5 ways to eradicate texture discrimination from the natural hair community

You probably think the title of this post is wishful thinking! Like most forms of discrimination, the roots are firmly entrenched within society. This natural hair movement has been amazing and empowering but there are some split ends that need to be chopped off! If they are not dealt with…we all know what holding onto split ends can do for the rest of your hair.

It’s no secret all natural hair (of black and mixed women of African descent – there are other mixed race people who do not have African ancestry) is not seen as equal! This has been propagated in mainstream and ‘black’ media including the natural hair community.

This debate is not new. So why are we still talking about it?! We’ve gone over this so many times (I hear you say in your head)! Yes, there have been many blogs and vlogs about this issue but there hasn’t really been much change. This summer the debate was ignited again on Twitter.

The hair texture discrimination debate is entangled with colourism. I understand the connection but there are dark skinned women with loose curls and light skinned women with thick afro hair. I’ll just stick to hair texture discrimination in this post.

Debating hair may seem frivolous to those who think it’s ‘just hair’! However, the by-products of slavery, colonialism and current anti-blackness mean that sometimes it’s not ‘just hair’.

I’ve only relaxed my hair once and when I went back to my natural hair, I didn’t really know how to look after it. Living in NYC, I got talking to other naturals and discovered the YouTube natural hair world and the hair typing system. I understand those who denounce these systems, as they can be subconsciously divisive. They’re only really valuable for companies to target us with products. I can’t lie though, I was keen to know which category I fell into (which is 4c, in case you were wondering). Now I realise it’s important to know my hair and not put myself in a box created by someone else. Historically, when African people (this term will be used throughout this post, referring to anyone of African descent) have been divided / put into categories it hasn’t really been for our benefit!

The debate

This is me:

natural hair, afro hair, 4c hair UK, London

Hair like mine is still considered by many Africans and non-Africans alike as unprofessional, nappy, coarse, tough, messy, [fill in another negative adjective]. Rarely would you see hair like mine used in advertising by brands, even those who ‘cater’ for the natural hair community. On social media, a larger proportions of likes, followers and validation from those outside and within the natural hair community is given to, for example, ladies with textures below.

texure discrmination 1
Source: Instagram
texure discrmination 2
Source: Instagram

There are some kinky hair girls/women garnering substantial followings on social media, but it’s been a slow uphill struggle compared with their looser curled counterparts. It’s ironic that girls/women with hair textures furthest away from European hair were pushed to the back of a movement created to uplift and dispel the negative connotations associated with afro hair. The natural hair texture discrimination debate can rage for years, but we now need practical solutions! Sceptics out there may think that discrimination in general is part of life and will never disappear, but I have some faith in hair.

We used our power to make big brands lose money from chemical relaxers and force them to sell products that suited our hair. We used our power to encourage start-up companies to thrive in a sector of the beauty industry where they never stood a chance. We need to be the change we want to see. We’ve done it before and can do it again.

The steps below are actions for us to contemplate – the natural hair community.

  1. Admit that hair texture discrimination exists
    It’s futile for us (whatever your skin tone or hair texture), to fight and segregate ourselves. We’ll never benefit from self-implementing divide and conquer strategies that were/are used to oppress us. However, if you benefit from a biased system without acknowledging it, you are part of the problem.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King Jr

Despite your privilege, you can still speak up. It’s the denial or silence from African / mix-raced women (of African heritage), with mainstream ‘acceptable’ hair textures, that contributes to dissention about this issue. Yes, we all have struggles and insecurities, but it’s fair to say it’s not all the same. Just acknowledge that. It’s not your fault that society perceives certain hair textures (those closest to European textures) to be more beautiful than others, but dismissing the issue or saying things like, “women with afro hair should just be more positive” is a very simplistic POV.


2. De-colonise your mind (it’s not easy but is possible)
We’ve all been conditioned to covet European beauty standards, for hundreds of years. There’s nothing wrong with complimenting women who have loose curled hair (compared to your own), but if you have tightly curled / kinky hair and dismiss women with a similar hair type, then you are also part of the problem. It indicates that you still aspire to European beauty standards without accepting or wanting to know about your own hair.

Words are powerful. Whether used in context, in love, in hate. Psychologically we’re already wired to associate certain words as positive or negative. Nappy, coarse, wiry, tough, messy. No matter how you try and spin it, using negative words about yourself, twists the knife a little deeper into your insecurities.  You’re letting others know how you view yourself. Let’s try and use positive affirmations. I will never describe my hair as nappy! Despite the volume, it’s actually delicate and soft (when I moisturise it). Rather than focussing on what your hair can’t do… ‘no ‘defined’ curl pattern’ blah blah blah; focus on what styles look good on you and rock them with confidence.


3. Understand your healthy hair journey
Along mine I’ve also learnt, just because someone has a similar hair texture to me doesn’t always mean we can use the same products. Yes, hair porosity is a good thing to know! It revolutionised my moisturising game and my hair thanks me for it every day with less breakage.

