Black hair. Curly hair. Kinky hair. African-American hair. Natural hair. Textured hair. This hair type comes with various descriptors, several of which, believe it or not, could provide a cultural history lesson (more on that later). Textured hair also has a reputation for being difficult, i.e. prone to breakage, excessively dry, and time-consuming to style.
This strikes fear in some mamas’ hearts when they welcome home a sweetie who has textured hair. Maybe they are like me, an adoptive mama. Maybe they’ve married into a curly-haired family. Maybe they are a blended family. Maybe you are a mama who feels she can’t keep up with her own hair regimen, so how in the heck is she supposed to add another head of hair to the mix.
No matter the scenario, to the mama who finds herself nervous and maybe a little (or a lot!) confused about caring for textured hair . . . I have good news: It is hair. Plain and simple. It’s hair. It’s not grass or hay or spaghetti or silly string. It’s hair. You can rest at ease knowing that you are about to embark on caring for hair; I’m betting you already know more than you think you do.
And that mindset is exactly where you need to start. Textured hair isn’t special hair, or alien hair, or abnormal hair. It is just hair . . . like every other human has. Might it be different than the hair on your head? Maybe. But so is nearly every other head of hair walking around: curly, straight, all the in-betweens, shiny, long, short, dry, combo, oily, red, brown, black, blonde. Hair comes in all shapes and sizes and waves. One type is not better than another.
A Tale of Two Heads
Case and point: Both of my daughters are dark-skinned beauties with curly locks, but those curls could not be more different. One girl has dark brown hair with a looser curl pattern, while my other cutie has black hair with a tighter curl pattern. One holds protective styles like a champ; the other needs to “breathe” more often. One needs a wash every 10 days; I swear the other could go three weeks.
Thus, let me take a minute to debunk a common myth and belief: Textured hair is all the same. This is oh-so not true. In fact, the complete opposite is true. You’ll find tons of info about curl patterns, porosity levels, and density. (Why yes, I will devote an entire blog post to this topic. Stay tuned!)
So, why do these stereotypes surround textured hair? “All the same” and “difficult” and “nappy” have a history that’s seeped in the history of the African-American story. Don’t worry, this isn’t the part of my article where I switch to research paper mode and provide a 20-page exegesis on the relation between the black experience and the evolution of textured hair’s care, trends, and acceptance. However, I am strongly encouraging — strongly urging you — to begin a novice study of this topic because it is so important to know if you are raising a kiddo with textured hair. The information you’ll gain will make you go, “aha” and “now that makes sense.”
I recommend the following:
- Good Hair documentary
- You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
- Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana Bird and Lori Tharps
- “Black Hair Care and Culture, a Story” AAREG
All of these paragraphs above bring me to this MEGA important point: Talk positively about textured hair. Talk positively about your own hair, no matter what type it is. Set the example, mama.
The way we talk about hair matters. Avoid using phrases that imply textured hair is less than or not as desirable than other types of hair because it just isn’t true. Avoid expressing disappointment in your own hair or wishing for something different. There are plenty of ways to be honest about hair challenges that aren’t derogatory, such as:
- I want to try a new style today . . .
- I think it’s time for a wash! Gotta keep my hair healthy.
- When I get my hair cut, a new color sounds like fun.
- We need to detangle your hair so it stays as healthy as possible.
- It’s time to take out your braids to protect your roots and edges.
- It’s important to take the time to care for our hair the best way.
In addition, speak about hair in positive ways. We often call our eldest daughter’s hair “rock star” hair when she wears it fully out. We point out how cool it is both girls can wear all kinds of hairstyles. Complimenting hair is a common, natural occurrence in our home. When I came home from the salon with a new cut and color a few days ago, my youngest exclaimed, “Your hair looks amazing.” Yep, we celebrate our hair in this house.
I know you may have clicked on this article hoping for a step-by-step guide for hair routines and preferred products. I promise that post is coming! However, I think the above is so important to wrap your mind around before you ever purchase a leave-in conditioner. What I have learned about textured hair is that it needs to be embraced and celebrated. Start there, and you’re already way ahead in the game.