Tag Archives: natural hair

My New Favorite Shampoo

Many people talk of the benefits of coconut oil for hair & body. There’s even a pretty cool pin that you can buy to celebrate your love for the wonder oil. I, myself, have been a big fan for a while now but my love for coconut oil has recently been cemented in one of my latest discoveries.

Not only do I love coconut oil but I also have pretty sensitive skin. My scalp is even worse. I try a lot of products and keep in mind how both my hair and scalp react to different ingredients and formulations. Needless to say, finding a shampoo that works well for both has always been a bit of a challenge.

Then I stumbled upon Shea Moisture’s 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Shampoo. It’s a gem.

For those of you who seek healthy, organic products, I have a feeling that you will feel as strongly about this shampoo as I do. It has all the things that you need, without the things that you don’t. It gives you a great amount of slip to help detangle dense, afro-textured hair like mine and frees itself of perfumes and scents that only serve to make you smell “good”. I find that those products are often scalp irritants, which is why this shampoo is the business.

It’s creamy and luxurious and soothing at the same time. It smells faintly of coconut and it just feels naturally created.  I think it is, by far, one of the best products I’ve ever tried from Shea Moisture and if you search through the reviews of this site, you know how many things I’ve tried (and mostly loved).  This is a holy grail product, bar none.

The only reservation I have about this product is one built on circumstance, it’s hard to find in store. None of my local stores carry it, which means that I have to order it online or hunt around the city to find it. It’s a new product, and arguably less popular, than the others. But, as more people try it I presume they will end up with the same conclusion as I have, it’s one of the best shampoos out there.

Give it a shot!

NaturallyCurly Book ‘The Curl Revolution’ Hits Shelves

NaturallyCurly is the largest site dedicated to caring for, and loving your naturally curly hair. On October 3, Naturally Curly will be releasing The Curl Revolution: Inspiring Stories and
Practical Advice from the NaturallyCurly Community!

This book will offer practical advice, hope and inspiration for curly girls and guys. It promises to be one of the coolest and informative books about textured hair out there.  It’s no surprise as NaturallyCurly has long been an advocate for advancing public perception of naturally curly, kinky, and coily hair.  In my opinion, this book release marks a significant time in our history and progress with mainstream acceptance of textured hair.

I was fortunate enough to take part in the book as one of their models and community members and I am incredibly excited to be a part of it. When I first started growing out my hair I was nervous and incredibly confused about what to do and what products to use. NaturallyCurly was THE site that helped me get my act together and understand my hair.  I’m excited that this book will offer another opportunity to learn about different hair textures and care practices.

Here’s a sneak peek of my photo shoot for The Curl Revolution!

You can pre-order The Curl Revolution at Shop.NaturallyCurly.com. I can’t wait to finally see the book in print and I hope that you all enjoy it!

First Look: Imperial Barber Grade Products Pt. 1

Created by LA Master Barbers Pedro Zermeno & Scott Serrata Imperial Barber is a grooming brand that prides itself on creating high quality products that are all 100% American made.  With extensive experience in LA and NYC, the founders have created an impressive line of products that can meet just about any gent’s needs. I recently had the chance to try out Imperial Barber’s Travel Assortment and am sharing some thoughts on some of the products today.

Imperial Travel Assortment ($45)

Gel Pomade: This,  by far, is my favorite product of the bunch. It’s a great styling product for summer and I imagine would work well on a a variety of hair types looking for some control and increased definition. It worked well on my hair given it’s tacky, yet spreadable consistency.

Freeform Cream: Out of the products that I’ve tried so far, Imperial’s Freeform Cream comes up second for me. It’s a lightweight, water-based, styling cream which works well for a more natural look. It worked well on my afro-textured creating a lot of softness. For guys going for a more natural look and feel, this one is a great bet.

Classic Pomade: Non-oil based pomades work out just fine for my hair but aren’t necessarily my favorite. This is, in large part, that afro-textured hair can look duller due to its structure. The Classic Pomade provides great control as it has strong hold so fly-aways or frizzy hairs are less present when using this one. It’s particularly good for really humid days or if you’re prone to looking extra frizzy.

