I think afros are truly awesome. If I see one walking past me on the street, I have to have a serious word with myself to prevent touching/stroking/caressing a stranger’s hair.
But apart from this problem, there's another issue: do you remember that fantastic advert with the model with the amazing coif of Afro hair? No, neither do I. In fact, I’m probably hard-pressed to remember the last time that I saw an advert/magazine spread/billboard for Afro hair care. The majority seem to focus on how to achieve sleek and noticeably straighter hair. Whilst women have every right to style their hair in whatever way they’d like to suit their mood or a particular occasion, the lack of publicity surrounding black hair care seems to imply that straight hair is the benchmark for beauty, which seems incredibly unfair considering such a large proportion of our population possess hair of this type. As the need for such specific hair products is so great, surely there should be a supply to match it?
But it has come a long way. According to hair expert and three-time British Afro Hairdresser Award winner Errol Douglas MBE ( www.erroldouglas.com ): “There’s always room for improvement, but I’ve been in the business 30 years and have seen information on Afro hair really progress in the last decade.”
But even though there has been an improvement, my friends who have Afro hair wish that it was embraced here in the same way as it is in the United States, where a more affordable, nicer-smelling and mainstream selection of Afro hair care products are produced by well-known beauty brands and available in a wide range of shops.
Yet in the UK, black women often find find that they have to make the trek to visit out of the way areas in order to find products that actually meet their Afro hair needs. People I asked visit places like Harlesdon, Finsbury Park or Harrow and get their products from specialist shops such as Pak Cosmetics Centre www.pakcosmetics.com and Juliet's Afro Cosmetics based in Tooting and Peckham. Amazing though these shops are, they are a far cry from glossy high street stores.
As Afro hair care is such a specialist area of haircare, it’s high time there was a greater presence in our magazines and adverts for this market, in order to spread general knowledge and awareness of how to look after it. According to Errol: “Afro-Caribbean hair is literally another continent in terms of what it needs. It’s thicker, drier, curlier and more resistant to the processes that open up the hair to styling options.” Surely this is a gaping hole in the UK beauty market?
ERROL DOUGLAS'S TOP TIPS
Errol says: “The key to a high-end finish on afro hair whatever the style chosen is the on-going investment in its condition. Hydration, hydration, hydration. Without consistency in commitment to conditioning, styling choices are limited”. In particular, Errol places the emphasis on ensuring that you go to a specialist stylist who has the knowledge and expertise to get the most out of Afro hair and thus maintaining and protecting the long term health of your hair.
KeraCare First Lather Shampoo, £4.95, (available at all good salons, stockist information can be found on the KeraCareUK facebook page, www.facebook.com/keracareuk )
KeraCare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo, £4.95