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.”
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.
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.
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.