Imperial was kind enough to send along three other products to sample in their Travel Assortment pack but I haven’t had the chance to dive into them just yet. Keep an eye out for my reviews on Blacktop Pomade, Fiber Pomade and Matte Pomade Paste.

You can learn more about the Travel Assortment in the Imperial Barber shop.

Which product seems like it would be a good fit for your hair?

 

The Best Way I Beat “Frizzy” Hair

We are officially in the middle of a heat wave here in NYC, which means it’s super hot and SO HUMID. We do a lot of walking around these parts and in-between that frequently go underground to catch the subway. Needless to say, it’s no bueno.

And obviously, my hair also suffers in the process.

While naturally curly and kinky hair is prone to frizz, that doesn’t mean that a little extra control can’t be helpful on days like these. In the middle of hot, humid summers I often rely more on gel (as opposed to creams or puddings like in the cooler months) to help manage my mane. Even though it’s bit shorter now (hello, summer cut!), it’s still good to have a little extra control to make sure my mini fro holds up during the day. The last thing I need is to be looking unintentionally frizzy and uncontrolled when that’s not the look I’m going for on that day.

Lately, I’ve rekindled my love affair with Kinky-Curly Curling Custard and even though it’s costly, I’m reminded why it’s one of my holy grail products. It’s perfect for summer and offers up natural ingredients that provide control, moisture and a lot of nourishment. Recently, I’ve also been using Giovanni LA Natural Styling Gel. It’s not too shabby either. Otherwise, I always seem to have Old Spice products on deck so their Swagger Gel works pretty well too.

Hopefully, between these three I can keep my hair looking its best during this heat wave.

What are your favorite go-to products for dealing with humidity and heat?

Guide To Growing A Beard: Realities and Myths

Guest post submitted by Giv of malegroomings.com.

When dealing with beard health, there are a lot of things that most guys don’t know. This guide with help you get familiar with all the basics you need to know about growing a lush and hygienic beard.

If you’re a beginner looking to live the dream of owning a beard that makes other men envious, follow the guidelines below.

Growing and Styling

Many make growing and styling a beard look like it’s a very demanding and complicated process, which in reality, it isn’t. Therefore, I’ll cut right to the chase and simplify it for you.

Put away the razor

As simple as it may sound, you will just have to let your beard hair go wild. If you’re a beginner growing a beard, you may have thought that there’s a very specific process you will need to follow. However, what you may have heard are nothing but just myths – ones that we will get to later in this guide. So forget everything, and just know that the best thing you can do to grow a beard is to just put away the razor and be patient.

Patience is going to be the key here, which is also the reason many give up on their beard-growing journey quickly. You may come across some challenges and rough phases, but patience, determination, and a good deal of knowledge about the basics of growing a beard will easily help you move past those early hurdles.

Know your skin

Something that most men growing a beard end up overlooking is their skin type. Although you may think it’s all about your beard hair, the skin underneath also plays a crucial role.

It’s important to know your skin type – whether dry, oily or sensitive. Knowing your skin type may help you figure out the beard type and styling options you will have.

Maintain the moisture

The journey to a full beard that you can be proud of can quickly turn from fun and exciting to a real struggle if you fail to keep your skin moisturized. Moisturizing your skin also goes a long way in helping prevent a skin disaster in case you suddenly, and abruptly stop (or have to stop) growing your beard.

When it comes to daily moisturizing, using a good, natural beard oil and coconut oil is something your skin will love. Besides providing your skin with the right amount of moisture, these moisturizing products  also come with all the nutrients to grow a healthy beard. They are also natural and smell great!

Go for your preferred shape and type

When you finally manage to fight all the obstacles and keep growing your beard for a month or so, you will want to shape it up. Of course, this is more about styling and your personal preferences than anything else.

