Unlike what most people believe, dealing with natural Afro centric hair is not a difficult task. The most difficult task is dealing with misconceptions that we have regarded as facts for so long that they became an accepted reality for many of us.
Norm Versus Normal
Common misconceptions about Afro Hairstyles being hard to manage and undesirable did not just appear out of the blue one day. A closer look will tell you that African-American hair routines – the way it is combed, washed and styled – is merely based on a straight hair care model. This is hardly a surprise. Straight hair has been a dominating beauty standard in our society for such a long time that it became the norm and we unconsciously adopted it as a model for all hair types. However, the standards for straight hair are not necessarily correct or healthy for kinky hair. By using these standards as a norm for all other hair types, we confuse the norm with what is not normal.
This pattern has occurred for centuries throughout history and we must clear up this contradiction. Your hair does not need to be straight to be beautiful; beautiful hair comes in all textures and in all lengths. Additionally, Afro centric hair responds differently to styling designed for straight hair and therefore needs its own routines, but that does not imply that Afro hair is unmanageable, bad or abnormal. Before we get into African-American hair routines, let us first try to clear up some other stubborn misconceptions.
Afro Centric Hair Cannot Grow Long?
It is still a pervasive belief that Afro centric hair cannot grow long. When you offer a cursory look around you hardly see women of colour with natural long hair. This is deceiving because naturally straight hair is compared to chemically straightened hair. Hair that is chemically treated to look straight has been through numerous process to keep it straight. It is very likely that blow drying, press and/or curling and flat ironing are also done on a regular basis to keep the hair straight. These treatments can cause slpit ends that sooner or later break off, resulting in the misconception of little or no hair growth from the scalp. In reality, the problem is hair loss on the ends. This makes the comparison unfair because naturally straight hair does not need all the unhealthy treatments to keep the strands straight.
A closer look will show that African-American women with very long hair usually wear natural hair styles like dreadlocks. To make a fair comparison, compare long, natural, straight hair to naturally cultivated dreadlocks. The long dreadlocked hair may appear to be shorter simply due to the natural curl pattern. Do you still believe that African-American hair cannot grow long?
There is nothing like natural hair, but if the hair needs a break or time to recover, extensions or weaves are good choices. Whether hair needs recovery from former abuse or from a hair style gone wrong, these methods will allow for natural, undisturbed hair growth if the job is done right.
A good weave will add length and fullness to your hair while protecting it. The same goes for extensions that are correctly braided into your hair. Most hair grows best if left alone. It is important to understand that if the hair is braided too tight, this can cause permanent hair loss from the scalp (Tension Alopecia). If the hair is well protected by extensions or a weave, the hair has a chance to grow undisturbed, free from pulling and environmental treats like the sun. The advantage of weaves and extensions is really that they can wear any hair style while growning their own hair.
Natural Afro Centric Hair is Hard to Manage?
This misconception that Afro Centric hair is hard to manage is based on the customs of daily combing and daily styling the hair. Natural Afro centric hair does not need combing or styling everyday because hair styles stay unimpaired for at least one week on average. In addition, most combs are unsuitable for natural Afro centric hair. That means being able to quickly comb through the hair on a daily basis cannot be used as a standard to define Afro hair as “hair to manage.” This would be like defining straight hair as unmanageable because it is defficult to braid and it can hardly keep a braid, conrow or curl. It does not make sense.
Straightening Afro Centric Hair Makes Hair Care Easier?
It may seem easy to comb through and style straightened hair on a daily basis, but it certainly is not easier to care for relaxed hair. Contrary to popular belief, it is very high maintenance. In fact, chemically altered hair is more difficult to care for than natural hair because of chemical damange. Relaxers first deteriorate the outer layer (cuticle) of a hair strand and then subsequently break the hair inner structure so that the hair can become straight. This makes the hair more vulnerable.
Relaxers not only makie it harder to maintain healthy hair, they also limit lifestyles. To maintain a straight and healthy looking hairstyle, customer condition, roller set, blow dry, wrap or flat iron hair, which can cause hair loss as described earlier. After all efforts put into creating a hairstyle, they do everything to keep it over time and limit activities that will not hinder the style. They do not exercise because perspiration causes premature reversion of the hair, as does swimming and a lot of other outdoor activities. The truth is, chemicals really do not make life easier and they make it harder to maintain healthy hair.
The human head loses up to hundred strands of hair each day due to nomal attrition as the hair approches the end of its normal life span of five to seven years. When extensions are attached, the natural elimination of hair is trapped instead of falling away naturally and unnoticeably. When the extensions are taken out, the trapped hair is released all at once instead of a little at a time unnoticed.
Natural African Hair is Difficult to Style?
Styling natural hair is not difficult at all. It may take some time getting used to like when you first learned to roller set, wrap, blow dry or hot iron your hair, but natural hair is no more difficult than that.
Another misconception about Afro centric hair is that the Afro scalp produces less natural scalp oils (sebum) than those from most other cultures. This is based on a common complaint of natural oily build up on straight hair that has t obe shampooed off daily. Afro centric hair will not have that much oily build up in a week, and sometimes not at all. The fact is that African-American scalps and skin produce up to three times as much sebum than most other cultures, with little or no build-up on the hair.
The reason for this is that Afro centric hair has up to five times as much bonding and cells in each hair shaft than others, resulting in Afro centric hair capable of absorbing up to five times as much oils. Hair care products designed for African-American consumers contain more oils than those for the general market. Cosmetics aimed at the Afro centric consumer contain less oil for the same but opposite reason, because Afro entric skin is oiler due to little or no hair t oabsorb it.
Hopefully, by clearing up these basi stubborn misconceptions you will be able to separate facts from fiction. Being able to separate the two is an important part of this journey. It means that you are ready and open to see the beautiful truth about natural Afro centric hair.
- Q&A – Afro Hair Style for Boys (hairtobeauty.wordpress.com)
- Factors which Influence Hair Growth for Natural Hair (hairtobeauty.wordpress.com)
- History and Future of Press and Curl Market (hairtobeauty.wordpress.com)
- Q&A – Afro Style for Son (hairtobeauty.wordpress.com)
- Asians with Afro’s, Braids and more..my musings and thoughts (afroetic.com)
- Guide to Proper Flat Ironing (hairtobeauty.wordpress.com)
- Hair Relaxing History [two of two] (hairtobeauty.wordpress.com)