*There is so much history regarding black hair care. In honor of Black History Month, Dr. Linda Amerson (pictured), board certified trichologist, shares some important facts about just how far we have come with technology, product formulations, and effective treatment therapies. The hair care industry is a billion dollar industry. We salute our pioneers who paved the road to such economic success!
Q: What was the first kitchen utensil used by slaves to comb their hair?
Dr. Amerson: A table fork, because this was all they had.
In present day: A variety of combs are used which include: detangling, picks, wood, rattail, etc. Furthermore, hairbrushes are used to style and finish a person’s hair. Weekly cleaning of grooming tools is recommended.
Q. What was the first kitchen utensil used by slaves to curl their hair?
Dr. Amerson: A table knife heated on the stove, because this was all they had.
In present day: Technology has advanced where hair rollers, pin curls, and curling irons of various types, are used to achieve a curly or wavy hair design. Silk or satin caps are also worn to preserve the hairstyles.
Q. What did the slaves use as a dry shampoo to cleanse their hair?
Dr. Amerson: Cornmeal, grits, and powdered charcoal, because this is all they had. They were very resourceful people.
In present day: Hair care companies offer various types of shampoos to cleanse the hair including: shampoos for color treated hair, dry, oily, volumizing, chemically treated, hair thinning, hair restoration, just to name a few.
Q. Why were head and body lice a major problems for slaves?
Dr. Amerson: This was a major problem, because the slaves had to sleep in barns on the hay where the animals slept…further transmitting the lice to their hair and body.
In present day: Thank God for mattresses! Head lice are almost unheard of in the African American communities, because most consumers sleep on mattresses…furthermore, for scalp conditions and Alopecia, consumers will seek the expertise of a board certified Trichology.
Q. What type of product did slaves use on their scalp as an oil?
Dr. Amerson: Warm bacon grease.
In present day: Many hair care manufacturers offer a variety of soothing scalp oils to lubricate and moisturize the scalp. The ingredients used are of a high standard from consumer needs and requests.
Q. What type of water did the slaves use to rinse their hair?
Dr. Amerson: Dishwater, because it was believed that the nutrients in the dishwater would help with healthier hair.
In present day: Thank God for a filtered water system! A few consumers prefer rainwater when they can get enough of it, yet most consumers are able to achieve clean hair and scalp from a filtered water system.
Q. Was braiding of the hair in certain braid patterns symbolic to female slaves?
Dr. Amerson: Yes, a woman wearing her hair in a certain braid pattern was often symbolic if she was in mourning, getting married, a high priestess.
In present day: In American, wearing a sculptured braid design is not symbolic, but is considered a creative way of wearing braids. However, in Africa, many tribes still maintain their culture by wearing symbolic braid patterns, specific hair color, feathers, hand crafted hair accessories, etc.
Q. Where did the male slaves receive their hair cuts every Sunday morning?
Dr. Amerson: On the front porch.
In present day: We have Barber Shops and Hair Salons who offer haircuts by licensed professionals. Sanitation and Sterilization Laws are enforced to protect the public.
About Dr. Amerson
Doctor, educator, columnist, radio and television personality and international lecturer, all these things describe Dr. Linda Amerson, a doctor of Trichology and world-renowned expert on hair and scalp disorders. In addition, she is the manufacturer of Dr. Amerson’s ™ Hair, Scalp and Skin Therapeutic Essentials, LLC. For more information, visit www.hairandscalpessentials.com
Tanya R. DeVaughn
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