Some guys go for a sharp shape, while others like to go for a more natural look. Some go for a look with stubble, while other men go for a much longer beard. The choice is clearly yours, and if you’re not sure, take a look at a beard style chart to see which one resonates with you.

When you’ve reached that shaping point, you should be sure of what type of beard you want, and get to styling it as soon as you have the length and fullness.

You can maintain your beard by using a solid and reliable beard trimmer. Your beard will become accustomed to the way your trimmer shaves, so be sure to choose one that is well-made and lasts long. It will save you money and time in the future.

Overcoming the obstacles

Oh, the obstacles! They are the most annoying, yet the most beautiful part of the beard journey.  They are annoying when you encounter them for the first time, but beautiful when you overcome those obstacles and grow a beard you can’t stop looking at. The challenges make you realize the value of a healthy, well-groomed beard, which also prevents you from taking it for granted.

However, the bottom line is that there’s no gain without pain. You WILL face at least some of these issues.  You’ve been warned!

With that said, though, let us take a look at a few of the most common challenges and how to deal with them.

Itchiness

Itchiness is precisely what makes many men reach for their razor, even before they are a month into their dream beard journey. And make no mistake, the itchiness is indeed very real.

However, you can get rid of it to a great extent with the right amount of moisturizing and shampooing. Make sure you go for natural products (and not the ones loaded with chemicals that may make your itchiness worse – especially if you have sensitive skin) for daily moisturizing. Your facial skin will soon make peace with your otherwise dominating beard.

Untidiness

Yes, we did say you just need to let your beard grow, but you will need occasional trimming at some point.

You can simply trim your neckline, mustache lips and upper cheeks to regain your neat look. However, if you’re going for an all-natural beard, you won’t be able to do this and would have to live with a slightly wild beard for a little while.

Dryness

Dryness is not as common as the problems mentioned above, but is usually a result of bad choice of products. If you’re going with our suggestion and only sticking to natural products, you will likely not see any serious signs of dryness..

However, if you do experience dryness for some reason, you may want to stop using any products that contain chemicals and replace them with all-natural ones. If dryness persists, use natural oils in your beard hair about once a week. This should be enough to get rid of the dryness.

And Don’t Fall for These  Beard Myths!

As mentioned at the start of this article, there are many myths about growing a beard that are often presented as facts. If you’re a beginner, it may be hard to avoid them as society will render you foolish by making you believe these inaccurate statements.

Here are a few of these common myths. Let’s clear them up with reality instead.

Myth #1: Beards are itchy

Reality: Most men would only feel beard itch within the first month of growing a beard, UNLESS they are not taking good care of their beard. After that, even when you trim you should not feel any itchiness. With that said, you should be moisturizing your facial mane with a beard oil daily to achieve best results.

Myth #2: Shaving makes your beard grow faster

Reality: This is a very petty myth to be honest. Why would you shave when you’re actually trying to “grow” your beard. It just does not make any sense at all, right? Yet, this one is pretty popular.

If you shave your beard while growing it, you will only be setting yourself back. The actual outcome you will experience is a delay in achieving the results you want. If you want your beard to grow, just wait.

Myth #3: Your beard should get thick in 2 to 3 weeks

Reality: For most men, it’s going to take at least 1 to 3 months to have a complete beard that they are proud of. Every guy is different, so the timeline can shift according to your genetics.

What are some of your greatest beard challenges? Weigh in on the comment section below!

The Black Hair Alphabet with BlkWmnAnimator Deborah Anderson

Representation in all fields is important as we think about our future and how we inspire those who come after us. This is in part, what is so great about Deborah Anderson of BlkWmnAnimator.

Recently, I learned that Deborah was working on a special graphic project that featured natural hair. When I reached out to her about the impetus to start the project Deborah said:

The original premise came from the fact that a lot of people who play video games, namely guys, are aggravated by lack of representation in hairstyles when making avatars. It’s always dreads or an afro, maybe a low-cut. This is the beginning of my journey in figuring out black hair in a 3D space.

