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The Natural Hair Movement – Why the Hype?

Renowned comedian Chris Rock did a documentary titled ‘Good hair in 2009. its main area of focus was the perception African-American women have towards their natural hair. He went into an in-depth exploration of the topic, going right back to the roots of African American hair. Chris also did a series of interviews with both men and women on what they felt were good hair.  

Chris Rock felt the urge to do the documentary because of a question his then three-year-old daughter asked him. To paraphrase the question, she was concerned about her curly hair. To this little girl, she did not have what she considered or perceived as good hair. At that young age, many would be surprised that she held such perceptions. Yet, society at large has a significant impact on how we perceive ourselves.   

Companies such as Keranique have fantastic products for the modern woman. Wearing natural hair should, therefore, be a breeze. Yet some struggle with it, further adding to the negative perceptions surrounding natural hair.

The focus on natural hair movement seems to be skewed more towards African-Americans. Yet, it embraces even those from other races who wear their hair naturally. For this article, we will focus on those of African descent. 

Shocking Revelations from the Documentary

The documentary interviewed many different people. It got opinions from salons, barber-shops, hair conventions, and scientific laboratories, to name a few.  Chris Rock even went to India to find out where human hair weaves come from.  The documentary also got celebrities to weigh in on the hair issue. Industry bigwigs such as Maya Angelou, Reverend Al Sharpton, Nia Long, and Meagan Good were some of the interviewees. 

What came out of the documentary is, perception towards natural beauty is very poor.  From a young age, beauty is defined by what is' unnatural.' The use of hair relaxers, for example, can have a negative impact, yet the industry is still thriving. 

Tracing the History of the Natural Hair Movement

The natural hair movement encourages black men and women to avoid chemical straightening and embrace their natural tresses. Chemical straightening of hair can have long-term negative effects. In some instances, there has been permanent scalp and hair damage. If the person handling the application does not have the relevant expertise, it will do more harm than good. 

Embracing the natural texture of the African hair has been a long-running conversation. Historians place the origin of the movement to the United States in the sixties. The conversation picked up again in the 2000s, and seems to be going strong.

Some of the terms used to describe natural hair have a negative connotation. The term nappy, for example, has some slave trade connotations. As a slave, one did not have time for beauty and hair regiments. Eventually, the hair would tangle, thus the term nappy. 

Yet, hair was very important in African civilization. People would know your social status, marital status, family background, tribe, and spirituality by the hairstyle. Just look at the intricate designs and obvious care in some cultures that still maintain their heritage. You can identify a lot of references to modern natural hairstyles from some of these cultures.

The Maasai and Turkana from Kenya, for example, have what shares remarkable similarity with micro-loss or sister locs. The Himba from north-western Namibia would grow dreadlocks to symbolize different stages in life. Those entering puberty would let the dreadlocks hangover their faces. Married women would wear a headdress. Young ladies who were ready for marriage would tie the hair back to reveal their faces. The men were not exempt from the tradition. A bachelor would wear his hair in a single braid. After marriage, they would cover their head as a sign of their new status. 

The Fulani from west Africa wore braids with embellishments symbolizing status. Cornrows, elaborate coiffures, tiny braids or locs, embellishments were all part of the African culture. Way before slavery and the loss of culture due to negative feedback from the slave masters. 

The Emergence of the Naturalistas

There seems to be an emergence of what some quarters refer to as naturalistas. It is a term that has gained popularity across the globe. If you embrace your natural hair, then you gain automatic membership to the 'club.'  What makes it interesting is the term is all-encompassing. No matter your race, so long as you enjoy natural beauty, you are a naturalista.

Going natural means you do not use any chemicals to alter the texture of your hair. The hot comb made it possible to achieve straight hair without permanently altering its natural state. Its invention is attributed to a French woman in 1845, but the basis goes back to Africa. She wanted to replicate hairstyles she saw from the Egyptians, which required the straightening of curls or tight coils. Talk to anyone who grew up in the 60s and 70s, and they will regale you with tales of the hot comb.  

Eventually, innovations found their way into the market, including curling irons, flatirons, and silk press, among others. The best part is once the style wears off, the hair goes back to its natural state.  Water is an enemy to straightened natural hair. Immediately the hair gets some moisture; it reverts back to its curly or kinky state. 

But What Can Be Driving the Hype Around Natural Hair?

The reality is that wearing natural hair is not anything new. For years, both men and women have embraced their natural tresses. The sudden spike in interest could be a clever marketing gimmick by those in the business of natural hair care products. 

The internet also has a large role to play. Bloggers and influencers enjoy large followings from people who want to know more about natural hair and its maintenance. Suddenly, natural hair has become the cool new trend.

