I’ve recently read an article stating that biracial hair, or mixed race hair if you prefer, can be very frustrating. I actually had to read that phrase twice. Humm… What is it about it that makes it so different from African and Caucasian hair? There are a lot of tips and advice circulating the web for this specific hair type. Many of the information is targeted at Caucasian mums who have biracial kids and don’t know how to deal their kids unruly, untamed and unmanageable hair. However, I’ve also noticed that there are African mothers who have biracial kids and seek advice to deal with hair that is different from theirs. Are biracial hair care needs different from those of Caucasian and African ones?
Where Is The Issue?
I don’t like to refer to biracial hair as a specific or different hair type to those many recognise in Andre Walker’s hair type classification because it is after all curly hair. It’s like we’re saying it’s neither meat or fish. That it’s different and once again different is something to be cautious of. It’s not as straight as Caucasian hair and it’s not as kinky, coily and coarse as African hair.
I mean people, hair is hair!! There is no science here! Biracial hair (African mixed with Caucasian or Asian) is curly hair and curly hair is dry, prone to breakage, easily tangled hair that doesn’t reflect light, shrinks and frizzes (I hope I said it all). I think people, women especially, have high and unrealistic expectations about their hair. We always seem to be looking where the grass is greener and never taking care of what we have, that which is ours. If we have thin hair we want it thicker, if we have thick hair we want it thinner, if we have curly hair we want it straight, if we have it wavy we want it to spiral, if its brown we want black… OMG, this is exhausting!
Why is this such an issue? I mean, I get that when your hair is different from that of your kids there is an adjustment period. However, do we expect biracial hair to be more African-like – more dry, dull, prone to breakage? Or more Caucasian-like – more smooth, straight, silky and not so dry? I think this is just part of a social construct about race. People need to have things put into categories to make sense of the world.
However, Caucasian hair has been seen as the standard of beautiful hair. This is why many of us are still relaxing and whatever else comes along to meet this standard. The natural hair movement is here, it looks strong and firm, but there is still a long path to walk. There are many places in the world, Africa included, where there is still a lot of stigmas attached to wearing natural curly hair. Check my post on Natural Hair Resistance – Ignorance or Prejudice? to know a bit more.
Do You Get It?
I don’t mean to drum your head with this matter. Well, actually, I do. I want people to understand and accept their hair, to stop comparing themselves to others. Understand this: because of its nature curly hair is dry, sebum has difficulties travelling along the hair shaft. For this reason, it will never be as smooth as Caucasian hair and it will never be as shiny, even with our best efforts. For it to shine it has to reflect light, something that is facilitated when the cuticle layers of the hair lay flat.
With curly hair, this doesn’t happen because of its shape. In fact, it can bend in a “Z” formation making it impossible for cuticle layers to lay flat and for hair to reflect light, which would make it look shiny. People this is science and common knowledge. African, Caucasian and Asian hair are different from each other. There’s nothing we can do about it and it’s nothing we should be focusing our attention on.
I present to you my personal experience. I am considered mixed race and so is my daughter. However, our hair is different from each other. Mine is thicker and has a looser curl pattern, it can take heavier oils and butters (check pictures on my about me page) and my daughter’s hair is thin, tightly coiled all over and can’t take heavy oils or butters as it is easily weighed down (see pictures bellow). Is her hair better than mine!? I don’t know, you tell me!
Her hair tangles very easily since it is so thin and curly. If she sports a wash and go for more than three days she better prepare herself for some “harm-wrestling” detangling motion on washing day with all the tangles she gets. Additionally, it frizzes more effortlessly than mine and shrinks like crazy(!!). This is my personal experience, yours could be different.
I never compare my hair to my daughters hair thinking that hers is more beautiful than mine. Yes, it’s different and beautiful, but so is mine. We, women, spend too much time and effort trying to have and/or achieve the impossible, instead of working with/for what we have. If we did this, we would be attuned to our hair’s needs and see the beauty in it. Straight hair is straight hair and curly hair is curly hair.
Let’s Move On and Beyond!
Let’s stop comparing and focusing on the differences. Let’s leave behind the labels we are placed into and focus on the needs. Yes, I agree that African and Caucasian hair have different needs, it’s unquestionable. Yes, I agree that there are general characteristics to each. However, as a society (human beings even) we like to compare and compete, it’s probably in our nature.
Let’s just agree that we all have hair and each is unique, even within the so-called groups. No hair is equal, there will be a different combination of shape, texture, density, porosity and elasticity and each hair will have different needs. That is why the same hair product may not work for two people with the same hair type or of the same race.
Straight hair is beautiful, I used to blow dry and flat iron mine all the time. Nevertheless, I also think it can be boring at times (sorry for all the straight haired ladies). Curly hair is more joyful, it comes in many different curl patterns. Probably, as many as there are fingerprints. You can use it curly, texturized, straight, it can be short one day and long the other day, you have endless hairstyles to choose from, I mean… Come on! Where can you have so much versatility? Curly hair is FUN!
Stop looking for the differences in your hair and “hear” your hair’s needs. Trust me, if you “listen” and act upon them your hair will respond accordingly and you will learn to love your hair and not somebody else’s hair.
Do you think biracial hair is different? Is your hair biracial? Do you have different hair care needs from Caucasian and African hair?