Hair Shampoo-Beyond Black & White

T​extures and properties make up hair, not races. Solicitation and sale of ethnic products is a marketing tactic used to get certain people to buy certain products. If you have hair that craves moisture, try moisture restoring and conditioning shampoos and products. Products in the ethnic aisle, many of us with curly hair can’t even use because they have a lot of grease and sometime inferior ingredients. T​here are many new brands making products that really do help our moisture craving hair, like shea moisture, coconut oils and other Ayurvedic products that add moisture to hair and skin. They don’t say or put a black name or face on the package, only that it is for curly hair.

  The First Difference is their Target

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Y​ou will find that commercial hair shampoos and conditioners are made in the form of creams or gels. They are made up of emulsions or gels, water and detergent base with other added ingredients. The first difference is their target​. Hair is actually a modified type of skin. The main difference between hair and skin is that skin is basically a living organ that replaces its outermost layer . On the other hand, hair is actually dead material obtained from several living cells deep in the skin surface.

                               Basic Ethnic Hair Groups                             

O​ur hair care is much more complex than body care and will differ according to one’s hair type and depending on processes applied to hair. Hair is a manifestation of human diversity. Please note; there are three basic ethnic hair groups: Caucasian, Asian and Black­ Afro/Caribbean. ​The structure of hair varies from completely straight to tight wiry curls and from fine and flyaway to coarse and frizzy. There is also widely different behavior patterns. W​hen you shop for shampoos you must find one that will not dry out the hair like so many shampoos do.

 Hair Care is not Based on Skin Color 

U​se products that work for your hair. For instance if your hair is dry you should use a moisturizing shampoo. Base your product decisions on the ingredients not the packaging. It doesn’t matter if it’s marketed towards black people or white people.

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H​air products are to be used according to the texture, elasticity, porosity,strength, and needs of the hair and individual.

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C​ertain cultures may use some specific products more than other cultures. Women of color, native American women, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Hispanic, Asian, Pakistani, New Zealand, or Greek women all have their preferences for certain products. These are the products used to attain the look and feel they desire. However, these products are also used cross culturally as well.

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S​hampoos have a pH of between 4 and 6. Acidic shampoos are the most common type of shampoos; they do not contain soap and their pH is closer to the natural pH of hair. Due to their pH, acidic shampoos do not swell the hair shaft or strip the natural oils. The scales on a hair follicle lay flat at a slightly acidic pH, making the hair feel smooth and look shiny. Citric acid is often used to adjust the pH down to 5.5. It is a fairly weak acid, which makes the adjustment easier. It also has a small amount of preservative action.

T​here are some specialized shampoos such as anti­-dandruff, natural, baby and animal shampoo. Anti­-dandruff shampoo contains fungicides such as Ketoconazole, Zinc Pyrithione and Selenium sulfide.

The Root of Braiding

Ancient or current, hair braiding crosses all cultures and have spanned the test of time!


The African Cornrow hairstyle covers a wide social terrain. Religion, family, status, age, ethnicity, and other areas of identity can all be expressed in hairstyle. The African cornrow dates back to 3500 BCE. Hieroglyphs and sculptures dating back thousands of years illustrate the attention Africans have paid to their hair.  Cornrows were invented long before the civil rights era in the United States. In the 1950’s, a French ethnologist discovered a Stone Age rock painting in the Tassili Plateau of the Sahara (prehistoric cave art showing evolution of human life) with a woman feeding her child wearing tight cornrows.

Braiding begun as a cultural tradition in Africa. During Slavery the house slaves inside the plantation homes were required to present a neat and tidy appearance, so those men and women often wore tight braids, plaits, and cornrows (made by sectioning the hair and braiding it flat to the scalp). The braid patterns were commonly based on African tradition and styles. The physical act of braiding is also extremely important, it transmits cultural values between generations, expresses bonds between friends and establishes the role of professional practitioner. It is also an opportunity to socialize. There were specific styles that indicated the women’s social standing in the community.

Ancient Egyptian hair braiding was done only for royalty and other ceremonious celebrations such as marriages. Multiple braids with intricate embellishments were extremely common in ancient Egypt. Women of wealth were often seen wearing beautiful, beaded braids and at times, had added extensions. Although ancient Egyptians had a strong dislike of body hair, head hair and beards were the exception. Beards were seen as a symbol of divinity and as a result,  braids were worn on the faces of Egyptian men as well. The “common” people wore simpler braids for practical purposes, such as keeping their hair out of their face while working. Like Africans, ancient Egyptian braided styles were indications of the status of the person – whether royal or common, Egyptian or foreign, etc.

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Native American braids were worn by the men when preparing for ceremonies and war. The women wore braid designs to show if married or unmarried.  Native American hairstyles varied from tribe to tribe in style and cultural significance.

Mongolian braids began in the 13th century Mongol Empire as elaborate headpieces with braids hidden beneath or intertwined with each wing” on each side of the head. These two “wings” were said to evoke mythical beasts – and similar hidden braided “wings” are created by Mongolian women even today.

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European braiding has more than one function. In Europe braiding was used to keep the hair clean and as surprisingly as it may sound some people today still practice braiding when they don’t have time to wash their hair. Braiding was also utilized to keep hair out of the way for awhile.

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Greek Braids consist of wire frames, twisted braids and curls. The more elaborate the style, the more it indicated a woman’s wealth and available leisure time.

                                                                      A Healthy Choice

There is a great variety of braids and braid styles. Having your hair braided can help your hair look amazing, your style can be modified every day. It also protects your hair because it helps prevent split ends. If you decide to braid your hair on a regular basis, you give it a healthy rest from the daily grooming that can be harmful to your hair.

Braiding does not eliminate the need to wash your hair. You should wash your hair regularly when you have braids. Understand that braids don’t have to be tight to be effective. If your braids are too tight it could damage the hair, breaking it and pulling the hair follicle. It may cause headaches as well.