And with that, the natural hair alphabet came to life. Check it out below!
Click image to enlarge.

 

To see Deborah’s natural hair alphabet in all its glory, you can visit her website at blkwmnanimator.com. You can also follow all of Deborah’s professional pursuits in bringing animation to the masses on her Facebook page at @BlkWmnAnimator.

How to Quickly Grow Your Hair ft. Winstonee

As I mentioned in my previous post, my hair tends to grow VERY quickly but I realize that many folks have the opposite problem. Sometimes your hair won’t go quickly enough! Well, you’re in luck as I’ve some tips to share with you courtesy of YouTube personality Winstonee.

In the clip below you’ll gain the inside scoop from Winstonee on what techniques he uses to help grow his hair. And if you look at his other videos, you’ll see the proof in his mane.

Some of the tips you may be familiar with, while others may be new to you. The important thing to remember is that for most of us, it’s all about trial and error. Not everything is going to work for everyone. For instance, Winstonee talks about dry-detangling, which I personally find horrible. Give me a ton of conditioner on wet hair and finger detangling any day. But again, to each his own. Listen to your hair and learn what works for you. These steps, however, are a great starting point. And there’s some good hair education in there as well.

Enjoy and happy growing!

 

Fro Frustrations: Say That 5 Times Fast

MANE MAN is all about celebrating grooming and how grooming can be a great way for us to take of ourselves. Obviously, I spend a lot of time writing about all the products I get to try.  But today, I need to rant.

MY. HAIR. WON’T. STOP. GROWING.

And no, this isn’t a humble brag.  Seriously. I know that many of you are hoping and trying for growth. But, I’m annoyed (at the moment) that my hair grows so quickly.

Here’s what’s annoying about that…I got a haircut just a few weeks go. It was a sizable chop but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was a “big chop”. As always, I felt a bit uncomfortable the first few days after as I thought it was a little too short. Fast forward to a few weeks later and it feels too big/too long already. WHY!?

This is annoying because, for me, getting a haircut is annoying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not my stylist at all. She’s great. But, hair cuts take so much time. First, I have to be mindful enough to schedule the appointment. And with my schedule, things tend to be all over the place and varied. By the time I take a moment to sit down and think about life, I often find that I’ve forgotten to do something that is pretty essential. The haircut, by default, gets pushed back.

Then, there is the actual appointment itself. I can’t go in and be out in 20 minutes. I wish I could. It takes that long just to pick out my hair for the cut itself.  Then, I’m in the chair…usually feeling pretty warm (because I ALWAYS am) and thus, near to falling asleep in the chair. I feel a little rude because I don’t talk more, but then the silence also makes me comfortable and sleepy. I know, so many non-problem, problems.

I realize this is not a real problem to have. I’m fortunate to have thick hair that grows quickly. I realize that my hair is pretty healthy.

But, can’t it just slow down a little bit?

 

What are your fro frustrations or biggest hair annoyances? Let’s continue the conversation in the comment section below.

How to Have Softer, Shinier Hair without Salon Products

by Guest contributor Sally Wong

Is there anything more appealing than a thick, full head of silky smooth, shiny hair? Whatever way you choose to style your hair, whether you wear it pulled back or let your curly locks free, it always looks better when it’s frizz-free and shiny! Everyone knows that, but did you know why your hair can look dull and frizzy?

When you know the cause of the problem, it’s much easier to both treat and prevent. When your hair is healthy, it has an outer layer that contains natural oils that make it shiny and silky. When damage is done to that layer, it leaves your hair looking dry, dull, and unhealthy.

Several things can cause damage. Illness, not using an adequate conditioner, using harsh hair products, staying in the sun for way too long, nutritional deficiencies, high amounts of stress, frequent hair dying, high mineral content in your water, age, chlorine in pools, age, and using heating tools such as blow dryers, to name a few. Coily or kinky hair naturally appears duller due to light’s reaction to naturally raised hair cuticles but that can be remedied with the tips below.

