by Ijeoma of Klassy Kinks
Many New York naturals will say that the current movement was born there, particularly in Brooklyn. The original natural hairstyling gurus – before the days of YouTube – such as Diane C. Bailey, Anu Pretoria and Tulani Kinard who have been doing natural looks since the 80s, are all based in New York and have been training up the latest crop of natural hairstylists around the country. Major brands such as Carol’s Daughter, Karen’s Body Beautiful, Devachan, Miss Jessie’s, Shea Moisture and many more salons started out in NYC, so there is no shortage of product or hairstyling options. Even some of the most popular bloggers (Jenell B. Stewart, HeyFranHey, Chescaleigh and Taren Guy)bring you videos from The Big Apple. Finally, New York is home to a few notable naturals such as Chrisette Michele and Lupita Nyong’o.
Although the Real Housewives and Love and Hip Hop franchises will have you thinking otherwise, Atlanta’s natural hair community is booming. For the past 17 years, Taliah Waajid – who has had salons in both New York and Atlanta – has hosted the World Natural Hair Health and Beauty Show in the ATL. Notable natural hair brands such as CurlBox, Too Groovy Salon, Eden Body Works are based in Atlanta. Natural hair bloggers, LexiWiththeCurls, Natural Chica and Mahogany Knots can also be seen out and about in the city.
London easily takes the cake for the most natural-friendly city in Europe. In fact, almost all other cities are seriously struggling. To start off, popular natural hair blogs, Care For Your Hair and Natural Belle are both based out of the UK vicinity alongside YouTube vlogger, FusionofCultures. Although a recent addition to the UK natural hair scene, curlfriends Elle and Neecie behind the super popular NaturalHairDaily instagram account are helping to catapult the natural hair movement forward across the Atlantic ocean. UK scientist, JC of the Natural Haven provides the most scientifically accurate information regarding natural products and natural hair care for naturals around the world. We might think we’re doing something by having a natural hair day in the states but UK has an entire Natural Hair Week!
Chicago is holding the natural hair scene down in the Midwest with the best natural hair blog in the world, Black Girl Long Hair! Other actually famous (not as in I have mad views, but as in I get invited to red carpet events and to do collaborations with MAC and to be the face of brands) natural hair-wearing bloggers repping the Chi include Afrobella, Luvvie, and the Monroe Sisters. On the salon and brand side, Huetiful changed the game with their at-home hair steamer system, as well as their salon and it’s innovative services, while Harvard educated Chris-Tia Donaldson is the name behind the book and product line Thank God I’m Natural.
Representing the African continent is Nairobi, Kenya, where (from my personal observations), natural hair of all forms is readily welcomed and celebrated. Of particular note is the number of loc’ed naturals in Nairobi, which I would say was a far greater number than in any American city I’ve been in. Unlike the US, regular women – not brands, salons or hairstylists – are driving the natural hair movement and keeping it afloat in Kenya. For example, Mary and Nyachomba of Kurly Kichana are one of the early movers of the natural hair movement in Nairobi, and although the movement has not been around long, it has grown exponentially fast.
Honorable Mentions: Washington DC, Johannesburg, Houston
Did your city make the list? What do you think makes a city good for natural hair – access to products, many events, salons?
KlassyKinks.com founder and editor, Ijeoma Eboh, is on a mission to change perceptions of kinky textured hair around the world. You can find her on social media @klassykinks.