Black-Owned Beauty Month, Day 21: Hair Can Be a Tangled Web

On Day 20, we celebrated Rihanna with a face full of Fenty. As we head into the final week of our Black-Owned Beauty Month challenge, we’re untangling our relationship with hair.
On Day 20, we celebrated Rihanna with a face full of Fenty. As we head into the final week of our Black-Owned Beauty Month challenge, we’re untangling our relationship with hair.
Photo: Maiysha Kai

Black History Month has been loaded this year—for a number of reasons. But here at The Glow Up, we ran into an unexpected snag as we attempted to delve into the hair histories of our team as a special feature this month. Namely, for all the momentum of the natural hair movement and a general acceptance of #blackgirlmagic, there’s often still a lot of trauma and overall fatigue tangled up in our hair.


As I’ve written in the past, although black hair can be playful, it’s primarily personal—and all too often—it’s political, as we’ve seen play out in the United States military, countless businesses and schools, and most recently, in a recent law change in New York City. And while many of us have made peace with the traumas of our tresses’ past, just as many of us would rather leave them behind, in favor of the more texture-friendly time we’re living in now.

And then, there’s the fact that I’m a woman with hair in transition; from long, keratin-treated locks back to my natural wavy-curly texture, which varies between a 2C to a 3B, depending on where on my scalp it grows. Of course, I’m fully aware that my texture has long been considered the “acceptable” type for black hair. I’m also aware that for some, this may make me a less than ideal person to do a deep dive on a range of black hair products—which is why I’m approaching this phase of Black-Owned Beauty Month with what I hope is a healthy dose of humility and a request from our diverse readership: Please chime in on what works best for you and your texture, so we can try them out on the various textures here in The Root crew, and report back with full authority.

But as a woman with transitioning hair, I’m currently dealing with some common issues, like competing textures, dryness, and attempting to find the perfect twist-out routine to camouflage my growing roots. Then, there’s my general laziness, which both explains why I was a keratin devotee and why I’ve decided to forego “the big chop,” despite several previous short cuts. Frankly, I’m not up for the maintenance of the inevitable “in-between” phase; my 10-12 hour, work-from-home schedule loves the option of a ponytail or a bun. Also, my reasons for wanting to go natural again aren’t at all political, but a blend of curiosity, nostalgia for my “big hair,” and most of all, concern for my long-term hair health, since a proliferation of sprouting greys I’m not ready to embrace now compel me to color. Opting for one chemical process instead of two just feels better to me, so here we are.

What does that mean for the products I’ve been experimenting with this month? Well, having long ago embraced the sulfate-free life, like you, I prioritize moisturization and ease of styling; also, what’s going to give me the maximum benefit in the least amount of time? And as black hair products are one of our biggest areas of entrepreneurship, as always, I’m interested in the story behind the story: What inspired the creation of a brand, and how is it feeding our community, our hair, and the dialogue around it?

Clearly, this is a conversation that takes more than a week—which is why we won’t be stopping at February’s end. But we’ve got to start somewhere, so let’s start to detangle the thick and full possibilities of our hair.

The Glow Up tip: Like the look the header shot? Look no further than Fenty Beauty. For Rihanna’s 31st birthday, we designed a look around her new “Undefeated” Stunna Lip Paint ($24), complementing the deep purple color with an iridescent wash of eyeshadows from her Moroccan Spice palette ($59), including “Souq It to Me,” “Desert Baked,” “Nuts & Dates” and a touch of “Evil Genie,” lightening up the look with a light swipe of “Mo’Rockin Ice,” and lining with her Flyliner in “Cuz I’m Black” ($20) All are available at Fenty Beauty.

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?



GIRL. I’m 2c/3b, pretty thin, high porosity, trying to recover from heat/bleach damage at the ends. Getting a devacut changed my whole life, went from straightening my hair 3-4x a week to NOT, and trying to learn what works for my crazy hair. If you’re sulfate-free, it’s really important to make sure you are silicone-free as well, or you’ll get so much build up. The only styling method that I’ve gotten to work is shingling, which I do with devacurl styling cream or living proof curl cream. It takes forever, even longer than straightening it, but my hair is SO MUCH HEALTHIER. It’s worth it. I just wish I could figure out how to get more definition/less frizz without finger twirling all of it, and how to sleep on it and not crush all the curls. I guess it's too thin for pineappling..