Keeping your hair looking and feeling soft, shiny, and healthy takes a bit of effort – but it’s all well worth it! The only way to get great hair is to take care of it properly.

But salon products can actually be harmful to your hair if you use them for too long.

That’s why I have compiled a list of ways to get softer, shinier hair without salon products.

1 – Essential Oils

People have used essential oils for everything from medicinal rubs to beauty tricks. They’re still a very popular go-to for things like clear skin and hair health. There are a multitude of oils out there, but I will list out a few that are absolutely amazing for softness and shine!

  • Almond oil is a great moisturize for the scalp and hair.

  • Chamomile oil will give you unbeatable softness and shine.

  • Jojoba oil will replenish your hair and its glory by both stimulating your scalp and adding nutrients.

  • Lavender oil acts as a deep conditioner, making it ultra shiny.

2 – Unrefined, Organic Coconut Oil

Though oiling your hair may seem strange, it is crucial in providing nourishment to your hair. This will add moisture to dry, damaged hair.

Warm the coconut oil, then apply it to your hair, from root to tips. Massage your head and hair to ensure that it has an even application, then put on a towel or shower cap. After 30 minutes, rinse it out of your hair, then shampoo and condition as you normally would.

3 – Apple Cider Vinegar

Shockingly, this is a fantastic hair conditioner. Despite its brackish taste, it’s an excellent moisturizer and will make your hair shiny and soft. It also serves to combat dandruff and itchy scalp, as well as remove residue from your hair.

Use equal parts water and apple cider vinegar until you get the amount you need. Shampoo your hair, then pour the cider mixture onto your hair and work it into your scalp. Let it sit for a while, then rinse it out of your hair with cold water.

4 – Honey

Honey is magic to your hair. It’s a natural humectant, which pulls moisture into your hair and locks it in. This ensures that your hair gets and stays shiny and soft.

Use this awesome concoction once weekly for amazing results! To make it, all you have to do is mix two cups of warm water with two tablespoons of honey. Put it in a spray bottle and spray your hair down after shampooing. Slowly and thoroughly work the mixture over your hair and into your scalp for 15 minutes. Be sure to rinse it out with warm water.

5 – Avocado

Whether your hair is almost perfect or in dire need of some TLC, avocados are a great go-to for beautiful, luxurious hair. It is especially good for treating damaged, dry hair. It’s full of nutrients and deeply moisturizing.

Simply mix two tablespoons worth of extra virgin olive oil with a large, ripe avocado, then apply it to your damp hair. Work it from roots to tips, then put on your shower cap. Rinse and shampoo your hair after about 30 minutes!

Bonus Tips:

  • Avoid brushing wet hair (but combing wet hair while conditioning works well for curly/natural hair types).
  • Try to let your hair dry naturally.
  • Cut off split ends as they come up.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Drink a gallon of water a day.

 

About the author: Sally is a manual therapist who practices both Tai Chi and Yoga and believes strongly in the power of essential oils. She tries to visit China at least twice a year to see her grandmother, who teaches her something new about natural healing every visit. Follow her at ThinkOily.com.

8 Reasons You Want to Touch Black Women’s Hair – And Why They Mean You Shouldn’t

Originally published on Everyday Feminism. Reposted with author’s (Maisha Z. Johnson) permission.

There are a million ways to compliment a Black woman.

You could tell me I look radiant. Say you like my lipstick – it’s hard to find the right shade. Tell me you appreciate how my mind works.

I’m not just fishing for compliments here. I’m giving you options to avoid the dreaded “compliment” of touching my hair.

I’m sure you’ve come across the warning not to touch Black women’s hair before. But do you really understand why it’s so important to keep your hands out of our tresses?

This is a super common racial microaggression, which is a subtle form of racism often done by someone who doesn’t mean to be racist. I’ve had lots of people (usually white people) touch my hair, and in most cases, the touch came with a well-meaning compliment.

But you probably don’t know what the temptation to touch Black women’s hair means in US society – or about the impact if you follow your urge.

