It Is no secret that afro hair is different, the look and feel are strong indicators of that fact. This is one of the reasons for the question “do black people wash their hair?”
In this article, we will be discussing all issues regarding black hair and how to take proper care of it. Including a history of black hair myths.
Taking care of Afro hair is not difficult but requires a good understanding of what works and what is damaging to afro hair. This means that the way in which we take care of our hair is different.
A history of black hair myths
To answer the question do black people wash their hair, we have to first take a look at some of the myths and history surrounding black hair today.
The first is that natural hair is “dirty”. The second is about the extent to which natural hair grows hence the obsession with hair length, extensions, and dreadlocks.
Many black women and men who wear weaves and relax their hair will explain their choice by either saying that their natural hair is “unmanageable” or that natural hair is “dirty”. This is one of the most enduring stereotypes about black hair.
People will even cite the “anecdotal” evidence that Bob Marley’s dreads had 47 different types of lice when he died.
But these are urban legends of the worst kind because they perpetuate the stereotype that only black hair attracts lice, and other vermin, which is scientifically untrue.
Historically, the myth comes from images of the pejoratively named “fuzzy-wuzzy” that British soldiers who were fighting Sudanese insurgents in the Mahdist War sent home.
This war, from 1881-to 1899, popularised the image of the wild Afros that people now imagine when they think of black hair.
But these images are misleading for the simple reason that they suggest these Sudanese soldiers did not “dress” their hair or wash it.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Across the African continent, techniques for dressing hair were as varied as the hairstyles that they produced.
The “Afro” therefore is not some kind of standard African hairstyle. It is just one of several hundred ways of growing and maintaining curly hair.
So when a black person decides to “dread” or lock their hair, they neither need nor keep “dirt” in it to make it lock. Our hair (as does all hair) locks naturally when it is left uncombed or un-brushed.
The association of locks with dirt partly comes from the Caribbean where Rastafarianism emerged as a subculture. However, even in this instance, the misconception is that dreadlocks equal Rastafarianism.
The reality is that the Rastas got their locks from Africa. To be exact, matted African hair was transported to the Caribbean by images of Ethiopian soldiers who were fighting the Italian invasion which began in 1935.
These fighters vowed using the example of Samson in the bible that they would not cut their hair until their country and emperor Ras Tafari Makonnnen (aka Haile Selassie) were liberated and the emperor returned from exile.
The myths about how long black hair can or should be are as legion as the myths that natural hair is “dirty”. The misconception partly comes out of the concept of measurement.
Natural African hair is curly and so to measure it, one would have to stretch out the coils. This is why limiting the growth of the hair by the width of cornrows or length of strands doesn’t make sense at all.
One black person’s coiffure will look very short because of “shrinkage” and another black person’s locks will look very long because of a loose coil.
The notion that long black hair is or should be cut or trimmed to an “acceptable” length is ignorance masquerading as “neatness”. No two black people’s hair “grows out” the same.
Because when it comes to black hair, “common sense” is the least reliable tool for decision-making, since even black people are constantly changing their minds about what they want to do with their hair.
As an expression of our culture, black hair is as malleable and plastic as our ideas about it. To attempt to fix such expressions in rules and regulations is to deny black people what the Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Diop called our “Promethean consciousness”.
As black people, our hair is an expression of the infinite possibilities that emanate from this creative and daring consciousness.
The Texture of Black hair
The texture of black hair is a huge determinant of how you should take care of afro hair. You can discuss the topic of do black people wash their hair without bringing into context the texture of black hair.
We’ve all heard that black hair, in general, is drier than other hair, but why? This is mostly because of the curls in our hair.
The natural oils that are in everyone’s scalps travel down straight hair much more easily than curly hair. This alone makes black hair more dry and subject to breakage/loss. The natural oil just doesn’t get to most of our hair.
There Is nothing that can be done about this since the curliness of our hair is determined by the bulb shape of the hair follicle, which is determined genetically. Hooked bulbs cause curly hair and round bulbs cause straight hair.
How Often Black Hair should be Washed
Hopefully, this part of the article helps you answer the question “do black people wash their hair”. We will be discussing how often you should wash your hair and why.
Due to the unique nature of black hair, we must be more conscious of the drying effects of most shampoos.
Shampoos tend to contain chemicals that strip the existing oils off of your hair, which may be fine for straight hair, but can be overly damaging to curly hair, which doesn’t replace the oils as easily.
While you’ll need to take into account how curly your hair is, generally washing afro hair 1 – 2 times a week with a good shampoo achieves the desired cleaning effect without overly drying out our hair. It is also ok to condition hair daily.
With this knowledge and these tips, you should be set to get the look you want without any trouble.
Tips For Daily Care of Black Hair
Unique in appearance and structure, African American hair is especially fragile and prone to injury and damage. More than half of African American women will cite thinning hair or hair loss as their top hair concern.
Fortunately, there is a lot African Americans can do to help minimize damage and keep their hair beautiful.
To help African Americans keep their hair healthy, dermatologists recommend the following tips:
Wash hair once a week or every other week; This will help prevent the build-up of hair care products, which can be drying to the hair.
Use conditioner; Use conditioner every time you wash your hair. Be sure to coat the ends of the hair with conditioner, as the ends are the oldest and most fragile part of your hair.
Use a hot oil treatment twice a month; This adds additional moisture and elasticity to your hair.
Use a heat-protecting product before styling; Adding this to wet hair before styling will help minimize heat damage.
Use caution with relaxers; To minimize hair damage, always go to a professional hairstylist to ensure that the relaxer is applied safely.
Touch-ups should only be done every two to three months and only to newly grown hair. Never apply a relaxer to hair that has already been relaxed.
Use ceramic combs or irons to press hair; If you would like to press or thermally straighten your hair, use a ceramic comb or iron and only do so once a week.
Use a straightening device with a dial to ensure the device is not too hot. Use the lowest possible temperature setting that gives you the style you want. A higher temperature may be necessary for thicker, coarser hair.
Make sure braids, cornrows or weaves are not too tight. If it hurts while your hair is being styled, ask the stylist to stop and redo it. Pain equals damage.
See a board-certified dermatologist if you notice any changes in the texture or appearance of your hair. Even the slightest bit of noticeable thinning can be the start of hair loss. The earlier hair loss is diagnosed, the more effectively it can be treated.
Take Care of Your Ends
Taking care of your ends is very important when you’re transitioning. Dellinger gave us a three-step plan to protect your ends.
- Trim Your Ends – Dellinger told us, “Obviously [trimming your ends] will change your bottom line at the end of the year, but a strong baseline will help you retain growth. Weak ends can accelerate breakage. See a professional get a custom recommendation for how much to trim, but generally, healthy hair can maintain a routine of trimming roughly 3/4 inch, every 4 months, or more for damaged hair in need of repair.”
- Oil Your Ends – “Protective oils can serve as a barrier around the hair shaft. This provides a layer of protection from environmental and tactical styling damage and preserves previously moisturized strands. Be sure to oil the ends after applying a hydrating moisturizer to your strands,” says Dillinger.
- Conceal Your Ends – And finally, she recommends, “Cover those ends in a basic protective style. The key is for the ends to be concealed, not revealed. Hide, put them away, and opt to wear these types of styles more often than not.”
To conclude, the topic of discussion in this article on “do black people wash their hair ” is a very sensitive one. That’s the reason for this article to address all issues regarding black hair and to educate you on how you should take care of your hair.