I agonised about the topic of the final blog post for this year, and I truly had a range of topics like:
1. Five things I wouldn’t be doing to my hair in 2023
2. 3 things I wish the hair community will stop saying
3. Serving the community and not exploiting hair loss
4. The danger of medicalising black hair care
5. Why hair growth products are still going strong?
Can you see?! I always have something to say. And as I settled to draft a heavy blog, I suddenly changed my mind. I am tired of the heavy blogs and my heavy Instagram posts. Since I joined this space, I have increasingly felt like a nag, nagging you to care for your hair so that you can prevent the type of hair loss I suffered. Nagging you to put your children on the right path because where I see teenagers and twenty-somethings heading is not good. It is not good at all. And hair loss can be emotional painful, to accept, to deal with and the cost of rectifying damage!
I am slightly tired of nagging you to be discerning consumers and to stop falling for quick fixes and hair growth products. Nagging you to understand the differences between the many qualifications out there; Hair coaches, Trichologists, Dermatologists, Cosmetic Scientists, Toxicologist and understand where everyone’s expertise and biases lie. Ethics and professional conduct keep many in check, but it is wild out there! no one knows all these subjects! no one!
This year, I have seen Trichologists overreaching into areas they simply cannot. Declaring certain ingredients as growth products, making proclamations on ‘toxic’ ingredients when their training simply doesn’t cover anything related to toxicity. We even had a Dermatologist declaring Sulphates as dangerous, other Dermatologists checked him quick. The type of checking that rarely happens within the black hair community for many complicated reasons including this perception that black-owned businesses shouldn’t be criticised or challenged.
I fear 2023 will be worse, with the economic climate and a squeeze on consumer spending, people will start doing more wild things!! We will see the growing medicalisation of black hair which I have been talking about for the last two years. Some ‘professionals’ will push you towards unnecessary services. I know it is already happening. Someone on my hair course asked Shirley Macdonald who is a consultant Trichologist, if we should all have our scalp assessed as a matter of routine, perhaps once a year, my heart sank, I thought Shirley was going to say yes because it served her own business interest. But she said No. Emphatically and without hesitation. She said and I paraphrase -“Get your scalp checked out professionally if you have a problem or see anything concerning, or if your hairdresser notices something, if not I prefer to see those who need it”.
And just like that, my faith in many professionals was restored. Ethics and keeping conflicts in check matter. She could easily have said yes and signposted to her clinic. Some of you will say it doesn’t matter, if she sees their scalp and gives them the all clear surely that is good. No, it is not. Firstly, they will be spending money they don’t need to spend, secondly, it feeds into the anxiety I am seeing developing around hair. This notion that there is a medical condition waiting to be diagnosed, and that there is something inherently more complicated in black hair care specifically. And there is not. Disease of the scalp or scalp issues still affect only a minority of the general population, these are the people that need intervention and help. On my hair course, there will be about two or three who need to see someone and whom I signpost. I want those who have an issue to get help from the best experts. But I am concerned about selling useless services. More importantly, these useless services are also a distraction from the real work that needs to be done amongst black women; simply styling, washing regularly and minimising intricate braids, weaves and styles that stress the scalp, in other words, learning not to do the most to our hair!
Can you see! I have the tendency to lean into heavy subjects!
Let me end by celebrating afro-textured hair! This year I literally freed myself from hair goals! I had none. Because you must ask yourself, when is it enough? Some achieve the length they want, then they say no, it’s not about the length, it’s about the density! Or no, it’s not about density, it’s about the health! When is it enough? When will you just enjoy your hair, accept your hair, work with your hair, and most importantly stop lusting after every other hair on the gram.
So this year, I literally said more enjoyment, more freedom, more ease. 1t worked really well for me, There was a hiccup or two, yet I will take those hiccups any day over turning my hair into a deity. I wish you the same in 2023. Beyond just hair, I wish you more enjoyment, more freedom, more ease and perhaps most importantly, more acceptance.