Search This Blog

February 8, 2009

Natural Hair Does Not Equal Healthy Hair



Hair Myths.

Natural hair is healthier.- Don't think so. Just because your hair is natural, does not mean it is any healthier than relaxed hair. Natural doesn't equal healthy. You can still have the most beautiful natural hair, and it can still be as unhealthy as ever. Teen.Confessions

I had to post this hair myth, because I'm so annoyed at all the wasted arguments I see people get into on blogs over natural vs permed hair. People just need to get over it, having natural hair does not equal healthy hair. If you want healthy hair you have to take care of your hair, its just like our bodies. If you want to be in good health you have to eat healthy (fruits, veggies, etc), exercise ( yoga, running etc).

For those of you who need help on obtaining healthy hair, here are some blogs to check out.





35 comments:

FeministAbroad said...

I think I have to disagree on some level. Natural hair is not always healthy, thats true. I have seen unhealthy natural hair. But just by the definition of what is in a relaxer, I would say anything that has those chemicals in it, is unhealthy. My opinion. It's like saying all people who eat healthy food are skinny. Thats a lie. But say two people are both the same weight and height and one person is eating from the health food store and the other fast food restaurants. I think the person eating from fast food restaurants is more likely to be unhealthy just because of the intake of the chemicals in the food. Whether or not they are overweight or not. So, for instance. I had a relaxer when I was younger. My personal belief is that it was unhealthy the entire time I had it. Even though the hair might not have been damaged, it still had an affect on my health in various ways.

But I never argue the health thing when it comes to Black hair. Well I suppose. Im much more political when it comes to the debate.

Dana said...

i half agree with your article. natural hair can be unhealthy and you still may have to deal with the breakage and dry hair like a relaxed woman would. but when you put a chemical in your hair you have to do a lot more to maintain some type of healthiness to your hair. i think people believe that natural hair is better because once you go natural you don't have to deal with a lot of issues that come from straightening your hair

Ebony Intuition said...

Thats it though, people assume permed hair is unhealthy when in reality no one has ever been able to show proof of it. If it's so unhealthy then why isn't it banned?? Has anyone heard of Japanese perms that are actually far more harmful then perms black women use??? How come no one complains about that???

This is not directed to the ladies who have commented, this is just directed to anyone in general.

The main point of my post is that i'm tired of the debate because in all reality no one has ever met a black women who has 1. died from perming her hair. or 2 been diagnosed with some form of cancer from perming their hair.

Now if people can show me proof which I know nobody can then I would change my agrument.

My hair has only permed for a short time during my life, from when I was in grade school from like grade 6 until grade 10 was the last time I permed my hair. And it didn't do anything harmful to me at all, so this whole notion that its so harmful is really false. WHY BECAUSE NO ONE CAN PROVE IT.!!!!


"but when you put a chemical in your hair you have to do a lot more to maintain some type of healthiness to your hair."

Like what please explain??

My hair is natural, I still have to wash it, condition it, moisturize it, trim my ends, deep conditioners, hot oil treatments, that's a lot of work to me, so again I don't see the difference.

Anonymous said...

Hair is hair, its all in how you maintain and keep the hair that determines if its healthy or not. So weather its perm or not, its how you keep it.

Ebony Intuition said...

"So weather its perm or not, its how you keep it."

Dido.

Dana said...

When i was referring to it being unhealthier i meant for your hair. now the whole debate about the chemicals seeping through your brain that's another debate. and to me when i had a relaxer i had to do more to maintain it because the chemical in my hair was so drying. and yes i still have to wash condition deep condition and trim like a relaxed women would but to me its still less of a concern for my hair. i was tired of the sores i would get in my hair the heavy breakage and all those things. even when i put the perm in correctly it still did that. so i think it depends on the person. You do what works for u. but i hear so many black women complain about breakage and bald spots and its because of the chemicals and heat they put on their hair.