Don’t be lazy! Many naturals have told me, their hair is too hard to maintain and they just can’t handle it. Like most things in life, learning about something involves trial and error. YouTube was my saviour when I started, but I was also curious about my own hair, I bothered to make an effort to learn about one of my most prominent physical features. Treat your hair well and it will thrive inspiring you and others not to be low key embarrassed of their own hair texture. Do it for the culture!


4. Hold brands to account
In the social media age this is a lot easier to do. Shea Moisture and Cantu brands have encountered the wrath of the natural hair community this year, with the former making a public apology.

Remember, hair brands are businesses and go where the money is! If they see only certain hair types receiving validation and adoration, they will only showcase women with those hair textures in their advertising. It’s a logical strategy. However, if we continue to let them know we don’t like that they only show specific hair types, when women with kinky hair also make significant financial contributions to them they will start to show diversity in their branding. Also, fight for the ‘little guy’ who’s fighting for you! The natural hair movement has empowered many female-owned beauty product businesses to start up. These cater directly to us, keeping us at the heart of their ethos, so we should support them financially if we like being catered to and not regarded as an afterthought.


5. Teach those around you to love all textures
It’s not far reaching to say that many African / mix-raced men (of African heritage) show contempt towards kinky hair textures compared to others. They have also been conditioned to admire European beauty standards. We should teach our fathers, brothers, sons, nephews, cousins and other African men and boys around us, by example that all hair textures are beautiful (if we believe that of course)! Last but least, constantly teach your mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces and other girls/women around you to fall in love with their hair. One of my favourite Instagram accounts does with well in the video below!

Honest conversations are being had by the natural hair community, like in the documentary below by LAMBB, sponsored by Treasure Tress. However, hair texture discrimination will take some time to unravel, unless we are all determined to implement solutions rather than divisive strategies.

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Easy African hair threading for natural hair

African hair threading has been used for hundreds of years to style and protect afro hair. Raised in the UK; child of Ghanaian parents, my mother threaded my hair from ages 6-10 years. A hairstyle technique used by my grandmother and her mother before her. Many African women on the continent and in the diaspora, probably had this technique done on their hair at some point during their childhood.

Admittedly from age 11+, growing up in the UK, I didn’t appreciate the benefits or beauty of hair threading and stopped using the technique. Then the natural hair movement of the 2000’s kicked off! Many black women (including myself), embraced their natural hair texture. Learning all the new hair terminology that came along with understanding my natural hair, I also realised that my hair doesn’t like heat. I rarely blow dry my hair (probably 2-3 times a year – if that), but having 4C afro kinky hair, I usually wear stretched styles and make sure my hair is stretched after washing, to avoid tangles.

Sometimes I just embrace shrinkage (always liberating), which is best for certain styles, like wearing my afro out.

4c natural hair, afro hair, curly hair, natural hairstyles, how to grow natural hair, how to grow 4c natural hair, curly hair, length and retention


Like many 4C natural hair ladies, I use the traditional technique of African threading to stretch my hair without using heat. If you’d rather avoid or cut down on the use of heating tools, why not give it a try?! This is the type of thread I use, not sure if it has a special name, but it’s smoother /silky than normal yarn thread. You can use whatever thread you can get your hands on.

african hari threading


This video from Green Beauty explains why stretching is a useful technique for natural hair.

If you haven’t tried it, I’d recommend trying the African threading technique to stretch your hair. For me it produces similar results to a blowout. Below are some videos on how to do it yourself, from some of the YouTubers I follow. As always make sure you don’t pull your hair too tight!


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4c natural hair, afro hair, curly hair, natural hairstyles, how to grow natural hair, how to grow 4c natural hair, curly hair, length and retention, natural hair blogger


INTERVIEW: Treasure Tress – product box for Kinky Curly Hair

I was frustrated with the lack of quality products for natural hair and the poor customer service experienced when buying products. So I took things in to my own hands and started TreasureTress UK in November 2015, says Jamelia Donaldson, Founder.

I met Jamelia at an African Technology Business Network (ATBN) event focussed on up and coming online businesses. Jamelia was on the panel and I thought the concept of her business was perfect for my blog, so I asked for an interview to find out more! It wasn’t easy to match up our schedules so we settled for a telephone interview. On a cold January night in London this was the best (and warmest) option.  Despite her car being broken into (but not stolen), Jamelia still showed up for the call, so we jumped straight in…

Women are at the forefront of this latest natural movement; but children seem to be at the heart of TreasureTress?

Initially TreasureTress was supposed to be for young girls because I wanted my niece to grow up knowing how to take care of her natural hair. I only learnt how to take care of my natural hair at university and didn’t want her to wait that long before feeling comfortable with her hair texture.

