Online Hair Care Craze: Necessary or Over the Top?

What lengths are you willing to go to educate yourself about hair care? In the past, our main resources for learning about how to care for our hair were hair magazines, hair stylists or simply exchanging tips and advice through word of mouth. Black women today have the luxury of having hundreds of hair care resources at our fingertips simply by searching the internet. It seems that we are in the midst of some kind of hair revolution (most notably, the natural hair movement). Black women have mastered the art of weaves, natural hair and the like even going as far as to make businesses out of their hair knowledge.

Seeing us all embracing our hair is beautiful thing but is our obsession with hair is necessary or over the top?

In the year 2007, I discovered the budding community of Black hair care sites. I had just moved away from home and was in need of some hair care advice on how to maintain my relaxed hair. I was apprehensive about going to a hair salon as I had always seemed to have hit or miss experiences. Through some googling, I was able to find some helpful resources on how to care for and maintain my hair. The first site I stumbled across was Black Hair Media.

Here was a site dedicated to sharing and exchanging hair care types and advice amongst Black women. It was informative to say the least. The forums had designated topics it's users could post under such as relaxers, styling, weaves, etc. I learned about hair types (I'm a 4a), length retention, how to nourish my hair and a host of other things I probably never would have learned outside of the internet. How convenient it was to go online, post a question and receive prompt and helpful responses in less than 24 hours!

Fast forward 6 years and now the craze for hair care has become a standard on the web. Not only are there progressively more Black women embracing their natural hair texture, the niche for Black women hair care has caught the attention of several major hair care brands such as Loreal and Pantene. India.Arie has made a song about our hair, Chris Rock made a documentary about our hair and Solange Knowles lashed out on the "natural hair police" on Twitter for constantly bashing the way she wore her hair. Are we getting carried away? Well, there are a few things to consider before we can determine that.

To state the obvious, many Black women have hair that is not easy to manage. Our hair can be dry, fragile, extremely thick and/or coarse and being that our hair is so unique and has special needs (i.e., balanced moisture and protein), some of us feel obligated to research how exactly we can keep our hair healthy. It's not so simple for us to walk into the hair care section of a store and pick up a bottle of shampoo or conditioner that will solve all of our hair care problems-- our hair is far too complex for that.

We also have to consider that for many years, a lot of Black women and girls were made to feel that our hair was ugly or not "good". Case in point, Chris Rock's daughter who posed the question, "Daddy, why don't I have good hair?" that inspired him to create the documentary Good Hair. Because of this, hair has been a huge part of Black femininity. Like the saying goes: "a woman's hair is her glory". We have gone from pressing combs to relaxers to afros to jheri curls to finger waves to box braids and more. Our hair trends are forever evolving, the only difference now is that we have advanced technology to share our hair insights via the web.

Another thing to keep in mind is that women often get bored with their hair-- this applies to all races and ethnicities. And thanks to the convenience of the online Black hair community, there is an endless array of tutorials and ideas that we use when styling and caring for our hair which cannot be different from makeup or DIY project tutorials. It's fun to mix it up and be creative and if our object of choice is hair, so be it.

There are definitely some pros to our obsession with hair. The Black hair care business is booming right now. I've noticed more availability of quality Black hair products in major retail chains than I have ever seen before. Back in the day, you had to go to the Black beauty supply stores to get certain products whereas I am now finding a decent selection in places like Target and CVS.

Hair care gurus have began turning their online endeavors into businesses. They have created their own hair care products, written books, branded their own hair extension lines, hosted national seminars and so much more. This movement is definitely worth taking notice to. More hair products are being made for us and by us. This hair care craze has given Black women a space to unify, enterprise and get their creative juices flowing. And though it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes since at the end of the day it's just hair, it's nice to see us benefit from one of the many things that sets us a part from women of other races.

What do you think? Is our obsession with hair and hair care necessary?

LaChelle is an aspiring novelist and songwriter. An avid reader and social commentator, her mission is to engage the minds of others through her artistry. Catch her on Twitter @_theELLE_

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