Early 20th Century African American Woman Photo Credit
The natural hair world is like one big university. What an interesting way to start off a blog, right?
I’m serious though, it’s as if I wake up every morning and report to class of some sort. Every day, thanks to beloved social media, I’m learning something different. Be it product information, hair care tips, or even the science behind hair…I’m getting schooled on it all! Most recently I had one of the most enlightening discussions with one of my curl mates (like class mates…get it?). Any who, the convo went a little something like this:
“Girl, I heard that we (Black women) traditionally grease our scalps because the slaves used to do it, but not to help grow their hair. They would put petroleum jelly on their scalps to prevent fleas and ticks from feeding on their scalps.”
If this tid bit of history just made you have an “Ahhh, ” moment then you’re just like me. I had never heard this before!
However, it immediately made me go back in time to the days when I was sitting in between my mom’s legs as she parted my hair and slapped that “Blue Magic” on my head. I remember getting up with a head shiny enough to compete with the moon at night and feeling like my hair was infallible because of it. But now…after not greasing my scalp for years, I can honestly say that it did nothing for me. All it did was make my hair heavy and limp!
Of course we haven’t totally booted the “scalp oiling” practice. We now know that treating the scalp with oil is conducive to achieving goals; but the thick grease… we could do without. This conversation led me to wonder, what other common hair care practices exist that have stuck with us since slavery?
Now, we all swear by sleeping in our satin bonnets and for the fancy, lying on a satin pillow case…but exactly how did this come about? While I was doing my research, I found that the slaves would cover their heads in cloths to:
1. Hide it from the sun, cold and other elements during the day (mainly to stay cool or warm)
2. Hide any bald patches that were caused by ringworms and other skin infections
3. Protect their hair and scalp at night from insects while they slept.
It wasn’t until many years later that it was discovered that covering the hair in satin scarves would not only protect it but also be beneficial to the health of the hair!
Much like the human race and even technology, natural hair care has its own story of evolution and I am 100% here for it chile! The natural hair community is rich with history and I, for one, will come prepared with my pen and paper ready to take notes because you can’t truly love what you don’t truly know.
Are there any historical hair care facts that you’ve uncovered during your natural hair journey? Please share with us what you know! Each one teach one, girlfriend!
About Alondra: Joke telling, hair pick toting, life-living Southern Bell by way of Memphis, Tennessee. I’m a young,educated black woman pursuing dreams by day and a super hero by night; my powers reside in my mind. To state it simply, I plan to save the world one conversation at a time. @Color_Me_Diva @MyManeThang