After centuries of not being able to properly take care of their hair black women’s hair culture became de-cultured. Black women used axle grease and lard to moisturize their hair. And some tried the new fad of a "heated fork" to straighten their hair, but it always resulted in bad breakage. CJ Walker, who was a washer woman had severe scalp itches such as bald patches, and what can possibly seen as eczema that often led her to scratch her head until it bled.
(Madame CJ Walker Advertisement of her hair care system)
Though CJ Walker, the first American woman millionaire and black millionaire, created an empire by developing a healthier hair care system (not the hot comb since it already existed), the hair care industry today in no way reflects her intentions. An old proverb would say, “She would be turning in her grave” if she saw the amount of damage of black women’s hair. And this is not just in the United States. Walker travelled throughout the Caribbean and Central America, training sales agents and hair stylists to sale and use her products.
Some years back, I spoke to a couple who were in the process of writing a book on hair that I guess they never published because I did not see it. The husband, whose name I cannot think of, told me that black women’s hair a century ago, was 6 inches longer than today! That’s hella shrinkage.
A while ago I blogged about synthetic hair and wanted to follow up with some of the ugly secrets that women who have them will never tell their friends, in particular, their boyfriends; and in the case of black women, especially, their non-black intimate partners, the headache, heartache, and expense of wearing synthetic hair for too long and/or too tight.
(Naomi Campbell's hairline is gone, a case of too much pulling of the hair from the roots due to glue-in weaves over the natural hairline, and probably sew-in weaves. )
The focus of this blog are weaves. I will talk about the predecssor of weaves, which are wigs, on another day.
From what I've researched (and know personally) it does not matter if you have a $5,000 weave/wig or a $5o piece, it is a damaging process in the long run.
I have heard people criticize those who wear locks with an oft quoted saying, "You just didn't want to comb your hair." Ha! Anyone who has locks and is conscious about maintaining them, knows that it is the most intensive hair choice and a spiritual experience that does not compare to any other hairstyle. I applaud the network of sister-lockers who understand the locks is a lifestyle the involves a reawakening and a community of support.
Anywho, let us get down to the weaves and wigs.
The more obvious effects of weaves/wigs is the stunting of hair growth, and in many cases the loss of hair due to the suffocation of the scalp. What makes the situation worse with a weave/wig is the scalp is not only smothered for long periods of time, but it is also slathered in synthetic products such as glue, dye, hair spray, cream, wax, gel, mousse, and all the other hair products that are used for "maintenance".
(Rihanna's short crop cannot hide the fact that her hairline has suffered from prolong usage of weaves.)
In actuality, while the synthetic hair is being "maintained" the real hair is dying a quick death.
To add injury to choking roots, many women get "addicted" to the way they look with long "luxurious" manes, and go for months, and sometimes years without giving their scalp and hair a break so it can breathe. This addiction eventually turns into a necessity because their hair is left in chunks of hair breakage, receding hairline, and in many cases, bald patches that seem irreversible.
Another issue is the pull that weaves do once applied to real hair. Be it a glue in or a sew-in, there is an element of a constant pull that gradually thins the hair. Similar to braids that are cornrowed too tight, weaves and wigs that pull on the hairline and the scalp damage the roots and thin the hair. And if you have a sew -in weave in which the cornrows underneath are extremely tight, followed by the pull of the thread of the weave, your hair will recede faster.
(Lala Vasquez's bold side-shave shows visible baldness from weaves.)
Lastly, women who process their hair then apply weaves increase the chances of loss exponentially than those who have natural hair underneath.
To give you an idea of the damage of weaves, I selected some "notables" in this blog to show you that the price of a weave does not matter.
As you can see, over time, if worn too long, weaves cause your real hair, a tragic death.
Please note: This is just a quick entry on weaves and not an in-depth article. There is much that I was not able to fit in this blog, but I encourage everyone else to do their research and find their own facts to add to the pot.
***Added footage! Our white brother in the struggle, Aron, did a documentary on synthetic hair. He focuses on the African-American hair, but this is a worldwide business of black hair. This is very informative. Please, check it out!***