The Problem with Natural Hair and Locs

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6 thoughts on “The Problem with Natural Hair and Locs

  1. With all due respect to Richard Spencer and without undermining his professional expertise, I cannot but vehemently disagree with the viewpoint put forward about pretty much all of the commonly-held afro hairtsyles being the cause behind the traction alopecia epidemic.
    What would have been far more responsible for this article to stress is that these hairstyles are not in themselves a threat to the hair condition, however it is the method that is taken to install it and the tighness of the plait that is the threat.
    They are few in number, but certainly do exist – responsible hairdressers who are mindful of causing too much stress on the hairline and exercise methods of braiding hair to minimise stress on the hair follicle. It is also the hairdresser’s responsibility (and duty) to advise their client on ways of retaining their hairline and preventing loss. This could be by advising against leaving their hair too long in certain braided styles, and not going from one braid style to another without a break in between. For those caught up in a cycle of one braided hairstyle to another, they need to do themselves a favour and seek out the more responsible hairdressers, even if they have to pay a bit more. However it seems for the sake of cost and convenience (and I guess to some degree ignorance), they don’t. This is the crux of the issue.
    As far as locs wearers (the groomed kind) are concerned, and I include myself in this community, personal interaction has uncovered that the majority are better informed of afro hair care on the whole, and choose to wear their hair in this style because it has been found to REVERSE hair loss, not on the contrary as Richard asserts. I have come across countless testimony of how wearing locs (provided the retightening is done responsibly and styles that pull back the hair is not overused) that their hair is back to life in its fullest within a year. Of course, I am excluding cases where the wearer has already suffered permanent hair loss. Moreover, there are a plethora of different loc styles out there and many are versatile to style, and arguably more alluring than many a braided style I’ve seen, yet without causing the permanent damage that braids can do.

    I am very concerned about Richard Spencer’s one-sided claims about Afro hair because he could be purporting a very skewed image and thus only reinforcing the many fallacies about black hair. I cannot but question whose side he is on when I read the title to the next installment of your series: ‘Why the Tricologist Richard Spencer believes Relaxers and Perms are better than many Natural Hair Styles’ – is he being sponsored by L’Oréal or another one of the big players in the balck haircare industry – Procter & Gamble perhaps?
    Beggars belief that any normal -thinking person could promote chemically-laden hair additives over the zero health-threat alternatives such as bariding. Being responsible should be the bottom line.

    @ Valley – I would like to say that on the whole I appreciate your website, and I have signed up to your blog. There is some gems of information contained in here enough for me to keep abreast of your updates and findings.

    • Hi Nzinga – Thank you for your detailed response. You make some very good and interesting points. I agree that you entitled to disagree with Richard Spencers’ findings, as it is his view, all of which are debatable.

      What I particularly do like about Richard’s comment is that it gives food for thought about the way we do our hair. Although I appreciate that many people do not have problems, from my unscientific head count it appears that many more do have problems bought on by what appears to be the result of ‘natural’ hair styling practices. And what I have taken from his advice is that I need to think about what positions I force my hair into, and how often I do these styles, so as to prevent the possibility of hair loss.

  2. The tricologist gave a fascinating and enlightening description of the composition and strength of afro- textured hair. He was right that traction alopecia can be caused by applying persistent and chronic tension to the hairline by attaching false hair by weaving, gluing, by using chemical relaxers and even by attaching braids that are woven in too tightly. Evidence suggests that incidents of serious hair loss among black people are accelerating. This kind of Hair loss is undoubtedly a source of distress for many years. It was interesting that Stevie Wonder was sighted as an example receding hairline caused by braiding his hair over many years but in such discussions it is vital to distinguish between “male pattern baldness” (androgenetic alopecia) which many men, over the age of 50 experience. This is caused by genetics and hormones unlike traction alopecia. to protect individuals health and well-being parents and hairdressers definitely require a higher level of skills when caring for, and grooming natural afro- textured hair. They need to understand the composition, strength and versatility of afro-textured hair whilst at the same time being aware of the risks of all types of chemical relaxers.

    • Hi Firehot, I agree that Stevie Wonder was perhaps not the best example, but I think we got the point. Also as you say, yes there is a problem with those in the business demonstrating that they have the expertise to manage afro hair.

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