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Celebrating World Afro Day 2022

It's All About the Fro

The brainchild behind this empowering celebration of the afro is Michelle de Leon who saw the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights endorse the first World Afro Day in 2017.

Michelle de Leon, founder of World Afro Day

Since its conception, World Afro Day has gone from strength to strength as it works tirelessly to remove the negative connotations of women with natural hair.

So What’s It All About?

"It is a day of 'change, education and celebration of Afro hair and identity' according to de Leon. And the buzz is real.

From app games, books, workshops and a (live/virtual) platform for women (and men) to showcase the many examples of different ways to wear natural hair – World Afro Day is a must!

For others, it’s a global day of celebration for the beauty and versatility of kinky, coiled or curly afro-textured hair.

5 Fun Facts About Natural Hair
  1. Simply put, natural hair is not tough, it's soft. This is due to its varying curly textures and must be handled with care. Natural hair is different from chemical-free hair. Chemicals damage and weaken the hair shaft. Not only that, natural hair is not homogenous; it comes in different forms e.g. kinky, coiled, wavy and curly etc. and that’s why we can wear it in so many different styles.

  2. Natural hair tends to be drier and less oiler. When transitioning there will be two types of texture i.e. the roots will be natural and the ends damaged. This is why most people just go for the ‘big chop’ in the beginning. But don’t worry, it does grow back! Hair care maintenance can be very expensive because the recommended products tend to be limited if you live outside a major city.

  3. Thankfully, bloggers, educators and the internet is making it more accessible to purchase specific products. Many small businesses have sprung up catering to this niche. They are providing in-demand natural, home-made products and these entrepreneurs are making a healthy profit.

  4. Believe it or not, for some, natural hair means it might take longer to get ready. Going natural means, you have to be patient and don’t give up the journey too soon! You will make mistakes and it will feel like a challenge. For many, it’s too easy to get in a rut and go back to the ‘crack cream’ to straighten or perm their hair. By planning your hair care routine, you will find maintenance gets easier.

  5. Natural hair needs to be hydrated because the hair responds differently to changing seasons, swimming, hormones, stress, diet etc. And guess what? Yes, natural hair shrinks and that’s OK. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!

From Education to Empowerment

Eloise Clarke talks about the challenges of managing her hair growing up.


Finding a hairdresser who could cut and style curly hair has been a constant struggle. DON'T BRUSH MY HAIR WHEN DRY! Or find products that don't cost a bomb. There's so much misinformation on the internet about what products to use it's a minefield.

I'm sure every curly girl can relate to the numerous half-used products sitting around the bathroom that left your hair looking awful.

Even now the prices for curly cut and specialised hair products are extortionate compared to others.

However, we are slowly seeing more high-street brands offering affordable options for curly hair, so we're thankfully moving in the right direction.


Why is World Afro Day Important To You?

For years women of colour have been told their natural hair is 'messy', 'unprofessional' or simply 'less attractive' than western standards of beauty.

World Afro Day subverts those toxic messages and instead celebrates the wonderful diversity and unique beauty of natural hair.

It's a day to reclaim our power and show the world that Afro/curly hair is just as beautiful and just as deserving of respect; making the world a more welcoming and inclusive place for generations to come.

The Big Hair Assembly

From across the world, children will be joining together in a celebration of hair, identity and equality.

The event aims to change negative attitudes towards Afro hair into positive inclusion.


This event will be hosted by highly acclaimed presenters and the keynote speaker this year is Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson, the scientist behind the Gold Series from Pantene.

2022 highlights include: Big Hair Investigation, STEM Panel, Slido Stars, Afrospirational careers, demo, Afro Master Quiz and music finale. For more information visit: https://www.worldafroday.com/the-big-hair-assembly-2022/


Working with Styles

We sit down with award-winning stylist Michael ‘Styles’ Hay. Whether it is a simple look or a flamboyant wig or braids, he’s the man to go to.