The objectification of Black bodies has been part of US culture since slavery, and it’s still going strong as one of our everyday struggles. This behavior affects all Black folks, but for this piece, I’m focusing on racialized sexism against women.

But wait – when you touch Black women’s hair, you don’t have racist or sexist intentions. So how does this relate to racism or sexism?

The answer comes down to the one of our core feminist values, consent – respecting everyone’s agency over their own bodies, including their hair. Having our hair touched is just one of the ways Black women are often denied this agency in our society.

Let’s go through the most common reasons I’ve heard for touching my hair, and how they relate to patriarchal white supremacy.

1. You’re Curious

I went to a writing retreat where a woman was insatiably curious about how my hair feels. She’d never been around hair like mine before, and she stared until I thought her eyes would bulge out of her head.

I finally gave in to letting her touch it before the poor woman had a medical emergency.

She asked the same questions every curious white person asks: “Is it real? How do you get it like that? How do you wash it?”

I understand the curiosity. But do you know why you’re so curious? It’s because the texture of my 4C hair is often invisible in mainstream society.

Eurocentric beauty standards mean that white women are a lot more common in the media than Black women. The Black women who are visible tend to have chemically straightened hair. Even I struggle to find care tips for and images of my hair type. So it makes sense that you haven’t come across those, and I appreciate that you want to correct your lack of information.

But unlike the white people who don’t notice how unusual my hair seems until they feel the urge to touch it, I notice the invisibility of my hair type all the time.

And that invisibility sends the constant message that my hair is unappealing – which is just one of many media messages about Black women’s inferiority. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when popular images of “beauty” don’t look like you.

So if you really want to learn about our hair, find information through research instead of reminding a Black woman that her beauty is rarely celebrated.

If you know a Black woman well, you could respectfully ask how she’d feel about answering questions. Some women don’t mind, but you’re not entitled to her answers. The expectation to educate people can get tiring, so lots of Black women just don’t feel like talking about it anymore.

2. You Find My Hair Fascinating

Sometimes my hair evokes more than curiosity – it fills people, like the woman at my residency, with wonder. Here’s how being fascinating can be a bad thing.

Black women are often “othered” in US society – like being treated as if we don’t exist in the media. Our hair is othered with insults and misunderstandings like the interpretation of braids on Black people as “gang affiliations.

Even when the othering seems “positive,” it doesn’t feel good. It disrupts our efforts to simply exist without being treated like we’re abnormal. At the writing retreat, for instance, I’d hoped for quiet introspection.

Instead, I had a stranger’s hands in my hair. And “compliments” that essentially said, “Wow, you’re different!” And pressure to answer questions that basically covered why I’m so strange.

It was a little dehumanizing, even though she didn’t mean it to be.

When you rarely see Black women in the media, and even “positive” images objectify us, you’re influenced to treat Black women as objects. That’s not a good thing, even if we’re fascinating objects.

My hair is one of the ways I have control over my own image – it’s not just some anomaly for people to touch. Let me reclaim my own beauty and exist without being exotified.

3. You Want to Compliment Me

You may think this is my favorite reason. Who wouldn’t want a compliment?

This is tough, because I appreciate the good intentions – and then I feel bad for rejecting your compliment. Let me explain now so I don’t have to see your disappointment as you realize this is the wrong way to compliment me.

Say you’re at a party and I arrive with my afro combed out, shimmering, and on point. I wouldn’t mind at all if you say how great my hair looks. But then you reach out, telling me my hair is so beautiful and you’d give anything to run your fingers through it – and I have to stop you right there.

You’re shifting from a kind compliment into fascination territory. It’s not flattering to be exotified like some strange creature – even if you mean it in a “good” way.

Besides, if my hair’s looking good, don’t mess it up! I didn’t put time into it just to go around with a dent the shape of your hand.

Imagine a different scenario. You’ve crafted a beautiful, hand-made hat, which you’re proudly wearing at the party. I walk up, eyes wide with fascination, and say, “I like your hat.”

