It now seems as if there are people with natural hair, kinky or afro, at every turn.
It is some sort of a growing movement. For the past decade, there has been a “transitioning” by black women, cutting off their chemically straightened hair and embracing their natural hair, kinky and afro texture.
Some are inspired by friends and family members who have already made the switch while others have been forced into switching to natural hair to avoid the alleged chemical straightening kits believed to be harmful to their scalp and skin.
Other researches have suggested that chemicals used to straighten hair could be cancerous, in the long term.
The natural hair “movement” embraces black natural hair that is free from extensions, wigs and/or braids.
Even the well-heeled women in society are abandoning relaxed hair, chemicals and weaves.
Celebrity hairdresser, Craig Rain Magengezha, said there has been a “real appetite” for going natural, which comes with several reasons including cutting costs and the amount of time one requires to ready herself before leaving home.
“It’s a moving trend of African women (going natural). Relaxers in the long run damage the roots, which can cause baldness, hair breakage, scalp irritation and sometimes stunted hair growth,” said Magengezha.
“Without chemicals on your skin, natural hair is thick and full. The natural hair trend varies; even well-to-do women now prefer short hair.
“This is not because of weave costs but to cope with their busy schedules and office times. Some opt for cut and colour and keep it short. Some keep it as afro like Ammara Brown.”
However, Magengezha said not all women have gone natural given some problems associated with their hair line and texture of hair.
Women with chemicalised hair often worry about sweating the relaxer out and they will thus avoid the gym or even partying for fear of sweating.
Magengezha, owner of Crag Studio in Avondale, urged hairdressers to embrace the new global hair trends.
“Over a decade ago, hairdressers offering to do natural hair were rare, but they are now much-sought after women moved away from the weaves and perming chemicals that can lead to hair loss.
“There was also a drive towards heritage, identity and a reawakening that our hair is part of who we are. It’s something that local hairdressers must embrace,” said Magengezha.
Celebrities and nonentities are now rocking natural hair.
Notably, Zimpapers radio personalities, Tariro Mazvarirwofa and Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa, are some of the ladies with huge admirable Afro.
Singer and actress, Ammara Brown, has also been rocking natural hair.
Other prominent figures with natural or short hair include Captain Chipo Matimba, gospel musician Amai Olivia Charamba, UFIC church leader’s wife, Ruth Makandiwa, musicians Hope Masike and Cindy Munyavi, and politician Jessie Majome.
Majome says she is comfortable in her own unique skin and hair.
“I kept it really short and rediscovered just how perfect it was for me. “However, to my pleasant surprise the more I used my Afro-comb, the longer it got and the easier it became.
“Then I decided to do spiked and spirals. A friend called Lynette helped me experiment with a damp towel that she rubbed vigorously in a clock-wise direction in clumps and hair spray.
“It was bold and quirky but I loved it. It was my hair and I had discovered it could do strange and wonderful things. Then a tennis racket became handy to get the spiky look – fore hand off the court,” said Majome.
She said she was referred to a hairdresser called Sekuru Mzee, who is said to be a genius of natural locks of all types.
Sekuru Mzee introduced bees’ wax and hair spray when it was damp and used his bare hand to rub it vigorously into spirals.
Said Majome: “I discovered that our Afro hair is unique — totally unique. There’s no other race with hair like it. All the other races’ hair is the same — long and flows down while ours is gravity defying in its natural even long state. I discovered then that my heroine, the late 1st African woman to win a Nobel prize, Wangari Maathai said; ‘It is time that black women learnt that we are okay as we are’.”
Nyari Mashayamombe, young women and girl’s activist, said natural hair is stronger, extra durable, and more nutrient-rich, sheds less and grows faster than relaxed hair.
Mashayamombe, who is also a musician, said keeping natural hair demonstrates a level of self-acceptance.
“It’s been years since I have been really taking care of my natural hair. Working as a human rights activist, I just felt that I must be natural.
“In 2013, I went to America and got the exposure not to be worried about other people. It’s amazing how they love and admire their natural being. It’s all about acceptance and self-love.
“It makes me feel like I accept myself so much more. Being natural has always been something positive in my life,” said Mashayamombe.
She explained that it wasn’t easy when she first cut her hair but with boldness and confidence now, she can stand and walk head up. Mashayamombe said she can keep her natural hair kinky by rocking a wash-and-go, keep a small Afro, braid it, and tie a bun.
At times, she does dreadlocks.
“That’s a cheap and easy lifestyle because I don’t need to go to the salon and I hated the drier.”
Magret Zinhumwe, a Midlands State University student said natural is easy to wear and economical.
Interestingly, Zinhumwe says natural hair makes her noticeable.
“As a student, I save money with natural hair. I do not need to visit the salon often. It’s an easy wash-and-wear style. Hair relaxers or even good weaves don’t come cheap.
“Women spend a lot of their hard-earned money maintaining relaxed hair. With relaxed hair, you must do a retouch often then there are the many treatments in-between.”
In America, the black hair movement carries some political story.
Black hair and the black body generally have long been a site of political contest in American history and in the American imagination.