Going natural means you need to be educated and have a greater over-standing of what it takes to maintain it.

I believe World Afro Day is important because we as a people must not forget especially where they're coming from and our heritage and history of Afro hair.

I believe the mistakes and misconceptions of natural hair is that maintenance needs to be uplifted and boosted.


For example, much more emphasis needs to be placed on treatments; moisturising reconstructing treatments to name a few.

Don’t underestimate the importance of why moisturising needs to be done.

Based on my experience, I have found that many clients are using oils and not moisturising. I cannot emphasise it enough; they need to moisturise and oil their hair and scalp.

Michael has been offering a range of Level 1 (Introductory level; Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications to help those looking to brush up on their education, techniques and styling.


Known as the 'Hair Doctor' Michael continues to produce creative designs for his fashionista client base.

The Business of Hair

In my professional opinion, the term “natural” means different things to different people, and often in different regions of the market.

For some, it is non-chemically relaxer hair, for others, it refers to the ingredients often used in products or a braided style.

Scientifically even blow-drying, colouring, anything that changes the hair from is ‘alpha’ state, will cause the hair not to be “natural”.

However, there is little getting away from the fact that in recent years, afro consumers have moved away from chemical hair straighteners, and relaxed hairstyles to braids, hair extensions and what I call the ‘freedom’ of your own curly hair.

It always excites me to see a neatly puffed out afro, walking proudly down the street or the texture of someone’s authentic curl pattern freshly defined, complimented by a fashionable statement and a confident smile.

But as a hairdresser, I know it takes more than product, to get that result.

On the commercial side, the growth of products that market themselves to the “naturally” curly hair consumer has not necessarily been about the product, but more about the marketing story, often the founder's story, that resonates with a consumer and intern influences a sale.


These products are often premium priced, socially promoted and seen as a solution to a customer’s hope and desires for their hair, which is the tools you need for a good business.


But don’t be displaced in thinking, that products coined for naturally curly hairstyles are all natural made, with authentic natural ingredients or that they are here to stay.

Chemical hair products are reported to be on the rise in the US market as consumers there, now look for softer, more manageable hairstyles that chemical products offer the perfect solution to, now is about wavy hair.

Is There Room for New Companies?

As a retailer of beauty products, we have always supported smaller, micro-businesses with the opportunity to develop and grow their respective brands. It is how I first got involved with PAKS Cosmetics in the 1990’s.

We have also mentored and supported a large number of diversly owned beauty suppliers, finance investments and hedge risk in order to market goods and services to a wider audience. It is not something that we hold as a policy within the business, it's something we do to help those whom are passionate about supporting our business be it in store or online and the millions of customers that we serve.


Why is World Afro Day Important?

My career in beauty has been, and is all about afro hair.

From my days as a youth hanging out with Dyke N Dryden and Supremes Hairdressers on West Green Road in Tottenham, in the 1970’s to qualifying as a cosmetologist in Los Angeles and working in a Afro salon, led by the Dyson family who invented the comb attachment that we today see on the end of a blow-dryer; to teaching afro hairdressing with the godfather of British Afro hairdressing, Winston Issacs at Splinter Salon in London.


I have by default, experienced first-hand the journey of afro hair, the industry, the products and the trends, and I am proud to know, through my position at PAKS Cosmetics, and our partnership in the US, to be able to develop my own ranges of afro hair products and with them the distribution opportunities with the likes of Morrisons, Sainsburys, Tesco and even Target in the USA, to allow afro consumers to be able to purchase afro hair products conveniently.

A day whereby we get to celebrate the freedoms of Afro hair and overcome challenges of afro hair history, it’s a good hair day!

For more information about PAKS Cosmetics visit: www.pakcosmetics.com

CelebTalk
Derek Clement, Stylist, Entrepreneur, Educator

Celebrity stylist and award-winning entrepreneur; educator and creator of the K77 range of hair products and books; Derek Clements gives his views on World Afro Day.

