Friday, February 17, 2012

History of Black Hair: Misconceptions, Styles & Myths

Since it is Black History month and all, I thought it would be worth exploring the history of black hair. Including misconceptions, styles, and myths that have been passed on from generation to generation in the black community.

Hot combs or straightening combs---the process by which hair is temporarily straightened with the use of a metal hot comb. The hot comb was invented in France and used by women with ultra curly hair to obtain straight locks. In the 1900's, Madame C.J. Walker altered the hot comb by widening the teeth. Today the hot comb has been revolutionized into the flat iron.

Greasing the scalp---if you're black I'm sure you grew up with several jars of grease in your home. As black people we love us some grease ha. I remember slabbing on tons of blue grease to give my hair that added shine and asking my mom to grease my scalp. Greasing the scalp is one of the biggest misconceptions in the black community because many believe that greasing the scalp helps the hair grow or reduces dandruff.

Jheri Curls-----I am LMBO thinking about the Jheri Curl couple in 'Coming to America'. This was a classic look in the black community during the 1970's and 1980's. Invented by Jheri Redding, the hairstyle gave the wearer a glossy, loosely curled look (Wash-n-go's can be seen as the modern day jheri curls).

Mirco Braids & Box Braids---When I think of Mirco Braids I think of old school Brandy....Box Braids 'Poetic Justice' Janet Jackson. Both hairstyles can last for months and include braiding hair extensions to separated sections of the hair. Micro braids and box braids are responsible for imitation alopecia in many black women today. This style was very popular in the 90's. 

Conrows---- I would like to nominate Snoop dogg as the King of Cornrows. He is the only thug I know that can pull this look off without questioning his masculinity. Cornrows is another african american hairstyle that was popular in the 90's among Rappers, Hip Hop and R&B singers.

Hi -Top Fade-----Two words "House Party"! Kid had a serious hi-top fade in the movie House Party but for real tho...that fade did not do anything for him. The hi-top fade was popular during the late 80's and early 90's and symbolizes the golden era of Hip Hop. 

Relaxers--the first relaxer was created in 1877 by Garret A. Morgan....and the rest is history. Relaxers permanently change the structure of curly, kinky hair to straight hair. Today relaxers are referred to in the natural hair community as 'creamy crack'.

Natural Hair-----Mid to late 2000's is when the explosion happened. A lot of black women had worn their hair natural but not in the increasing numbers that we are seeing today. Sales of relaxer kits declined by 36% last year, further validating the increasing trend of black women going natural. I believe that this is not a trend at all but is here to stay. As we become more health conscious and environmentally friendly more and more women will refrain from using harsh chemicals. 

Last but not least, is the infamous Little girl 1,001 Barrettes, we all have a picture in our Easter or Christmas dress smiling with a thousand little colored barrettes in our hair. I pledge that whenever I have a little girl I will not overload her hair with barrettes.....

I hope you enjoyed the post!


  1. You took me waaay back with this post. Back to the days of sitting on the floor while my mom put some blue magic on my scalp. And back to the days of having a ton of barrettes and hair ties everywhere. I did somehow get out of the 80s without having a jheri curl even though everyone in my family had one.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I had a blast writing this post. The majority of the time I was laughing because of all the great memories that these hairstyles bring to mind.


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