Some hair can withstand a perm some cant. so yes ive seen plenty of women who have great hair and still straighten their hair either through relaxer or press. but that is what works for them.because hair is hair it still needs to be maintained either way. but in my opinion natural hair is healthier for some people and it doesn't make any difference to another. this is why i said i only half agreed with your article

Ebony Intuition said...

"Some hair can withstand a perm some cant."

Dido. My mom also only permed her hair for a short time in her life, like for 3 years her hair never took to perm, same with mine when I was younger.

" but i hear so many black women complain about breakage and bald spots and its because of the chemicals and heat they put on their hair. "

I agree this is true, but balding and breakage can still take place with natural hair. At the end of the day its all about maintence.

Dana said...

yeah find what works for you and maintain that and everything will be good. Oh and by the way i love your blog.

Ashe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alienation said...

Yeah, you're absolutely right. I see unhealthy natural hair all the time, because in order to have healthy hair black hair needs moisturizing constantly. It's not that our hair is "hard to manage", it's that the beauty industry continues to focus on what makes white hair healthy. White hair looks oily, stringy, and gross when it's not taken care of. But shampoo and most other products were invented so white women wouldn't have to deal with that.

Perming is not any more/less harmful than hair dye. In fact, I see many fried blondes walking around. Yet no cries of "damage" or "Self hatred" is ever applied to them. Crash dieting is unhealthy, and many women diet. So is hair remover, deodorant, vaseline, tampons and douching.

FeministAbroad said...

And I disagree again. lol. Cigarettes kill and their not banned here. Alcohol kills and its not banned here. I am in the United States I should say. So just because something is harmful doesnt mean its going to be illegal. Skin whitenening cream is legel in many places. Or you can still buy it off the internet. And let's be honest, how much money do companies make off of Black "Beauty" products a year? Billions. So no, I dont think their in a rush to ban ANYTHING for Black people.

I can agree on one thing. No matter if its relaxed or not relaxed, Black hair needs moisturized. The more chemical in it, the more it needs moisturized. I just believe that. Even if you have natural hair and you only color it you still have to moisturize more. So Black women that have colored, relaxed hair are going to have to do way more than say someone with just natural hair.

I have had relaxed hair. From I dont know what age (and thats sad because many Black children arent given the option) to the age of ummm..shoot..I am going to say 16. I know the differences between my hair relaxed and natural. If I forgot to moisturize my hair when it was relaxed, it was waayyy worse than when it was just a fro. Thats just one example to me. And I know so many other Black women that have had the same experiences. Natural hair certainly isnt an easier upkeep but I do believe you have to do less to maintain its healthiness. Come on, were talking about serious ass chemicals. Relaxers are just serious.

Whats more important is that the MISUSE of relaxers, which happens too much, is whats reallly serious. Any many people dont have the facts. Sad and true.

And something else. Anything that can put SCARS and BURNS and SCABS in your hair if you leave it in for lets say 5 or 10 minutes too long has to need a particular kind of upkeep. You cant food around with chemicals without being careful and thats why so many Black womens hair is damaged. And thats why I believe by definition it is unhealthy.

Ebony Intuition said...

@ Dana- Thanks.

"White hair looks oily, stringy, and gross when it's not taken care of."
Very true, I work around tons of women from Europe and most of them don't take care of their hair, several of them do.

"I see many fried blondes walking around."

Lol yup I see it all the time too actually I saw it last night when I went out to dinner. One of the servers her hair was dyed plantium blonde and her hair was very dry.


Yet no cries of "damage" or "Self hatred" is ever applied to them.

Exactly, I see countless women of european descent or women of other ethnic groups with damaged hair but no one says anything.

FeministAbroad said...

Sorry, you cant fool. Not you cant food. lol.

FeministAbroad said...

I dont think anyone is yelling self-hatred at fried out blondes because they are changing their hair color and not their texture and also they are white so thats another dynamic there. Well, it can be "self-hatred" because of giving into society's standards of being a blonde (if they werent) and on that level, I have certainly heard discourse about that.

