Have you ever looked through the hair aisle or hair section of a store? Let’s use CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Walgreens and supermarkets, in general, as examples. What have you noticed about the isle or section devoted to hair care? Anything?
What I notice is the blaring separation of everything BLACK (as in Black people and their hair) and OTHER (everything hair-related not pertaining to Black people and their “special” hair).
Why create and maintain this separation? There’s a wall up; an us versus them. So, who gets to be labeled “us” and who wears the Scarlet Letter we label as “them”?
Is the hair belonging to a Black or African person so very different from the hair belonging to an Indian, Asian or Caucasian person (and all the other groups I’ve failed to mention)?
The answer is no. Just because hair appears to be different doesn’t mean it is. Hair (in mammals) is composed primarily of keratin and we know from research that keratin is protein. Hair also contains carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, amino acids and a high amount of sulfur along with trace amounts of iron, arsenic, chromium, magnesium and other minerals. So, in other words, my hair is made up of the same things that any Asian, Indian or Caucasian person’s hair is made of. The same things that make an Asian person’s hair grow make an Indian person’s hair grow. Hair is hair.
The misconception that it’s all different prevents us from learning the proper ways to care for hair and I mean all hair. This is why many Black men and women don’t venture out of the Black hair section and why many Caucasian men and women don’t venture into the Black hair care section. Isn’t cheap shampoo cheap just shampoo? If a product sucks it usually means it will suck for everyone. I look at the product and not the color of the model on the bottle.
To separate hair care products according to skin color or cultural background is just as preposterous as separating them into these two categories:
SKINNY HUMANS versus NON-SKINNY HUMANS.
A well-formulated bottle of conditioner works well on hair whether the hair belongs to an Eskimo, a child from Pakistan, a man from Sudan or a long-haired Native American woman. Why? Because all four of these people have hair composed of the same ingredients.
Whether or not someone else’s hair appears to be different from yours, don’t assume it is. “Hair care” should be just that; care for hair in general. Not black hair care products. Not white hair care products. Not “us” on one side and “them” on the other side.
I used “black hair care” products for most of my life. I was told they were best for my hair but the truth is they weren’t. Walking to the “black hair care section” became instinctual. It never even crossed my mind to look in the “white hair care section” (which was the rest of the hair care isle), not even for shampoo. I was brainwashed into believing they were the only products I could use in my hair because my hair was radically different from everyone else’s hair. Funny,when I started choosing hair products based on their ingredients, I finally got what I wanted whereas the “black”products never felt like they were worth my hard-earned an hard-saved money.
It’s a jungle out there and for some of us, it’s hair war. Either way we’re in it together, one shampoo and one conditioner at a time.