This was a speech given at the International Black Hairitage Month in Paris on 8th October 2011.
LOVE YOUR HAIR – YOU WERE BORN THIS WAY
7 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW WHEN WORKING WITH NATURAL BLACK HAIR
1. UNDERSTAND THE NATURAL BLACK HAIR BEFORE MAKING ANY CHANGES TO IT:
80% of the world population are people of colour – Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and yet the textbook and scientific understanding of hair – its structure and function comes from research that has been done on Caucasian people.
The Black Hair industry is a huge industry as statistics show –
Population – USA Black Americans 38,929,319 as at 2010, in the UK 1,148,738 as at 2001, in Africa 1,022,234,000 as at 2010 etc etc.
Revenue – UK in 2004, the Black Hair industry was worth £60million. South Africa in 2002 it was $90million, USA in 2008 it was $14.7billion By 2013 it will be worth $4.2trillion in the USA.
Who owns this industry – Blacks have no control of this industry. They only own about 30% while the World leader in hair care generally and black hair care in particular is Loreal – a French owned company. In 2000, the company invested $11million in the multi-million dollars Loreal Institute for Ethnic Hair and Skin Research. Based in Chicago, this centre is to better understand the distinct properties of the hair and skin of people of African descent – fusing science and beauty to develop a wider range of products to sell to people of Black and mixed race across the world.
Why do we need this information? For us to better understand the scale of what we are dealing with. The biggest problem we face within the Black Community is to understand our natural hair and skin. We have refused to take on our role but have given have passed on this role to people of other races. How can we address this problem?
We have to start by taking stock and asking the most basic questions like - What is natural black /Afro Hair? How can you care for it and maintain it? How does it grow? What causes damage? What are the best products for it? What are the best tools that work with it? How do we style it? etc etc.
Black hair is different from all other races in shape and composition. It is vulnerable, fragile and requires extra care. It is naturally dry and requires extra moisture.
The number of heads that we can help with products, tools, styles, education, information, accessories etc are uncountable according to statistics. Currently there are no schools teaching Virgin Black Hair. We educate ourselves on Hairdressing /cosmetology schools run by people of other races whose teachings are based on other hair types excluding our hair type. The research and education these colleges use are based on Caucasian hair information and knowledge and when they mention the Black hair, they call it the most difficult and bad hair type. But we believe there is a reason we were created with this hair. Our first role is to understand how to work with it – afterall our great great grand mothers worked with it – Madam C J Walker. This is where World of Braiding has taken on the current challenge of understanding the virgin Black hair. Our trainings incorporate understanding Afro Hair and how to work with it without altering its natural state. Finding out how to glamorise, style, beautify and make it wearable for everyday life. We encourage you to understand your hair before you do anything to it.
2. GET TRAINING BEFORE YOU START:
No one should undertake working with anything without understanding what it is and how it works. This also applies to hair. As a hairdresser, you attend a college and get training to do your job. This rule should also apply to Virgin Black hair. Our hair stylist should take up trainings on natural hair before allowed to touch our hair. This is what is causing the amount of untold damage in the Black hair community as everyone pretends to be an expert in Black hair yet giving the most unbelievable fraudulent advice. With training, you will save a lot of hair damage which is forcing Black people to buy products that do not add value to our hair but continue to drain our pockets and leaving us continuously poor while other communities get richer on our money. Time we stop being used as money making machines for manufacturers of damaging products for Black hair.
3. WORK WITH THE RIGHT PRODUCTS:
What products are you putting into your hair? Experience and lots of research is currently showing that the biggest problem the Black hair faces is the use of the right products. Reading the labels of shampoos, conditioners etc show that products targeted at black hair contains damaging chemical substances that further dry out the already naturally dry black hair. Knowing the right product that works well with our hair type will save a lot of hair damage which is forcing us to buy more products that continue to fill our bathroom shelves but do not add value to our lives.
4. WORK WITH THE RIGHT SKILLS / STYLING:
What hair styles are you wearing? Are the styles you work with healthy for your hair? Wearing your hair styles like braids, weaves, extensions etc on a base of natural black hair is very useful as your hair is protected and there are no pressures on your natural hair. This is where hair stylist need training again as presently, they are telling their clients to first apply chemicals on their natural hair before these styles can be worn. This is wrong information and it is based on ignorance. When braids, weaves and extensions are applied on an already chemically processed hair, this leads straight to damage as has been experienced in our community even among celebrities who have enough financial resources but because they are dealing with ignorant stylist, they end up with bald hair, patches etc where Naomi Campbell is a well-known example.
5. WORK WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS:
What hair tools are you using to work with your black hair? Do these tools work with your hair? What combs, clips, brushes etc do you work with.
6. WORKING WITH THE RIGHT IMAGES AND ROLE MODELS:
We need to support and encourage our celebrities who model and show off their natural hairstyles. Teyana Taylor, Jada Pinket Smith, Alycia Keys, Brandy, Solange Knowles are a few to mention. These images need to be glamorised and portrayed in magazines, newspapers etc. These magazines need to do more to encourage black women to love wearing hairstyles that are less damaging to their natural hair.
7. WORKING WITH THE RIGHT ACCESSORIES:
Black hair needs to be beautified and glamorised. What are we using to give us the look we want and need to look the part. Clips, pins, hair combs etc. We need to research more so as to see beauty from our point of view.
Nature did not make a mistake with our hair. We have the most versatile, creative and easy to work with hair type. Do not ruin it. Work well with it.
If you have been affected by wrong style, bad hair stylist, wrong information / advice, please feel free to contact us with your information. We are happy to advice you on your hair dilemmas.
CEO & Founder of World of Braiding & Extensions Ltd
Joy is a Natural Hair and Extensions Specialist, Consultant, Designer and Educator. She is a Hair Business Coach, Mentor & Adviser etc. She has been practising Natural Hair and Extensions for over 25 years and has been in Hair Business Education for over 7years. With careers span over various industries, Joy is a well-established business woman, a Professional NVQ Level 3 Hairdresser and a member of the UK Hairdressing Council. Joy has undertaken training in Natural Hair and Extensions from USA, UK & various African Countries. As hair plays a major role in the Black Community, Joy is an advocate and supporter of growing and developing this industry for the benefit and enrichment of the Black Community. She is a firm believer of glamorous healthy natural hairstyles for Black Women as she knows it contributes to self-confidence. She has written and continues to write/ give talks on how to grow the Black hair industry.
Telephone: +44 208 983 9815, +44 7946 439 057
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