“We focus on young girls as a starting point for everything we do. There is already lots of  natural hair information for women. Young girls are growing up in an era where they are susceptible to social media; which also represents an opportunity to engage them to celebrate natural hair.”

A TreasureTress Mini-Me

Who else does TreasureTress cater for?

There’s a monthly ‘Mini-Me’ subscription box for young girls, aged 2-9 years.  After so much positive response from older women we expanded the range, creating two additional boxes for ‘Tweens’ aged 10-18 years and for the ‘Qweens’ aged 19 years and older.

After high demand, Tweens and Qweens were added.

How does TreasureTress work?

You can subscribe throughout the year. If you order your box before the third of any month, you’ll receive it within that month, otherwise it will come the following month. It’s a rolling subscription, renewing every month but you’re notified about this via email. You can cancel or pause your subscription at any time, so if you’re on holiday or don’t need products each month you can pause and continue later. We also educate, by sending weekly newsletters and information cards.

“The relationship with our subscribers is quite intimate; there’s a constant dialogue”.

What products are in the TreasureTress boxes?

I have regular conversations with our subscribers about what they think of the service and useful products. Based on the feedback, I decide which products go into the box each month which usually comprises, a shampoo, conditioner, two styling products such as a gel and oil/serum.


Beyond the subscription boxes, how do you engage with your customers?

Last year we launched the Mini-Me VIP Tea Party, for ages 2-11 years. We invite mothers and their daughters to central London for Afternoon Tea. It’s so nice for young black / mixed-race girls to experience having Afternoon Tea with their mothers – something they may not do regularly. We also discuss hair and do product demonstrations.

Our Mini-Me VIP Tea Parties, sell out all the time. Mothers have said how positive it’s for their daughters to be in an environment with other little girls who look like them, celebrating their hair.

Why the name ‘TreasureTress’?

It’s a play on words [‘treasure chest’]. I want women and girls to treasure their tresses / hair. Getting to know your natural hair and discovering new products is an adventure. When you think of treasure: luxury, gems, gold and diamonds come to mind and I want our subscribers to value their hair in the same way.

What’s the TreasureTress ethos?

Our tag line is ‘the hunt is over’, we’re helping women find products that work for them, through a luxurious customer experience. A lot of thought goes into the box presentation.

“Growing up, I was always obsessed with hair but didn’t have access to the products and YouTube wasn’t around back then”.

Do you operate only in the UK?

That was the idea, but we now have subscribers in the Middle East, America and the rest of Europe, especially France.

Do you work with British haircare brands?

We work with British and American, established and new brands. I use brands that I’m familiar with and tried myself. I’m always on the hunt for new brands and ask for samples to try before recommending.

“I had a few years of being a product junkie, which set me up perfectly for this business!”



The main highlight of running TreasureTress?

There are so many, but is has to be the Mini-Me VIP Tea Parties.

The biggest lesson you’ve learnt?

Trusting my instincts. I worked in finance and tried to build TreasureTress at the same time, but I knew finance wasn’t my purpose. I was saving money and set a deadline of when I’d be working for myself and be in charge of my own time. I stuck to that deadline!

What’s in store for 2017?

Hopefully more collaborations and there will be more Mini-Me VIP Tea Parties.

We’ll be launching our first event for teenagers (Tweens) in April this year, it won’t be a tea party but we’re still working on the format. We’re not hosting hair events just for the sake of it, there’s always a deeper message behind what we do.


You can keep up with all the TreasureTress events and get 10% off your first months subscription box, using my special discount code ADIASPORA.

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How much do we know about afro/curly hair?

Knowledge is power!

I have what is classed as “4C” afro hair and been natural for over 10 years. Before then I experimented with weaves, braids and relaxers. I decided to go natural after realising my hair was “allergic” to chemical relaxers (self-diagnosis!).

When my hair was relaxed it was ‘easier to manage’ but I noticed a lot of breakage. Yes, I said it – ‘easier to manage’. I’ve used that phase in reference to my chemically relaxed hair and I regret it.

I was ignorant.

I was ignorant about my own natural hair, because I didn’t take time to understand it! Even when I went natural, I still didn’t really understand how my hair works. Only in the last 4 years, I’ve taken time to understand my hair and I’m still learning (due to its versatility). Now my natural hair is ‘easier to manage’, because I understand what it likes.

I remember hating water touching my hair became I was scared of shrinkage. Now I know water is my hairs best friend and shrinkage is to embraced.

The great thing about the ‘natural hair movement’ –  there is so much information out there (which can be overwhelming at times), so the journey is always an individual one, involving trial and error. I’ve learnt that even if someone has the same hair texture as me, products they use may not always work for me.

We all have differences in opinion on what works for natural hair, and some information may seem contradictory. It’s up to you to test and decide what’s right for your hair. 

If you have any advice or tips, please share in the comments section as we all learn from each other. Finally, some last tips on maintaining moisture – a must for afro/curly textured hair.

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