Yes, we are still talking about this issue, why? Because it’s still an issue! There has been an effort by big brands to make foundations for darker skin tones. In 2014, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o became the first black ambassador for Lancôme. In 2016 L’Oréal UK launched #YoursTruly campaign, where they expanded their foundation range covering 23 shades.
Iman face powder has been my staple for years, I love it! Before using it I didn’t wear face powder as I never found a shade I was completely happy with. Even when I had acne, I didn’t wear makeup partly because I didn’t have confidence I’d find my shade but also because I didn’t want to add anything else to my already troubled skin.
It’s good that big brands are expanding their ranges, but I don’t think we should just give our money to them on a plate. There are other brands which have included products for darker skin tones a part of their core ethos and we should be supporting them too!
L’Oréal was established in 1909, and in 2016 they expanded their range. Hmmm…ok, I guess as the saying goes “better late than never”, can be applied here?
This year I’ve left my Christmas shopping late, I know it’s cliché but usually I’m organised. I’ve had my office Christmas party so got the secret Santa present out of the way and now I’m onto my friends.
I’m Christmas shopping and battling the UK winter. Trying to keep warm, as well as preventing my hair and skin from drying out!
I like to give gifts that I would want to receive. So, I’ve decided to go the gift set route this year, it’s the most efficient!
I’ve been using Shea Butter Cottage’s rhassoul clay for over and year now and love it! My friend wants to try it but hasn’t got around to buying it yet. So, I’ll get it for her, along with a few other trinkets (that’s what friends are for!). I know it’s something she wants, so when I found it in a gift set I knew it was meant to be!
I usually buy the 1kg bag and mix it to a thick consistency; as you can see I’m running low (but don’t worry, I’ve already ordered my next batch).
Good hair…hmm.. two simple words that have caused controversy on social media in recent times. But what is good hair?!
You can define it however you want; I think it starts with healthy hair, says Oyin, Founder of The Good Hair Club (TGHC). In the black hair community, unfortunately it’s still defined as having a specific (looser) curl pattern, but perceptions are changing with this latest natural hair movement.
What is TGHC?
An online platform with (at the moment) independent British hair care brands, that compliment natural hair. TGHC is about being good to yourself, your hair and the world – while defining beauty on your own terms.
Why was TGHC started?
From March 2015 I lived in Nigeria for a while and decided to shave my hair off. It was just too hot! I came back to London, and chose not to relax my hair again. When my hair was relaxed I didn’t think about the damage these chemicals could cause or even considered how to look after my hair properly.
What was it like for you looking for natural hair products?
I found so many amazing (independent) brands catering for natural hair. However, they weren’t always easy to find, as they don’t always have the distribution channels to reach customers.
We don’t have to settle for products which damage our hair and scalp!
When was TGHC launched?
June 2016, with a photography exhibition showcasing the diversity of black women. Prior to launch I did a lot of research, speaking to friends and family about where TGHC could add value in the market place.
Do you think the UK natural hair market is growing?
Yes! Social media has provided black beauty bloggers/vloggers the opportunity to create a fun space for tools/advice; and visual evidence of what can be achieved with natural afro/curly hair.
There is proof that natural hair isn’t IMPOSSIBLE to maintain. Women are wearing their natural hair with pride.
How do you decide which brands to feature on TGHC?
Along with looking at brand reviews, I talk to the brand owners to understand if their values are in line with the TGHC ethos. I’m not limited to British brands, but this is where I’m starting.
A large proportion of black haircare businesses in the UK are owned by Asian or Middle Eastern men, why do you think this is?
I don’t know. It’s the same in America. Black people need to empower and support each other and build our own establishments. When I went natural and visited these shops, I realised that we settle for an experience that isn’t about us (even though we are the main consumers). I’m a black woman and believe I have a better idea of black beauty needs, compared to an Asian man.
I want to create an experience that is fun, exciting, fashionable and beauty-led.
Most popular products on TGHC?
Moisture is key for healthy hair, so conditioners are popular, especially with the rise of co-washing. Soap bars and oils are also near the top of the list.
Autumn is upon us, any product recommendations?
I recommend them all! It’s about finding what works for your hair type. The natural hair journey is an individual one. Products used in colder months may be different from what you use in the summer.
Exciting developments we can look out for?
I’ve got an international project coming in 2017; I won’t say much at the moment, but watch this space. I’m also planning on bringing more amazing brands to TGHC.
Any natural hair inspirations?
Of course! Solange is the embodiment of the care free black girl. Lupita Nyong’o has challenged western beauty ideas. Most importantly, both have fun with their hair.
Solange scored her first #1 Album (A Seat at the Table) a few weeks ago.
Good hair, don’t care! You can check out TGHC to find out more.
I have what is classed as “4C” afro hair and been natural for over 10 years. Before then I experimented with weaves, braids and relaxers. I decided to go natural after realising my hair was “allergic” to chemical relaxers (self-diagnosis!).