Celebrity endorsement of the movement seems to be playing a significant role as well. India Arie's song, I am not my hair, brought a few ugly truths to the surface. She was daring enough to challenge society's perception of beauty. The obsession with visual representations is placing a tremendous strain on African American girls. There is much more to an individual or person, whether male or female than what is on their head.

Recently, the comedian Tiffany Haddish cut off her locks during an Instagram live post. She was of the opinion that taking care of her hair was too much work.  She joins the likes of Tamar Braxton, who are also spotting bald heads.

Other notable stars who have joined the bandwagon include; -

  • Actress Nicole Ari Parker, who is trying to teach her daughter to embrace her natural beauty

  • Singer Janelle Monae who embraces the versatility and diversity of natural hair

  • Actress Lupita Nyong'o who has been on magazine covers wearing her natural hair 

  • Singer Erykah Badu who loves her head wraps, afros, and anything natural

  • Actress Viola Davis who sought self-expression by letting go of makeup and wigs

  • Solange Knowles who uses her natural hair as a form of art and self-expression

  • Singer Lauryn Hill who has given us a range of natural looks including a short afro to long, thick dreadlocks

  • Jill Scott, who has always worn her natural hair with pride

The list above is by no means exhaustive. A cursory internet search can give you hundreds of other celebrities who are enjoying their natural tresses.

To see the impact of the natural hair movement, check out the following statistics from the industry.

  • The black hair care industry brought in revenue of over $2.51 billion in 2018

  • There was a 30.8% drop in relaxer sales between 2011 - 2016

  • In the ethnic beauty market sector, African Americans commanded 86% of the market share

  • There has been an increase in black-owned businesses catering specifically to women of colour

  • Haircare spend from African Americans was $473 million in 2017

Gone are the days of finding natural hair care products in specialty stores. You will now find them in major retailers, perhaps commanding as much space as the other products. The big corporations that previously ignored the natural hair market are now waking up. They are joining the introduction and promotion of products that target natural hair. 

The good side is there is so much choice available to help with the maintenance of natural hair.  On the reverse side, some of the products are so expensive. Many wonder if they deliver on their promises. 

Natural Hair in the Corporate and Education Sector

African American women still have to deal with perception around image when wearing natural hair. In the corporate scene, not having straight hair is considered unprofessional.  

There have been calls to stop discrimination based on hair.  

Places such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and New Jersey have set the wheels in motion.  They are proposing legislation that will ban discrimination based on race and hair. Lawmakers have joined the foray pushing for a larger acceptance of different kinds of beauty. California was the first State to outlaw hair-based racial discrimination. 

In New York City, a defendant can get up to $250,000 if she/he can successfully show discrimination based on hair. The State specifically points out that hairstyles such as twists, Bantu knots, cornrows, and afros, to name a few, should be an individual's choice to wear or not to wear.  

No one should demote, threaten, or fire and individual because of a hairstyle or hair texture. Yet the reality is the corporate world is not catching up. An individual has to choose between having a job or keeping the natural hairstyle. It, therefore, only makes sense that many would opt to conform to keep their jobs.

The educational sector is not safe from issues around natural hair. Recently, a troubling video went viral on social media when are young teen had to shave off his dreadlocks to participate in a wrestling event. With only 90 seconds to decide whether to cut off his dreads or forfeit the match, Andrew Johnson did not have too much choice.  

What made it especially heart-rending is that it happened in front of the Spectators. There was hue and cry from millions of people who thought that was a violation of Johnson's rights. Yet that is just one case that received attention because someone shared it on the digital space. 

What Is the Future for Natural Hair?

Embracing the natural hair is so much more than a conversation about hair. It is about changing the way black people perceive themselves. It is about breaking away from society's expectations of what is beautiful. Yet, the reality is that it can be difficult in a society that already has set mentalities. Those who accept the natural State do receive backlash from other people. 

The same applies to those in the movement. Some come across as bullies who are less accepting of those who do not embrace the natural tresses. Trying to get everyone to conform or follow specific standards or ideals has often rubbed some people in the wrong way. Anyone who ‘abandons’ the journey is seen as a traitor and has to endure backlash. Yet this is ironic because natural hair is about self-expression and choice. 

The reality is natural hair can be challenging to take care of. Those who have very thick hair find it easier to apply a relaxer to help with its management. By imposing restrictions, the naturalistas are going back to the very thing that started the movement altogether; the ability to wear your hair as you wish without having to follow any set standards or rules. 

Final Thoughts 

The natural hair movement has a lot of positive aspects to it. It delves into the very fundamentals of embracing oneself wholly. From a young age, boys and girls need to learn that they are beautiful regardless of what is on their head. 

The movement does not discriminate based on race, which is excellent for inclusivity. Those in seats of authority must do their part to inculcate the same thinking in everyone.