Oh and IIIII scream damaged. I will be the first. Damaged hair is damaged hair. I thought this topic was the argument about natural hair versus relaxed hair. I dont care what kind of hair it is, if its damaged I am going to tell people it is damaged. White, Black, Yellow, Brown, no matter what.

And I have a dorm neighbor from Holland and I just told her the other day she colors her hair too much and thats why its a little damaged. And shes white. Dutch.

Ebony Intuition said...

@ Feminist Abroad

"Cigarettes kill and their not banned here"

This is the point, there are plenty of things out there that are bad for people but people don't jump down throats of people who smoke or ridicule them.

I've been on some blogs and have seen women talk about other women who perm their hair as if its a contagious disease that will spread. And will literally tear them apart for no reason at all.

Why should a "black" women always carry a burden when they do something with their hair?

When I braid my hair and take my braids out the texture of my hair changes so being ridiculed for changing hair texture is useless, because hair texture always changes.

Also if people are so worried about hair texture changing then why are so many people having children with people of european descent, the hair texture of the child is going to change. If the child continues to mix generation after generation the hair texture will be gone, hasn't anyone seen tiger woods child, umm yea check it out, no curly hair but no one is ridiculing him. lol

Plus no one complains when "black" men change their hair texture, so its a double standard.

Ebony Intuition said...

"and also they are white so thats another dynamic there."

You mean they are european, why are european women allowed to do whatever they want without carrying a burden.

European women have always longed for curly textured hair.

"Historically, caucasian women have wished to have wavy or curly hair which seemed more attractive than the more common straight hair. Attempts to curl it by wetting and winding or tying with paper produces only superficial effects. "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perm_(hairstyle)

Research folks. lol

Ebony Intuition said...

At my work place there is an Italian women who has super curly hair, but I never knew she had super curly hair because she always wears her hair straight. I found out her hair was naturaly curly because I looked at her security pass to get into our office.
The East Indian lady who sits beside me also has naturaly curly hair, I never knew her hair was curly because she always wears it straight, I only found out because she should me pictures of her trip to Mexico and her hair was yet.

Women of all ethnic groups change their hair texture but we are the only one ridiculed for doing it.

Chic Chocolate said...

Interesting post. I went to a Natural Hair Show about a year or two ago. When the Mistress of Ceremonies talked about wearing natural hair and when a few of the audience members who got up to discuss their own experience with wearing their hair naturally, I could definitely see that taking care of natural hair and chemically treated hair takes just as much work. To me, personally, your hair can be healthy either way. It's how you take care of what you got that matters most. ANYTHING worth having has to be taken care of. As a black woman, I wish so much that we could stop all of the petty arguing over skin color and hair texture and natural hair vs. permed hair. It's really useless and pointless. We need to accept that we are a beautiful people in all of our splendor and quirkiness! When are we going to embrace each other and stop the infighting among us? 'Cause when you break it all down, we are all in the same boat and God doesn't favor one over the other. Let's learn to embrace what's uniquely ours.

Ebony Intuition said...

Thanks for your imput Chic.

And I agree that's why I have no problem at all with women who choose to perm their hair. I myself am natural, but I weave my hair in many different styles, I braid, I twist, I do whatever I feel like. And everyone should be free to do what they want with their hair.

If most people would reseach their history they would see that what we do now is nothing compared to what we did centuries ago.

Also if most people would look outside of America (im in Toronto)they would realize that everyone of African descent does not have the same hair texture, it ranges from very loose to very curly.

That's why i've never had an issue with how people wear their hair because i've always known that we don't have the same hair texture to begin with.

Alienation said...

"Oh and IIIII scream damaged. I will be the first. Damaged hair is damaged hair."

Okay. But this is not the context I was referring to. I was referring to people who are "damaged" as in issues, not damaged hair. This whole "health" thing is done to force women to do something. Since it's "wrong" to be concerned with women because aesthetic. It's "wrong" to imply that women who are a size two are "better" than women who are normal, but if we say "skinny" is "healthy", than we can "pretend" to be concerned with health. This also applies to the abortion issue. ("abortion is harmful to the female body" but no one is overly concerned with the "health issues" and psychological torture that come with raising a kid you don't want).

