Friday, January 30, 2009

Are White Girls Better with Color?

Recently one of my cousins whispered a shameful confession. "I think from now on I'm going to look for a White girl to color my hair." My cousin wears her hair in a glorious display of natural curls, radiating the colors of sun, copper, sand and chocolate. She's only been coloring her naturally black hair for about a year now and has tried several different salons in Philadelphia and New York to find the person who can give her exactly what she wants. She's not a diva, but she has standards and needless to say she's been disappointed several times and once after a particularly bad coloring session refused to take off her hat for a week!

But now, she's seen the White, er, I mean light. While visiting her mother in Wisconsin, she went to a White hairstylist who did her color for her. And my cousin loved the results. Apparently this woman has been doing a brisk business for many Black women who want to experiment with color and aren't afraid to let a White woman do their hair. Now some people may wonder why would we be afraid to let White people style our hair if we would allow them to color it? That's a really long story that I dare not get into here in this blog post but suffice it to say, this White hairstylist actually told my cousin when she was done with the color, "I really don't know what to do with your hair now. Do you have any ideas?" My cousin did not hold it against her, knowing what she was getting into and happily went home, styled her own hair, loving the fantastic color with its subtle highlights and tints woven through.

So my cousin has come up with this theory that since White women have been playing with color for so long, and I mean really playing with it, whereas Black women tend to use color as a cover up for gray or a drastic change, (blond, pink, magenta), White hairstylist have a professional advantage over their Black sisters. But they still haven't gotten the styling thing down. So now my cousin is in search of a truly multicultural salon where she can get her hair colored by a White girl and styled by a sister.

Does this make sense to anyone else? Me being the laziest hair person ever, who considers the ponytail the most perfect invention of all times and spends very little time or money at the hair salon, finds this a very interesting theory. And it sounds valid. But I'd like some feedback from the Meltingpot village. And if you really do want to understand why all things hair related are elevated to higher levels of importance in the Black community, read my book, Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America (see the link at the right), and/or get ready to watch Chris Rock's latest documentary, Good Hair which just debuted at Sundance and won an audience award.

Have a Happy Weekend!

Peace & Hair Grease!


Rashunda said...

I don't know if I'm remembering this correctly or not, but I believe a white friend who went to cosmetology school told me that black hair styling wasn't a default part of her curriculum. She had to opt to take it. Many of her classmates didn't.

LT said...


I believe I've heard the same thing. But my question is, does coloring Black hair differ from coloring White hair? Is there a difference in technique? product? process? Inquiring minds want to know.

BTW How's Zurich?

Anonymous said...

I am a Hispanis male. I was looking for a barber who would cut my hair, but do it in such a manner that people would not notice I had gotten a hair cut, if you know what I mean. I went to an Hispanic barber, a white barber, then exasperated, I decided to try a black barber. I got a lot of looks from the patrons as I walked in. As the barber started cutting my hair he said "Where did you get this barb wire from?" I guess he had never cut Hispanic hair before. I left disappointed..he cut me just like the Hispanic and white barber did. A military-styled haircut. I learned my lesson. I only go to "hair stylists" now. essa;

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I don't know if there a difference when it comes to coloring.

I am going to a "white" salon for the first time because I cannot find a black salon in Rome that works with natural hair (unless you are braiding it).

We'll see what happens. Two people recommended this woman. She said she has worked with black hair before in London and through doing runway.

Anonymous said...

uh,yeah. White people range generally from blond to reds and most beauty schools push color. My aunt, who was brown but had a warm tone to her skin-(she had auburn hair) had to go to a white shop to have it colored and a black shop to have it straightened. Blacks use to just use 'basic brown'. Im glad thats changing because of the biracial kids