like it? Will others like the way it looks on me? Do I even have a choice on whether I go natural? Am I scared natural due to a bad chemical experience? Is this act too bold for me to go natural? Will my mate think I’m attractive? Do I have a hook in my head? Do I have to do a “Big Chop” and cut off all my hair? How do I care for my hair?”
Those questions and many more at some point will run across a person’s mind upon entertaining the idea of going natural. Design Essentials, an Atlanta-based hair-care company, conducted a 2010 study on the popularity of natural hair showing that the number of Black women who dropped the use of products to chemically relax or straighten their hair jumped to 36 percent in 2011, up 10 percent from 26 percent in 2010. According to USA Today and Mintel, a consumer spending and market research firm, sales of relaxers dropped by 17 percent between 2006 and 2011.
Natural hair is making a comeback. Through this natural hair series, we will explore how to care for natural hair, uncover myths, embrace and educate ourselves on our hair whether yours is styled cropped, locked, chopped, weaved, relaxed, natural, dyed, fried, or laid to the side.
Keep in mind that being pro-natural does not mean you are anti-relaxer. I like mine Fro Real No Lye!
Natural hair coach and enthusiast Kelley Eubanks welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.