Cigarettes, sugar, caffeine, and fried chicken are unhealthy. But WHY are so many people "concerned" with the health of black women's hair? hmmmm

High blood pressure, a broken heart, stress and financial burdens come with being a single mother. How many people actually "warn" black women about dealing with black men who are subpar with standards of other men? Why do their "concerns" with health not transcend to that issue?

But hair, now THAT'S more important than all the issues I stated above right? Yeah. It's not.

Are there any "healthy" cosmetics? Isn't it true that "non natural soap" dries out the skin and makes it unhealthy? Isn't it also true that vaseline clogs the pours and prevents unhealthy skin? Yes. How come hair is still the main issue up for discussion and "concern"? Why does this conversation about "the dangers of relaxers" the only conversation that people seem to care about? It's because "natural" black women don't want to be natural by themselves. They either guilt or "health" talk black women into going natural so they won't have to compete with straight hair. In my opinion, it's a mildly self-serving argument. They are deeply insecure about being "natural", and wish to use the health argument to prevent black women's personal choice.

There's no race of women that do NOT straighten their hair. Why are black women constantly the targets of this talk anyway?

Alienation said...

"As a black woman, I wish so much that we could stop all of the petty arguing over skin color and hair texture and natural hair vs. permed hair. It's really useless and pointless."

I agree 100% Chic. It is pointless and kind of "shallow". If we focused on uniting black women instead of discussing "natural" vs "the miracle danger of relaxers" we'd be much better off.

Ebony Intuition said...

"High blood pressure, a broken heart, stress and financial burdens come with being a single mother. How many people actually "warn" black women about dealing with black men who are subpar with standards of other men? Why do their "concerns" with health not transcend to that issue? "

Amazing point no one warns us that "hey see that man over there, he will play victim in order to use and abuse you and will leave you with 3 kids to raise on your own, but people will warn you about a simple box of perm!! Perm is not important , unprotected sex is harmful, sexual abuse, rape etc now those things are harmful and cause damage.

Thanks everyone for your comments and input!!!

Everyone please tune in tomorrow for hair and beauty across the ocean from ethnic groups in Africa.

shenitra said...

....somehow adding a lye-based chemical to some part of my body doesn't seem like a "healthy" thing. Maybe we should resarch LYE and the effects of LYE on the body, and LONG-TERM effects of LYE on specifically the hair....could it spell out baldness, breakeage, or is it that I need a LYE chemical to make my hair more "healthy" than it already is. Please educate me more on the health-benefits of LYE.

Ebony Intuition said...

@ Shenrita

Im not stating that LYE is healthy for a women, what im stating is that why is this the number 1 health concern for "black" women.

If I was to write a post about hiv/aids which I have I will not get 23 + comments on the page.

"could it spell out baldness, breakeage"

Baldness and breakage can take place to a women's hair even if she does not perm it, so again this whole notion of perm being so harmful is false. Its just a way to ridicule "black" women. Women of all ethnics groups straighten their hair but no one would dare say anthing to those other women.

Alienation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alienation said...

"Amazing point no one warns us that "hey see that man over there, he will play victim in order to use and abuse you and will leave you with 3 kids to raise on your own, but people will warn you about a simple box of perm!!"

LMAO!!

"Baldness and breakage can take place to a women's hair even if she does not perm it".

Exactly things like AGE and Alopecia are proof of this. Also, stress is a HUGE factor in hair loss. If you think "lye" is responsible for breakage, you should see what the stress of raising 3 mouths with no financial support will do to your hair. Also, if you think "lye" is bad, try the inner city garbage that is fed to black ppl that prevents us from getting enough vitamins to promote hair growth. (Yes, vitamins. Beta Carotine, biotin, Vitamin B 12, soy protein, etc., all double hair growth.) I've met so many black women who've figured this out and now take vitamins. It's interesting that they wouldn't before, but now that they realize they contribute to "hair growth" they take them. But then again, "healthy hair" is being forced at black women as opposed to holistic health, then no one really cares about keeping black women healthy. I have met many black women who survived incest, rape, and abandoning "baby daddy's" and no one "warned" them about safety. But chronic lye use never killed anybody and I hear about it 5000x a day.

