This week on BuzzFeed’s Another Round podcast we talk All. About. Hair.
That’s right! Your ‘fros, our ‘fros, relaxed, natural, weaved up, braided out, you name it. We’ve gathered a bunch of wisdom, product suggestions and helpful hair talk from some of our favorite experts.
1. Honor Thy Crown.
We went to the Hair on Purpose conference in Harlem where a bunch of lil babies and teens learned how to internalize positive messages about their hair, and how to radiate that inner confidence with their glorious tresses. Seven year old Alyssa Cheatham, who stars as Will Smith’s daughter in the newly released movie Collateral Beauty, was on hand to share her message to other young women: “I’m feeling confident, I’m feeling amazing, I’m feeling passionate and I’m feeling inspirational and I’m feeling like a teacher and I’m feeling like Beyoncé,” she said. We could all learn a thing from Cheatham and honor our crowns!
2. There’s no such thing as “bad hair.”
Many people of color, especially women, have been on the receiving end of hurtful descriptions regarding their hair from haters and even loved ones who mean well. Fortunately, we’re slowly moving away from pejorative phrases like “bad hair,” although we still have a lot of work to do.
But other words, like nappy and kinky, are already being reclaimed as terms to celebrate the beauty of tight and coarse textures. In the words of our own Tracy Clayton, “Afros ain’t nothing but nappy-ass halos!” Children’s book author Sulma Arzu-Brown wrote this amazing bilingual book, Bad Hair Does Not Exist, to encourage black and latinx kids to embrace their texture early on.
3. Look to people who look like you for your beauty advice.
Queen of the blogs, Afrobella, says people of color often have to dig a little deeper to find representation, as natural hair is often depicted on women with light skin and loose curls. “I want to make sure we’re in everything… and that our voices are always where we’re not expected to be. I think it’s really important to have black women with natural hair, with a different aesthetic of beauty, bringing their opinions to the table at all of these mainstream magazines as well as having their own thing.” Hopefully one day we’ll get there and the mainstream representation of beauty will be vast, but until then, find beauty experts and bloggers who have similar hair textures as your own. You can actually type in “4c natural hair tutorials” and tons of good stuff comes up now. Ah, the beauty of YouTube!
4. “Even though Whitney is everyone’s woman, your hair products are not.” — Tracy
There are so many products, Youtube channels, Instagrams and Tumblrs out there for hair that it can all feel overwhelming. Because hair — especially natural hair — is so individualized, the hardest part of doing your hair is finding the right combination of products and regimens that work best for you.
Afrobella says it’s important to learn what ingredients your hair responds to and recognize that what works for your favorite YouTuber may not work for you. “Some people like coconut oil, some people are allergic to nuts in general and can’t use shea butter. There’s all kinds of variables in hair.” There’s no one product that works for everyone!
5. Respect the ~process~ and strip yourself of misinformation.
“We don’t have the same process and you can’t tell me that my process is dirty or unclean,” says Afrobella. Advice like “‘wash your hair everyday’ dries it out for us,” she says. It’s okay to say, “Wait a minute—brushing my hair 100 times a day and washing my hair every day is not for me.”
Know that having a YouTube channel and a million followers on Instagram doesn’t make anyone an expert, especially on something as intricate as hair care. There’s a lot of misinformation out there so it’s your responsibility to do your research and find out what’s real and what’s not.
6. Turn your locks into a Slip’n’Slide to detangle.
Whether you want to spend a lot on your Mary Poppins bag of detangling tools or not, the most important secret weapon is using a product with a lot of slippage, which will encourage your comb/brush/fingers to glide through the hair and melt tangles instead of breaking it off at gnarly friction points.
7. Invest in quality tools.
The right tools can make all the difference in the world! You don’t need a lot, just a few really good ones to make maintaining and styling your hair easy.
This Ouidad Double Detangler can make wash day less of a nightmare, or this soft elastic hair tie can give you a bomb puff without snagging your edges. If you play your cards right, you may be able to convince someone to get you this detangly wizard wand.
8. Wash day doesn’t have to take all your time and money!
Money is tough to find sometimes, so don’t sleep on that drugstore-chic! You can find lots of products there that are great in a pinch at a low cost. Make sure you read the ingredient labels, though, and don’t just buy products because they’re easy on the wallet. Some ingredients are harsh and have adverse effects over time.
Check out the “Before You Start” section of this natural hair challenge for some common ingredients you should stay away from.
9. Master a few quick and easy styles to save your sanity.
Sometimes you just don’t have three days to do your hair, but you still wanna slay. Figure out how to do a few relatively low-maintenance protective or stretching styles like buns, bantu knots, or the classic Afro puff that you can rock when you need to give yourself a break. Here’s a list of awesome styles that are pretty easy.
10. Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize!
One of the mysteries of black hair life is: how do you maintain the moisture?
BuzzFeed’s Beauty Editor Essence Gant has a step-by-step guide that gets into the hardcore facts and chemistry behind the moisture of your strands.
11. Don’t let your hair stop you from working out and living your healthiest life!
Classic dilemma: your hair is on point, but you need to get dat ass in shape tho. Afrobella assures us that these things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. “Use some kind of sweat absorbing headband, or tie your hair up so you can avoid getting your scalp super sweaty,” she advises. Actress Nicole Ari Parker actually invented this gym wrap to absorb moisture when working out!
Some naturalistas may wonder how often to wash without drying out delicate hair. Afrobella suggests trying “a no-poo or low-poo like Deva Curl,” though, she adds, the formula may not work for everyone. Research a few specifically for your hair type and try them out.
12. Don’t let ignorance and microaggressions ruin your day.
“The world does not know what to do with black women’s hair,” says Heben. STILL. Despite it almost being 2017, some of us are still subject to drive-by pettings from colleagues, strangers and (soon to be former?) friends. Stand up for yourself if you feel you need to, but don’t feel pressured to explain yourself. The most important thing is to respect your own needs!
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