Bandwagons

One thing that’s kind of amusing about the natural hair community is the amount of bandwagons I’ve witnessed. Numerous people glom onto the words and/or pictures of a well known blogger/vlogger and attempt to copy their regimen and buy the same products they use, either subconsciously or consciously hoping that their hair will look as voluminous or as curly as theirs. This phenomena isn’t exclusive to natural hair, of course. When I had relaxed hair, during various times, a number of styles were the rage: the Halle Berry cut, Rihanna’s asymmetrical cut, the half bald, half full hair look (never could understand that one), the style where the top of your hair was flat twisted while the other half was left down and so on and on. It’s a little funny to see bandwagons in the natural hair community, though, since hardly any two heads of hair are exactly alike. It’s kind of weird to celebrate uniqueness yet attempt to do the same things as a lot of other people to try to get the same result. It’s human nature to want to fit in and belong, but when it comes to hair, I kind of have some issues with that.

There have been all kinds of bandwagons, but I’ll only highlight a few. One bandwagon where various naturals regarded the Denman brush as some kind of miracle. On my particular head of hair? Total fail. It felt like that thing was ripping it out. I ended up throwing it away, wasting a good deal of money. There was another bandwagon where the Tangle Teaser (a particular wide tooth comb) was praised to the heavens, but remembering my experience with the Denman brush, I stayed away from that one since I figured that thing would rip out my hair too. Then there was the time where Kimmaytube’s leave-in became the rage. It basically mixes Kinky Curly Knot Today, some aloe vera juice, castor oil and jojoba oil. Actually, this was one bandwagon I could get behind, since this is very moisturizing for my hair.

The latest bandwagon is using grease in your hair. You know, Dax, Blue Magic, etc. Some naturals have been using this stuff for awhile, but they were closeted since it’s not considered all that great for our hair type and they feared being looked down upon by those who are more zealous about using the “right” things for their hair. The main ingredients in grease are petroleum and/or its byproduct, mineral oil. It’s felt that those ingredients essentially act as Saran Wrap for our hair by blocking moisture from entering it and preventing the scalp from eliminating toxins, so a lot of experts offering advice on how to care for highly textured hair recommend avoiding products containing them. For decades, products containing petroleum and mineral oil were about all we had available to style our hair as knowledge about properly caring for highly textured hair was practically non-existent. Curl Junkie, DevaCare and Kinky Curly didn’t exist until a few years ago. In a lot of cases, it can be argued that our hair was just fine as a lot of women remember having long hair as children. I’m hesitant about joining this bandwagon for a couple of reasons. For one, I suffered from a lot of dandruff as a child and my mother would sometimes use Sulfer 8 in my hair because it claimed that it could control it. One whiff of that stuff was enough to knock you out. It smelled that bad. Think of the smell of rotten eggs multiplied several fold. In the end, it didn’t really control the dandruff that much and looking back, I’m not sure that all those flakes were all exclusively dandruff anyway. Sometimes your scalp can flake due to product buildup or a dry scalp. Back then, my hair was washed about every 2-3 weeks, however, product would be applied on my hair every few days as my mother redid my hair. All that product coupled with infrequent washing most likely lead to buildup. I haven’t had dandruff or flakes of any kind since going fully natural. Something to think about. Actually, while Sulfur 8 is the worst offender, most brands of grease don’t have a pleasant smell. After using products that smell like fruit, cake or flowers for the past couple of years, I wouldn’t be too thrilled to go back to the rotten egg smell of Sulfur 8 or the chemical smell of other brands of grease. Another reason I’m hesitant to go old school is because during childhood, when our neighbor and family friend did my hair, she was kind of heavy handed with the grease and I remember sometimes leaving grease spots at school during gym. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and the white kids I went to school with didn’t use grease, so I felt kind of embarrassed having them see those grease spots and having to explain to them why they were there. Those memories are kind of unpleasant for me.

To elaborate further, many people back then (as well as today) thought using grease would moisturize our hair. It was erroneously believed that water would dry out our hair, so it was best to avoid it as much as possible, which explains why a lot of blacks infrequently washed their hair. Remember, information about proper hair care for our hair type was basically non-existent. It’s actually not water that dries out our hair. Water is actually the best moisturizer for our hair. What actually dried out our hair was the sulfate shampoos we used to wash it with, but those were all that were available for decades. If anything, grease technically should be used as a sealant to lock in moisture. It’s a heavy product, so those with fine hair like I do probably will need to proceed with some caution if they don’t want to weigh it down. It also can attract dirt and lint, so you’d need to shampoo it out. Co-washing will not do.  In the natural hair community, grease has a bad rep, so those who swear by it aren’t always willing to admit they use it. I’m not a major natural nazi, so it makes no nevermind to me what other people use in their hair. The main thing about hair care is to do what works for your hair specifically. If Blue Magic works for you, then rock it. Just do due diligence and research it so that you know what you are getting into. Use it because it’s what your hair responds to, not because Curly Nikki does and you hope your hair will look exactly like hers if you use it too. Your hair is unique and beautiful in its own way and it has unique needs. Copying the same regimen and products that other people use could be disastrous for your hair as it won’t have the exact same properties as anyone else. Get to know your hair and what it needs and in the long run, it’ll pay big dividends in its health and vitality.

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