Prior to slavery, Africans took pride in their hair. Hair grooming and hair tools such as the comb, was a symbol of culture, pride, and love. Men carved combs by hand, and often present these combs as a gift to his future mate.

“In Africa they braided with coconut oil, and sometimes weaved in Spanish moss from the trees,” Dr. Willie Morrow explains. “Really big hair was important for weddings and special days. They took thread and wrapped the hair in small braids and brought the braids up to the top or back of the head to make a little basket-looking thing. Hair styling was extremely important to specific events like a big hunt, a wedding or going to war.”

Morrow also says that African pic combs are the oldest comb in modern history that’s still used today, but until the 1960s they weren’t made into trade items or manufactured for sale (Morrow himself carved an early prototype and was the first to manufacture and mass produce them).
When the Europeans landed on the shores of Africa to kidnap Africans, everything was left behind including their hair care supplies.
For further research, Dr. Willie Morrow, authored both book and documentary of same title, “400 Years Without a Comb: The Inferior Seed”.
Black women would cover their hair would rags or scarves, due to being made believe that their has was ugly, and that white women’s hair was beautiful.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Annie Malone invented a way for Black women to straighten their hair. Giving free demonstrations, Ms. Malone introduced her product, “Wonderful Hair Grower”, and hair pressing comb, to the Black community.
During and after slavery caused deep self hatred among Black people. The straighter and longer the hair, the better. Garrett A. Morgan, a Black man, in 1910  invented the hair relaxer (perm).

In 1913, Morgan founded the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company. The company’s premiere hair relaxer product, G.A. Morgan’s Hair Refiner, was based on the alkaline chemicals used to straighten hair in his home workshop. This singular product spawned other hair-care products, such as dying ointments and other hair processing creams.

Relaxers must have a very high pH (11 or above) in order to work. Unfortunately, this pH can also weaken your hair and damage your scalp. Historically, relaxers used a chemical called sodium hydroxide (also known as “lye”) to create such a high pH. Over time, chemists found similar chemicals like calcium hydroxide, lithium hydroxide, ammonium thioglycolate, and guanidine carbonate which basically do the same thing. Relaxers based on these chemicals are called “no lye” because they don’t contain sodium hydroxide. But they still expose your hair and scalp to very high, potentially damaging pH.

What is pH? pH is a measure of how acidic or basic a substance is. The pH scale runs from 1 to 14. Chemicals with a very low pH value (around 1 to 3) are very acidic and can be damaging to hair and skin. Chemicals with very high pH (10 to 14) are very basic and can also be damaging.

According to the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association, the Black hair care & cosmetic industry is a $9 billion industry.
In 1999 the American Journal of Epidemiology a study stating, “Several studies suggest that toxic chemicals in hair products may be absorbed through the scalp in sufficient amounts to increase the risks of adverse health effects in women or their infants.” Some of the effects are low birth rate and premature delivery. The studies were on Black women and the effects their hair relaxers might have on their unborn babies. Sodium hydroxide, ammonium, and formaldehyde are just a few named chemical ingredients that can penetrate the scalp skin and enter the body of the mother and unborn baby. Outside of straightening hair, these same chemicals are used as drain cleaners, household cleansers, and embalming fluid.

Additionally, according to the Environmental Working Group many of the chemicals contained in hair relaxers result in those specific relaxers being banned in other countries. Specific brands have been banned in Canada because they contain phenolphthalein.  Phenolphthalein has been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, developmental/reproductive toxicity and much more.

Almost all of the samples of currently available hair relaxers tested by the Environmental Working Group were ranked highly toxic, although limited information was available. Allergic reactions, hormone disruption, immune system toxicity and organ toxicity were four of the main risks.
Going 100 percent natural is a sure way of avoiding these toxic chemicals. There are a plethora of chemical free options available that can be used in the salon and/or at home.
Along with using chemical free hair products, eating an organic vegetarian diet and drinking plenty of water is vital, for healthy hair. Organic navy bean, organic lentils, organic eggs, organic spinach, organic cayenne pepper. Cutting out sugar, meat, coffee, soda. All of these food items have no crucial nutrients and they hamper oxygen delivery from the blood to the cells, including hair follicles.

For more hair growth, a diet needs to include more raw ingredients. Keratin is the protein that hair is made up of and a diet lacking protein can cause hair loss or thinning. Keratin is high in sulfur and therefore your diet should include that as well. Look to foods like organic broccoli, organic brussel sprouts and organic cabbage.

In addition to the protein the hair needs for better growth, a diet needs to have essential fatty acids to support it. Incorporate into your diet flax seed and organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil to get the essential omega-6 fatty acids. Once Black women realize the beauty in their natural selves, that toxic billion
dollar industry, will surely fall.

Pin It on Pinterest