As I said before, this is an issue that is more important to "warn" black women about, never mind "warning" black women about REAL issues that endanger their very lives.

Shenitra said...

Ebony Intuition...

Yes, I can understand how the issue of natural vs. chemically altered goes as debatable issue in black communities, but what I'd like to know is how do you correlate LYE with healthy hair? I am sincerely trying to understand how LYE affects nappy hair, besides the obvious straightening factor, but moreso the actual proccess that our hair and scalp go through when we apply LYE to that section of our natural bodies. Does LYE naturally weaken nappy hair? Does it replenish any natural vitamins,etc? I truly think it's a fallacy to allude that LYE has NO effect whatsoever (harmful OR beneficial) to the overall health of naptural hair.

Ebony Intuition said...

@Shenrita

If perm is over used or left on too long yes it will damage your hair.

Like i've mentioned prior my hair was once permed, if you saw my natural texture it looks like i've never permed it before. Hair will grow back, the natural texture of your hair will come back. When transitioned from permed to natural, it will take time unless one chooses to cut it all off and grow back freshly, or just wait till it grows out.

But it will grow back !

When I grew my perm out years ago, I pretty much just cut my hair, and my hair is now longer natural then when it was permed. It will grow back.

Fly Girl said...

Sorry, I have to throw my two cents into this because I feel it is a serious issue. Ebony, you're right, there are a lot of hurtful judgements hurled at black women that perm their hair in our community and it is unfair. Straight hair doesn't necessarily mean you're self-hating. However, I do have to say that there are studies that have shown that perms are extremely damaging and unhealthy. I did a feature story on the topic a few years ago for the Chicago Sun Times and talked to a leading black dermatologist and read research about the topic. Nappturality still has the story on their site: http://www.nappturality.com/modules/wfsection/article.php?articleid=102
The dermatologist who has treated black women for hair loss for over 30 years, states that glues, tightly pulled hair and perms lead directly to hair loss and that he is performing an alarming rate of hair transplants because of it. Studies done on perming are relatively recent so no definite conclusions have been made but the research does show again, that the chemicals are not healthy for the scalp or the body. Any reputable hair stylist will not perm a woman's hair during preganancy. That's because the chemicals do seep into the body. Just because there hasn't been enough research to consclude anything definite doesn't mean it's okay. I've interviewed doctors who have stated that they have seen the skulls of deceased black women glow with a flurorescent light from years of perming. That can not be good. That stated, it doesn't mean that you can't straighten your hair with heat and maintain healthy hair, it's the chemicals that are unhealthy. I have locs and before that I had my stylist style my natural hair with heat. I did have a perm for years before that and never liked the unhealthy feel the chemicals gave my hair. As a natural hair sista, I never judge or look down on anyone because of the way they wear their hair, I'm not in a position to know if it's for variety, self-expression, health or trendiness. But I do know that there is not enough education about black hair care and the effects that products have physically. Is it as serious as HIV? No. But I believe it does contribute to the overall unhealthiness of many black people, men as well.

Ebony Intuition said...

Thanks for your input Fly Girl.


"Ebony, you're right, there are a lot of hurtful judgements hurled at black women that perm their hair in our community and it is unfair."

This is one of my main issues with the topic of natural vs straight, rude/hurtful and demeaning comments are always made towards women who choose to perm or weave their hair and that is unfair.

My hair is natural I do weave my hair, but yet women who look just like me will demonize me for wearing a weave but yet i have a full head of healthy natural hair.

"However, I do have to say that there are studies that have shown that perms are extremely damaging and unhealthy."