Then, before you can say “thank you,” I reach out and smash it with my palm.

Wouldn’t that be frustrating? Wouldn’t it be even more frustrating if you got upset and I replied, “You should appreciate it! It’s a compliment”?

That’s just rude. So please, respect Black women and stick to verbal compliments about our hair.

4. You Think It’s Not a Big Deal

Touching my hair is relatively harmless compared to other ways Black women are dehumanized, so I could try to “get over it.” But first, let’s be clear about what I’m “getting over.”

There’s the history of white people’s ownership of Black bodies. The obvious example is slavery, when Black folks were considered property, not people, by law. They had no power over their own bodies – which included being raped by slave owners.

That’s horrendous enough, but there are plenty more examples throughout history. Like the fact that Black people in the mid-1850s were considered such a deviation from the “norm” that they were exhibited in zoos and freak shows.

One woman, Saartjie Baartman, was displayed in a cage, mocked, and gawked at. Even after her death, scientists dissected her body to investigate the difference between the “savage” (Black) woman and the “civilized” (white) woman. Then her genitals and brain were put back on display until 1985.

“Jet-black and woolly was her hair,” a Victorian poet wrote.

Saartjie Baartman wasn’t buried until 2002. Amid racial tensions, her burial site in South Africa was recently defaced.

This is our history as Black women, and it hasn’t just stayed in the past.

White stars like Miley Cyrus and Amy Schumer liberate themselves by using Black women as props. Meanwhile, Black women experience daily microaggressions – including other degrading phrases meant to be compliments, everything from “You’re pretty for a Black girl” to “You’re not like other Black people.”

And while none of these acts alone may seem like a big deal, they don’t happen in a vacuum. They combine to give Black women the constant feeling that our bodies are always up for objectification, judgment, and othering.

By the time you take the seemingly simple action of touching my hair – no matter how well-meaning you are – I’m tired of being an object. It’s not a big deal to you, but it may just be the last straw for me.

5. You Wouldn’t Be Offended If Someone Touched Your Hair

If you treat others like you’d want to be treated, you should respect Black women’s boundaries like you’d want yours respected – even if their boundaries are different from yours.

I have a white friend who once asked me to put her hair in a french braid. She didn’t mind my touch, even though I was terrible at braiding it, because for her, it’s “just hair.” But when she wanted to switch roles and braid my hair, I stopped her.

Because for me and many other Black women, it’s more than “just hair” – it’s a vital source of empowerment.

For many of us, natural hair is a political statement of embracing our beauty instead of the idea that we have to change to be acceptable.

As a result, we’re called “ugly,” discriminated against in the job market, and profiled as criminals. We’ve been told since we were children, often from the women in our families, that something was wrong with our hair, and that the world wouldn’t accept it as is.

So owning and loving our hair is a revolutionary act of reclaiming our worth. It’s an integral part of our cultural experience. A white person touching our hair carries a different context than when you, as a white person whose humanity is affirmed far more often, have someone touch your hair.

This applies to all kinds of situations. People of different races have social conditions affecting them in unique ways. Usually, the question of “Would a white person be offended?” is not an accurate measure of whether or not something is harmful for Black folks.

6. You Have No Idea How Often We Have to Deal With This

Black women deal with people touching our hair a lot. Now you know. Okay, there’s more to it than that: Black women deal with people touching our hair a hell of a lot.

If you approach a Black woman saying “I just have to feel your hair,” it’s pretty safe to assume this isn’t the first time she’s heard that.

Everyone who asks me if they can touch follows a long line of people othering me – including strangers who touch my hair without asking. The psychological impact of having people constantly feel entitled my personal space has worn me down.

If you’re not a Black woman, and you’re doubting that this happens so frequently, consider that…well, that you’re not a Black woman, so you’ve never walked in my shoes, or under my afro.

Do me a favor and take my word for it – or find the many other Black women speaking up and writing about this for more confirmation. Then find some empathy for those of us who so often have our boundaries violated.