5 Methods To Boost Your Yoga Sessions

Yoga has quickly become one of the most practiced exercises in the modern world. While yoga is the preferred method of exercising for many, those that are new to it or are thinking about starting it may have some preconceived notions about it that are just baseless. Many newcomers and beginners find yoga to be a bit intimidating. You can understand their trepidation. Whenever an outsider looks into promo videos or any kind of advertisement for Yoga classes, the majority of what they see is very, very fit looking people doing impossible poses in these classes. These poses, one may rightfully assume, requires a lot of strength, balance and coordination to pull off. While this may seem to be true, there is much more to yoga classes than what meets the eye. The truth of the matter is that people of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels may practice yoga. Just because the adverts show only high skilled yoga practitioners, in most classes, there will be people who are just starting out. No matter your skill level, here are 5 tips to help you get the most out of your yoga sessions.  

1. Pre-workout and post-workout routines

These two routines, both pre and post workout, are paramount to getting the best results possible from your yoga sessions. Most of us have very busy schedules and having a stable pre and post workout routine will go a long way in getting the optimal benefits from your yoga sessions. It may very often be the case that you may not prioritize a small meal before the session. What with hectic schedules, just the workout by itself may be taxing on your packed schedules. If you, however, do want to get the best workout in, you should seriously consider a small and healthy snack right before the yoga session. Something as simple as just half of a banana or even just 10 almonds is recommended to have you not feeling clumsy and tired during the yoga session. While the small meal before you start working out will really help during the session, it is also as essential to not ruin all the gains from the session with junk food after the session. A simple protein shake or a small salad are the ideal go to foods for your post workout meals. 

2. Preparation 

You do not need to splurge on the most expensive workout gear or clothing to get the optimum benefits from your yoga sessions. You should, however, ditch the baggy clothing when you do your yoga classes. While the baggy clothing may feel more comfortable by not making you too self conscious, it comes with a lot of drawbacks, specially for yoga classes. Certain poses are just not attainable with loose fitting clothing. So make sure you are dressed properly. A few other tips that can really help you with getting the most benefits include arriving at least 15 minutes early, bringing a yoga mat, a towel and a bottle of water. The very last thing that you would want to do is to use the class to get rid of the stress of transportation to and from the yoga studio. You should make sure to arrive a bit early so that you can clear your mind before the class starts and focus completely on the class when it does start. 

3. Focus

Yoga is great for improving your focus, in improving your ability to tune out distractions. This practice starts with the class itself. Focus is also a skill that you can improve by working on it, very much like any other muscle. As with any other muscle, the more stress you put it through, the better it will get in being better equipped to handle that kind of stress. 

One of the best things you can do (or not do really) to improve your yoga classes, is to make sure that you are not comparing yourself to others in the class. There may be people who are at a much more advanced level than you are but it is important to remember that those people were also beginners at some point. They worked on their yoga and put in the hard work required to reach the level that they are at now. So it really does not do anyone any good to compare themselves with another person. If you focus on yourself, you will soon be able to recognize the abilities that you do have. It is also important to point out here that no matter what level of fitness you are at, you should never feel like you are straining yourself in the class. 

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself

The world is filled with people who are going to doubt you and make you doubt yourself.

Make sure you are not doing this to yourself though. This will have no benefits. If you are too hard on yourself you may not see all that is good on you and this can lead you to some pretty tough roads. 

5. Consider Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy has been in the game for around 40 years now. This therapy method uses specific wavelengths of light to fix tissue in the body that may have become damaged or at a high risk of injury. This type of therapy stimulates our cells which is a therapy method that has numerous benefits, some of these benefits are listed below. 

Research has proven that red light therapy is an extremely reliable treatment option for a bunch of thyroid conditions and the associated symptoms of thyroid conditions. Red light therapy also can balance testosterone as well as sex hormones in women. Red light therapy has also been proven to reduce inflammation, including the type that is related to autoimmune responses. 

Yoga is a great way to achieve peak mental and physical fitness. If you are already investing in it by getting admitted in a yoga class, the methods listed above will surely go a long way in helping you get the most out of your yoga classes.

3 Tips to Avoid Contaminating Your Skin Care Products: Are you Guilty of Being a Double Dipper?

How can we keep our skincare products safe? What causes skincare products to become contaminated and go bad? Is it harmful to use skincare products that have been contaminated or have gone bad? The short answer is no. It is not safe. There is a time to throw out questionable products and purchase new, safer ones. People can take steps to use their skincare products safely without contaminating them accidentally.

Why Do Skincare Products Go Bad?

There are a lot of reasons for skincare products to go bad, including time and contamination by improper use by the consumer. Dipping your fingers in a jar of face cream time after time can lead to contamination, especially if those fingers are not clean. Consider mascara with its wand that touches a person's eyelashes and then is shoved back into its dark, moist container to breed bacteria. The safe thing to do with mascara is to throw it out and replace it every two or three months. Keep it longer and risk eye infections.