When my hair was relaxed it was ‘easier to manage’ but I noticed a lot of breakage. Yes, I said it – ‘easier to manage’. I’ve used that phase in reference to my chemically relaxed hair and I regret it.
I was ignorant.
I was ignorant about my own natural hair, because I didn’t take time to understand it! Even when I went natural, I still didn’t really understand how my hair works. Only in the last 4 years, I’ve taken time to understand my hair and I’m still learning (due to its versatility). Now my natural hair is ‘easier to manage’, because I understand what it likes.
I remember hating water touching my hair became I was scared of shrinkage. Now I know water is my hairs best friend and shrinkage is to embraced.
The great thing about the ‘natural hair movement’ – there is so much information out there (which can be overwhelming at times), so the journey is always an individual one, involving trial and error. I’ve learnt that even if someone has the same hair texture as me, products they use may not always work for me.
We all have differences in opinion on what works for natural hair, and some information may seem contradictory. It’s up to you to test and decide what’s right for your hair.
If you have any advice or tips, please share in the comments section as we all learn from each other. Finally, some last tips on maintaining moisture – a must for afro/curly textured hair.
IS NATURAL HAIR PREJUDICE SHRINKING IN THE WORKPLACE?
Afro hair in the workplace
Historically afro/curly/textured hair hasn’t, had an easy ride. In attempts to align with a European beauty ideal, women (and men) have forced their hair to conform. However, in 2016, in arguably the most significant era of the natural-hair movement since its prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, women have embraced their freedom and started revelling in their natural hair beauty. But will unspoken ‘rules’ of the workplace undercut this natural hair revival? In the world of celebrity, natural hair is increasingly in the spotlight – thanks largely to individuals such as Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, British singer Jameila and Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo.
Their decision to wear their hair natural hasn’t hindered their careers, but for the not-so famous, the psychological battle of deciding whether to wear natural hair to work continues.
“One weekend I took out my weave and went to work on Monday with my natural hair,” says Annie from Manchester, who works in finance. “I was so apprehensive when I first went in. Being the only black woman in the department, everyone was staring and talking about it … There were some negative but also some positive comments. Colleagues were quite shocked, [some] even touched my hair!”
Annie is not the only one to experience the ‘hands-on’ approach. “When I started wearing my natural hair to work, there was lots of fascination – colleagues asked to touch it”, says Belinda from London, who works in market research. “I do get positive comments, but I don’t see why I should give full-blown explanations about my hair at work – it’s hair, it’s just a different texture to yours. Views about natural hair are so entrenched, we don’t even realise. If I worked somewhere and they told me to cover my natural hair, I wouldn’t work there anymore.”
Increasingly, anecdotes of black women experiencing problems after wearing their natural hair at work have been surfacing in the media. Earlier this year, ‘Leila’ from London reported that she was told by her employer to wear a weave to work. “I am West African and I work at a consultancy firm in London,” she told the BBC.“I am always being made to feel that my natural hair gives the impression that I am unprofessional”. Leila subsequently changed her hairstyle, fearing her natural hair would become an obstacle to career progression.
Another Londoner, Simone Powderly, claimed she was told by a recruitment agency to remove her braids before being put forward for interviews with luxury designer brands. She declined. Meanwhile Canadian waitress Akua Agyemfra was reprimanded at work after her manager allegedly told her to wear her hair down, to which she replied, my hair doesn’t really “go down”.
Unfortunately, many people of all races have inherited the fallacy that afro hair is ‘unprofessional’.
“I think it’s an issue that women of colour can’t feel confident and feel they have to navigate the workspace, hiding their natural hair”, says Oyin Akiniyi (pictured), founder of The Good Hair Club online beauty store.
“The idea that only straight hair is professional is ludicrous”. Nevertheless, it remains a common concern – even for Neecie Gold, co-founder of The Natural Hair Daily, which ran an afro-hair meetup and workshop at Africa Utopia, sharing natural-hair style tips and celebrating the versatility of natural hair. “I was a bit nervous about going natural to work,” says Gold. “At the time I was working for a car dealership, but I just confidently rocked it. “As I’m natural now and trying to branch away from the industry I’m in, I’ve found it quite difficult to secure interviews, which does make me question whether my LinkedIn profile picture is a reason for this. It’s a shame there is some ignorance among some employers regarding natural hair. Employers should judge people based on whether they can do the actual job.”
To wash away lingering, archaic prejudices, natural hair needs to be more visible in the workplace. Unless natural hair becomes a ubiquitous feature in our culture it may always face resistance. If people with naturally straight hair are not forced to wear their hair in an un-natural state, the same latitude should be extended to those with afro/curly textured hair.”
Many naturals are concerned with hair length, when it should be about hair health! For thousands of years African women have creatively styled their hair in various ways. Historically, African hairstyles have always been a sign of identity, including social status and indication of the geographical region they are from. For some tribes like the Massai, short/shaved hair is gender neutral and seen as a rite of passage through various stages of life.
If you’re thinking about doing the big chop, whether you want to keep it short and simple or get a bit more creative, see below for some hairspiration and tips!