The contemporary natural-hair movement, which began in the early 2000s, has always been closely tied to hair-care products. Or, in the beginning, a lack thereof. Before there was Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding and Kinky-Curly Curling Custard, Black women were forced to DIY their hair care. Eventually, though, natural-hair-care products by early-entry Black-founded brands like SheaMoisture (launched in 1991) and Carol’s Daughter (1993) became widely available.
As products proliferated throughout the 2010s, so did the community’s reliance on hair typing, a system that categorizes curl patterns — commonly from wavy to kinky. Identifying one’s hair type became the skeleton key that unlocked all secrets of hair care and hairstyling.
At the Strategist, we love a deeply vetted, highly specific recommendation. So since 2018, we’ve been building our expertise in helping you find the best products and styling techniques for your natural hair, digging into questions like “What are the best products for a twist-out?” and “What are the best edge-controls?” This week, we’re highlighting all of our best natural-hair coverage. And because the community and its products are ever evolving, we’re also taking time this week to answer the question “Where is natural hair right now?”
One thing that’s bubbling up: Hair typing’s significance is now beginning to unravel, as savvy consumers discover characteristics that are more useful when it comes to care and styling, like hydration levels, density, texture, and porosity.
If we’re in the nascency of Does Hair Typing Even Matter?, we’re already in late stage But Are You Really Even Natural? Dunni Odumosu and Taleah Griffin are founders of the podcast Beauty Needs Me. “Around 2011, for you to be considered ‘natural’, you couldn’t wear wigs, you couldn’t wear weaves, you couldn’t get a blowout,” said Odumosu. The community now has a greater sense of acceptance and freedom. “Now, I can be a natural who gets my hair blown out every two weeks or can be a natural girl who wears 20-inch wigs but refuses to relax my hair.”
With more Black people natural than ever, there’s a push for visual representation of kinks and tight curls in order to help, at last, break away from the long-standing idealization of looser curls. “It’s important that we see 4C tight curls because society is still telling us that it is not acceptable. It’s getting more tighter curls out there and saying, ‘I can show up with my wash-and-go the same way a white girl can show up with her wash-and-go,’” said Griffin.
Below, find all of our Natural-Hair Week stories along with some of our previous coverage on natural-hair care. And keep checking in this week for more.
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