Comedian Chris Rock’s exploration of afro hair in the 2009 documentary Good Hair revealed an industry hell-bent on the European look: straight hair that was achieved through chemical relaxers. The film also touched on a subject that was all too familiar to many thousands of people: hair loss, as caused by poorly applied or overly-harsh chemical treatments.
Fast forward six years, however, and times are a-changing.
Natural hair movement
As celebrities, from singers Solange Knowles (Beyonce’s sister, pictured) and Erykah Badu to actresses Lupita Nyong’o and Viola Davis, embrace their natural hair, more women are starting to follow their lead.
According to an article in New York Magazine, rising consumer interest in natural, untreated hair has resulted in lower sales for salons dedicated to extensions and chemically-treated hair.
The Atlanta Black Star agrees. “Right now, the coily-textured, tightly-coiled hair is the most popular because the natural hair movement is in full swing,” says celebrity hair stylist Diane Da Costa, in an article headlined Did Natural Hair Kill the Black Hair Salon?
Influenced by health and the internet
The article argues that unlike in the 1960s, when afro hair was left natural for political reasons, this time around it has more to do with “health, autonomy and personal growth.” It also points out that websites such as CurlyNikki.com and popular YouTube sites have proven influential.
Da Costa, meanwhile, reckons that many of the women opting for the natural look are at least partly influenced by finance. “They want to save money,” she says.
The subject of natural hair was certainly a talking point at the recent Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show in Atlanta – an annual highlight for black Americans who have in an interest in the beauty industry and an event which also featured in Rock’s 2009 film.
For his part, Rock apparently hit on the idea for the documentary when his young daughter said, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?”, referring to the curly, afro hair she was born with.
In the documentary, Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air actress Nia Long explains that: “There’s always this sort of pressure within the black community, like if you have good hair you’re prettier or better than the brown-skinned girl that wears the afro or the dreads or the natural hairstyle.”
A welcome change
This change in trends is certainly a healthy step for black hair, which can often be prone to styling damage due to its naturally dry texture.
“Chemical relaxers and straightening treatments always come with an element of risk,” says Leonora Doclis, Belgravia Senior Trichologist, “This can increase exponentially when done frequently and without the necessary care and attention, whether they are carried out professionally in a salon, or by using a home styling kit. Accidents can and do happen, and the horror stories of straightening treatments gone bad are legion. These types of accidents can lead to thinning from hair breakage, where strands snap off along the shaft.”
Additionally, tight hairstyles including braids such as cornrows, and sew-in weaves, are further fraught with problems. “Traction Alopecia is a common complaint among black women, as well as anyone who wears hair extensions” she says. “Due to the excessive tension these styles create and place on hair follicles, they can lead to severe hair loss particularly around the hair line, which bears the brunt of the constant pulling. Although we offer treatment for Traction Alopecia, prevention is always a better option, so if the natural look is in, then women would be doing their hair the world of good by following the trend.”
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.