You have to love and appreciate your own natural hair to be a good stylist today.

I believe it’s important that we do not buy into the new paradigm regarding different afro hair (Hair Chart) types "TEXTURISM". This is tantamount to delude and rule.


In short, the natural stylist ought to perpetuate this language to his clients.

Hair is either fine, medium or thick. This applies to all hair types whether it's Afro, Asian or Caucasian.

In short 1A to C EUROPEAN; 2A to C; 3A to C and 4A to C AFRO. We are at the bottom of the chart sadly. 4c is coiled, 4a is wavy. Thus, it’s TEXTURISM.


A good natural stylist must educate and empower his or her clients.


Afro hair has had a turbulent past, such as TIGON LAW, PENCIL TEST, AFRO-PHOBIA etc... these were responsible for the SELF-HATING attitude that existed among our people Today we are awoken and self-loving.

World Afro Hair Day is about women's renewal and empowerment. Moreover, it sheds light on our 9 ether melanated, packed with electricity afro hair.

Mini Me CEO's are on the Rise

“Natural Biankha and CEO Biankha are positive examples to young girls of who they are and who they can become” explained Charlotte Francis, mother of this rising star. This is why the celebration of World Afro Day is important.

Charlotte Francis was dismayed when her daughter kept coming home suggesting that she wanted to replace her natural hair with ‘yellow hair’.

Disheartened by this they went on a mission to find a doll that represented her daughter and found supplies lacking.

This gave her the idea to start a doll and animation company which represented her daughter and many little girls like her.

A new business was born and Francis made sure that Cali Cato became the Mini CEO and face of the company Biankha and Friends.

The business aims to educate and encourage young girls to embrace their culture and heritage, whilst succeeding in our modern and ever-changing society, through dolls, role play, books, animation and everyday items.

For more information visit: https://www.biankhaandfriends.com/

Battling Two Hair Types

Nicholas Sowter is a nine-year-old boy with natural hair that has the characteristics of afro hair but the texture of caucasian.

Nicholas Sowter

His hair journey is not without challenges but this has made him more resilient and he has decided to keep growing his hair with much pride.

Looking to launch his modelling career he has been described as Androgyne. Androgynous: This is typically used to describe a person’s appearance or clothing as having elements of femininity.


He has unintentionally role-modelled that being proud of his individuality is far more fulfilling than trying to blend with a crowd.

Some children confided in him that they also want to look different, and his laid-back and none nonjudgmental attitude about his own image has given them some inspiration and strength to try something different.


Nicholas believes his curly hair helped him to shape his personality, and even served as a source of inspiration to others.

He believes his hair is far more interesting than talking about the fact that he has had to try different products as his hair doesn’t fall in the Afro or Caucasian category. Watch out when he hits the catwalk sporting his fro.

Is Black Hair Still Being Criminalised?

With more organisations banging the drum for creating more inclusive workplaces and natural hair trending in the wider fashion industry; how does this fair for the many Black women (and men) wanting to represent themselves how they want? We cannot still sweep this topic under the rug.

Many of those affected, complain of this debate being over-policed and rooted in unfounded beliefs, stuck in unconscious bias. Nonetheless, this debate embodies and represents a continuous, unapologetic black empowerment struggle with corporate leadership across education, the armed forces and corporate organisations to name a few. Race-based hair discrimination has been illegal in the UK since the Equalities Act became law in 2010, but race hair discrimination is a subject that continues to affect countless Black women and girls worldwide. As we celebrate #worldafroday read the rest of the article at https://www.nbwn.org/blog/the-continuation-of-the-criminalisation-of-black-hair



“Afro is a state of self, of mind and of levity. It’s the spiritual connector between self and my generational commitment. Afro is my life, it’s my footprint and my ancestral legacy”. - Kafele Cruikshank

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