7. You Know Someone Else Who Didn’t Mind

Do you know a Black woman who doesn’t mind when people touch her hair? So do I! We all have different preferences, and I don’t claim to be the authority on all Black women’s boundaries.

Even my preferences vary. For instance, I’ve let curious children feel my hair because – unlike adults who should know better – they don’t understand why I wouldn’t want them to. Many Black women’s boundaries include no hair touching, but that’s not even the whole point of why you should keep your hands to yourself.

The point is that everyone deserves to have their personal space respected. As feminists, respect for consent is one of our fundamental values. That should include not assuming that a Black woman consents to touch, even if another woman didn’t mind.

What if you ask for permission? We’re used to consent meaning asking first, and proceeding if you get a “yes.”

But just like sexual consent includes things like body language and inebriation status, getting consent to touch a Black woman’s hair includes more than just asking. You also have to consider the broader context. Even the fact that you’re curious points to a problem. It means you’ve internalized society’s othering of Black women – and you should work on that before you satisfy your curiosity.

There might be situations when Black women don’t mind touching. But there are also situations like that writing retreat, when I let the woman objectify me because I wanted to avoid any issues. And times when the person who wants to touch me is in a position of power, like an employer – and there’s a lot of pressure to be “nice enough” to let them touch.

So it’s better to err on the side of keeping your hands to yourself – even if you’d give the courtesy of asking before touching.

8. You’re Offended By the Idea of Not Being Able to Touch My Hair

Still think it’s no biggie to ask? Let’s talk about those “issues” that might come up if I say “no.”

Whenever I write about how white people can avoid being oppressive, some white people inevitably object to being told what they “can and can’t do.” You don’t want your freedom limited, but in many cases, this reaction isn’t about freedom. It’s about entitlement.

Touching my hair is the perfect example.

It’s an act that invades my personal space, and if I don’t want that – even if you don’t understand why I don’t – you should respect my choice. I mean, you’re trying to pet me. Even my cat sets her boundaries when she doesn’t want to be petted, so shouldn’t I, as a human being, have my boundaries respected, too?

As a woman, I’m subject to rape culture that says men are entitled to my body. As a Black woman, I’m under even more pressure to be available for other people to touch.

I’ve been called “uptight,” “angry,” and “overreacting,” for saying “no” to having my hair touched. Hopefully you’d never do such a thing. But if you take it personally when a Black woman doesn’t let you touch her hair, it’s time to let the defensiveness go.

Having people feel entitled to our personal space at all times puts us in a vulnerable position. We’re pressured to let you touch us, and then we’re demonized for asserting our boundaries.

So don’t act offended if a Black woman turns down your request to touch her hair – you really have nothing to be offended about.

***

Those are most of the reasons I’ve heard for wanting to touch my hair. Did you catch all the good reasons not to?

With this simple act of self-control, you can help change culture around, you including:

  • Helping Black women feel safer by respecting our personal space.
  • Preserving Black women’s fly hairstyles.
  • Being a more supportive ally.
  • Creating consent culture by respecting Black women’s boundaries.
  • Resisting the influence of white supremacy’s othering of Black bodies.

These goals are worth prioritizing before your curiosity. Next time you’d like to touch a Black woman’s hair, remember how your reasons, no matter how well-meaning, support white supremacy.

And if you see me on the street, feel free to let the compliments flow – I’ll be happy to accept them without your hands in my hair.

 

Maisha Z. Johnson is the Digital Content Associate and Staff Writer of Everyday Feminism. You can find her writing at the intersections and shamelessly indulging in her obsession with pop culture around the web. Maisha’s past work includes Community United Against Violence (CUAV), the nation’s oldest LGBTQ anti-violence organization, and Fired Up!, a program of California Coalition for Women Prisoners. Through her own project, Inkblot ArtsMaisha taps into the creative arts and digital media to amplify the voices of those often silenced. Like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @mzjwords.