It is wise to find out about products in jar and how to use them safely. Constantly dipping fingers in the jar can introduce bacteria. Then, if you use those same fingers to dip into another product, you spread the contamination from product to product. Thicker skincare products are packaged in jars. These can include face masks, cream-based products, moisturizers, facial scrubs, and other products.

Properly formulated products with safe preservatives or emulsifiers are less likely to be contaminated by fingers dipping into them. But, products without preservatives or emulsifiers can be contaminated and won't last longer than a few weeks before they need to be disposed of.

If a person wants to avoid any chance of contamination, they can use small plastic spatulas or cotton swabs to remove the product from the jar. But, if a person cleans their hands before using the product, contamination will not be a problem.

If a person dips fingers in the product, touches their face, and then dips their fingers into the product again (called double-dipping), the skincare product can be contaminated with bacteria, mold, or yeast from the face.

How to Stay Safe

To avoid contaminating skin care products, follow these three tips:

1. If using products in jars, wash your hands thoroughly before dipping them into the product. Your face should also be washed and clean.

2. Use those little spatulas or cotton swabs to remove a skincare product from the jar, and never double-dip.

3. Consider using products that come in containers that let you remove the product without dipping your fingers into the container. Tubes or bottles that let you squeeze the proper amount into your hands are good.

Don't Keep Products Too Long

Another cause of products going bad is keeping them too long. If a product begins to separate, change color, or smell funny, get rid of it. Purchase skin care products with use-by dates on them, and discard them after that date. Only using safe, fresh products on your skin is an important consideration. Keeping products only until their use-by date and avoiding dipping dirty fingers into them will go a long way toward avoiding contamination of the skincare products.

Purchasing good-quality products with the correct formulas and safe preservatives also help to have safe skincare products.

The Night Skin Care Routine You Should Never Skip

All of us have heard about how sleep is crucial for the overall functioning of the body. An 8-hour sleep is what you need to keep the body healthy and fit. The same 8-hour sleep formula has amazing effects on the skin, as well. 

But, do you know your skin works hard to repair itself while you sleep? Therefore, it is recommended to keep your skin in its best condition with a good night care routine before you hit the bed. But how? 

Well, you might know that going to bed without washing your face is bad for the skin. But, what else should you follow after that? Should you apply a face pack or scrub? Can you some extra lotion on your skin? 

Don’t worry! We are going to throw some light on what makes a good night skincare routine. Whether you are in your 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s, anyone can follow this routine. Let’s get started!

Start With Cleansing

First things, first! Cleanse your face using a good-quality cleanser (made for your particular skin type) before going to sleep. If you wear makeup, use makeup wipes too. It helps remove oil, dirt, pollutants, makeup, or other environmental elements your skin might have been exposed to.

If you don’t do so, it may cause a host of skin problems, such as clogged pores, premature aging, acne breakouts, change in skin texture, etc. Whether you have oily, dry, sensitive, or normal skin, cleansing is the first step of the night skincare routine. 

Tone Your Skin Or Not?

How crucial is a toner for your skin? Well, it depends upon individual skin type. If you don’t have any skin concerns, probably you can skin it. But, what about others?

Most people think that the sole purpose of a toner is to address oily or acne-prone skin. However, toners also help remove dead skin cells or anything that cleanser missed. Moreover, it balances the pH and brings the skin back to normal.

So, adding a toner to your night skincare routine can help you get those skin results you have been dreaming of!

Don’t Miss Your Eye Cream

The eye area is the most fragile and delicate skin area on your face. It is one of the first spots where aging signs appear. So, it is essential to provide this area with some extra care to reduce the signs of aging. 

Remember, unlike your body’s skin, the eye cream isn’t made of rough and tough stuff. Think of this area as you would a baby. Use your ring finger so that you apply the least amount of pressure on this delicate area.

Use Skin Repair Agents

Depending upon your skin type, it starts aging between 20’s and mid 30’s. Therefore, it is a myth that one should start using skin repair creams late. But, it is better to add them to your skincare routine earlier.

Besides, you can include anti-aging products to your makeup routine. For example, you can replace your regular face powder with pearl beauty tonic powder

Don’t Forget To Use Moisturizer

Whether you have a skin concern or not, don’t forget to use a moisturizer. An overnight moisturizer keeps the lipid barrier in an adequate form. It also assists in the skin’s recovery and restorative process. 

By skipping the moisturizer, you only increase your chances of moisture loss, which isn’t good for the skin. Along with night cream, you can opt for hydration boosting skin care products. 

To Sum Up

If you want to lessen the chances of premature aging, the night time skincare routine is a must. Furthermore, if you have a skincare routine, a nightly skincare routine is even more important. The tips mentioned above can help you achieve your skincare goals!

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