Yes your correct there are studies, but when I see people discussing hair issues they never bring up these studies like you have instead they will mention "oh your trying to be white" , "oh you want hair like a white women "etc etc.. so again most people who are the ones demonizing other women can't bring the correct facts to the table like you have.

"That stated, it doesn't mean that you can't straighten your hair with heat and maintain healthy hair, it's the chemicals that are unhealthy."

Exactly there are alternatives to perming hair, like the ones you've mentioned.

"Is it as serious as HIV? No. But I believe it does contribute to the overall unhealthiness of many black people, men as well."

Its no where close to hiv/aids, but hair is always at the top of the list (alien nation mentioned) which really bothers me.

People should be spending more time dicussing hiv/aids and prevention then ridiculing a women on her hair choice.

Again thank you for your input.

Rosaxe said...

Interesting discussion. But some people's comments here assume that there are only two races in the world, white and black.
What is white hair? All white people do not have straight, silky hair, and everyone with naturally straight hair is not necessarily white.

I think the argument of self-hatred and ridicule tends to be within the black community. I've heard a number of stories of employers specifiying "no ethnic styles" in the workplace (an annoyingly vague phrase, but dreads, braids, afros) because I guess relaxed hair looks more professional. Pfft.
Alienation - I had no idea about vitamins. I will try that!

Ebony Intuition said...

@ roxase

"All white people do not have straight, silky hair, and everyone with naturally straight hair is not necessarily white."

Thank you, there are thousands of ethnic groups on this earth, not just African and Europeans. This is why I dislike that we still continue to refer to ourselves by what Europeans have labled us.

The European women I work along side do not have striaght, silky hair.

Every ethnic groups has a range of hair textures.


"because I guess relaxed hair looks more professional. Pfft."

In Toronto, I personally have never had a problem with the way I wear my hair, i've been hired with my natural hair, weave, braids, cornrows. twist etc. So I guess this really depends on the company and the person hiring .

Thanks for your imput.

Berneta said...

Ebony Intuition, just in response to your question about why perms aren't banned if they're so unhealthy for us, there are a lot of things that are unhealthy for us (proven or not) and yet they are still perfectly legal. Why? Because we live in a capitalist society and if it sells, there's no way it's going anywhere (look at cigarettes). And, for black women, perms sell like hotcakes. So your question was sort of beside the point. Perms are unhealthy for your hair, period. A person who has permed hair has less healthy hair than a person with natural hair, although this is not to say that the person with natural hair has healthy hair (just healthier by comparison).

Ebony Intuition said...

@Aliennation

"Yes, vitamins. Beta Carotine, biotin, Vitamin B 12, soy protein, etc., all double hair growth.) I've met so many black women who've figured this out and now take vitamins."

I agree, every since I started taking vitamins about 2 years ago my hair has grown a lot and is still growing.

"But then again, "healthy hair" is being forced at black women as opposed to holistic health, then no one really cares about keeping black women healthy."

Good point, because our overall health is important not just the health of our hair.

I've been reading into holistic health a lot from books by queen afua.

"As I said before, this is an issue that is more important to "warn" black women about, never mind "warning" black women about REAL issues that endanger their very lives."

Exactly, women may have natural hair but still put their lives at risk by having unprotected sex, or addicted to drugs, or staying in a relationship with an abusive man.

Ebony Intuition said...

@Bernata

"Perms are unhealthy for your hair, period."

So is unprotected sex but people still have unprotected sex but that is not a # 1 issue that black women talk about, even though they are being affected by it the most.

My post was not soley based on if perm was healthy or not.

And yes I know that there are many things that are unhealthy for us (I don't know why people continue to tell me this, I already know), but no one ridicules people for smoking or insults them for smoking, no one insults people who use chemicals to clean their homes, no one insults people for all the other harmful things that people use on a daily basis that are unhealthy for us.


But people still continue to insult and ridicule women who choose to perm their hair.


My point proven .

ShareThis

ShareThis
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin