Hair is a complicated beauty subject. Especially for black women, hair is straddled between the fact black or even people who have thicker and curlier hair face two separate beauty standards and mainstream cultural acceptance. On one side the mainstream fashion hair industry and hair related products are focused on finer and straighter hair. This means it becomes difficult if not expensive to find products that work on thicker, curlier and black hair. This challenge is not only faced by women, as men who have thicker hair or curlier hair types also need to find solutions from shampoo to styling for their general day to day hair care. Fortunately because of cultural moments both within and outside the beauty industry it is becoming more and more common to see people going natural with their hairstyles and not using treatments to straighten or change the makeup of their hair.
"In general, in the beauty category, black consumers are beginning to embrace their natural self," said Tonya Roberts, a multicultural analyst for Mintel a privately owned, London-based market research firm.
More and more women are wearing a natural hair style and dealing with complicated process of adjusting or changing black hair. Surprisingly enough, according to CNBC, sales of hair care products for African Americans reached $774 million in 2014 but within that value saw a decrease in the products related to hair relaxers. This means natural is in and it is more than just a trend. This is coupled with the increase in demand for natural products in larger chains, which is causing beauty product companies trying to grab market share. Places like Walgreens, Target and Wal-Mart now offer a greater range of options to African-American women with natural brands which allow them to care for their natural hair the its features. The market for African-American hair is huge and opportunities, like products for children and men, still remain remain greatly untapped by the hair and fashion industry. Black hair damage to the hair must be trimmed away or grown out. Info about keeping that damage at bay isn’t always available.
Now if you have Black Hair then this won’t need to be explained to you, but black hair is literally and extremely different than any other hair type. Black hair tends to be curlier and have more kinks and coils. How this happens is dependent on the number of disulfide bonds between hair proteins found in the hair shaft; the greater the number of links, the curlier the hair, and the fewer the number of links, the straighter the hair.
This is loosely measured in a hair type scale system. Hair has a range scale on thickness, curl and coil that any hair stylist or barber would be able to tell you in depth about. For a brief explanation the hair type scale rests between the numbers one to four, where one represents the straightest of hair while four represents the heaviest coil in the hair. So for a majority of African-American women who have black hair they would fall under the value of three or four. There is a secondary alphabetical value from A to C. Hair that is an A would be less of a curl while a C would be a heavier curl, be aware that type one hair has no curl so it contains no sub category for curl. Understanding the values to guage hair does not mean you are stuck in a specific category. No two heads of hair are the same and the classification of your hair type is not definite. Use this chart as more of a help gauge on what types of styling or off the shelf products would be best applied for your hair.
A majority of ethnic groups on earth tend to have slight variations of thickness or curl, which in the strongest you may see is wavy or curly strands. Black hair will come down in spirals, coils, loops, or other curves. Hence why you will often see the hair grow up and out rather than out and down. This is a bonus for creating gravity defying shapes from stylized afros and puffs.
Black hair also does grow. Where this myth that black hair doesn’t grow came from is anyone’s guess. The real measurement of hair growth is it’s length after accounting for breakage. Since black hair obviously has more curls, these same curls tend to bind and twist and break more easily. This is also another running joke where black woman loses a very long braid and needs to grab the broken braid off the ground before they cause anyone with straighter hair massive panic. That being said it generally comes down to how well you take care of your hair and it takes a little more TLC to avoid breakage with black hair. The more a hair curls the more points of breakage will be running along the hair shaft. More curls more bends to break. Since of the gravity defying curls and easy breakage most people tend to keep their black hair quite short.
While there is a blossoming appeal of black hairstyles going all natural, there are also treated and other chemical hairstyles that provide anyone with black hair to be able to change if they prefer their hair straight. Perms, weaves, and extensions are all options for Black women, and sometimes having one or more or all simultaneously. What needs to be explained first is the “perm”. While straighter hair tends to refer to a perm as the chemical application to ensure it will hold a constant curl, a black hair perm is about holding it straight. This is also commonly referred to as having “relaxed” hair. This is where you would commonly see black women with very fine straight looking hair since it has been chemically treated. Be aware that some individuals who come from a mixed background may naturally have finer hair without it being chemically treated so don’t assume! The weave is tight braids on the scalp and natural or artificial hair woven into the braids. This allows for intense long and strong hair and rapid styling. Things like natural dreads and braids take anyone a long time to grow and the weave allows anyone with black hair to easily stylize and create their own look.