The ‘Expert’ Guide to Afro Hair – or not

Back in September a reader sent me a link to an online feature by Elle called ‘The Expert Guide to Afro Hair’ – Have you read it? With the event and everything else I have not had time to read it until today.

Gosh it was annoying. They had apparently spoken to industry experts about how to care for our hair and as I read through it I was shaking my head thinking “is this really the best advice? Are these really the best products? I hope no unsuspecting sista or young girl is reading this”

Anyway then I got to this section where it said “Having your hair professionally relaxed will make it easier to style straight and into neat curls. “Relaxing is great; it creates styling versatility” says Ursula Stephen, Rihanna’s hairstylist.

*Big Sigh* Are we really still getting messages like this. Is this article saying that our curls are a mess and the only way to have curls is if they are all neat and perfectly formed. 

My thoughts are, whenever you are reading this or any type of hair advice always think to yourself who is writing this and why?  Perhaps they were just writing this to highlight some products and expensive ones that that. What is their opinion of beauty? In magazines such as this its usually quite narrow meaning they usually feature people with a certain dress size and a certain height.  Remember that this is a magazine that the majority of the time doesn’t even feature black women let alone ones without relaxer. So always be careful where you get your information from. 

Saying that relaxing your hair makes it easier to style is quite sad and it represents a type of ignorance of the different forms of hair and beauty. Thumbs down to Elle for allowing such a statement. 

If you want to read it click this link



  1. Oh my gosh, articles with those sorts of comments really annoy me. I found another one earlier this year on a online – and even worse, it was for a Black publication.

  2. I would not really expect much from Elle. I read the article myself and it is definitely geared towards women who relax their hair…..except even for them there are key parts that are missing (like protein conditioners, limiting heat, not relaxing bone straight etc).

    In short, the article is intended to advertise products (see the cleverly placed links)

    Anyway this is why I made my own magazine, why rely on the mainstream when what we are doing is really not mainstream – yet!

  3. It doesn’t surprise me, if I knew then what I know now.. I would have been natural always.. What surprises me even more is that there are many hairstylists that do not know the proper way to care for hair as well. There were many things that should have never been done to my hair. Now I continue to educate myself.

  4. I’m not really surprised that those messages would be put across because just the other day I was browsing the Boots website and under the Afro hair care (or something like that) section, all I could see were relaxers and a few other hair products and I thought…how does a relaxer relate to caring for an afro?!?

  5. To be honest I’m more shocked when black publications provide awful advice. With Elle, it’s sort of understandable because they’re staff are probably majority white and will call up a handful of black celebrity stylists for tips. They therefore trust that the information that these stylists are given is correct because they’re meant to be ‘experts.’ Clearly these experts don’t really have a clue. Just because you’ve styled Rihanna’s hair doesn’t mean your advice would be appropriate for every black girl. I’m still alarmed at the amount of mis-information from black magazines on afro hair care; we can’t expect mainstream mags to get it right if our own haven’t managed to.

  6. I read the article, they are some good points, but the product, they recommend are expensive. It would have been good if they talked to people who wear their hair natural.

  7. These sort of comments about afro hair are all too common. Also find latest TV advert for 3 day straightener offensive as refers to “fixing curly frizzy hair” making it “go away”. These products are not for afro hair but message is the same. I would never relax my hair again. I love my hair. It is healthy and feels really soft. Thanks Aveda! IT IS ALSO GROWING! No more breaking hair due to relaxers. I went on a job interview for a beauty therapist job with my “natural hair” and have been called back for a second interview. I just wish “celebrities” would stop relaxing their hair as well. Nothing wrong with having blow dry/straighteners now and again to straighten just for a change but why put horrible chemicals on our hair. Not to mention the smell!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think you were a bit fast to jump the gun with your article. I read the article and relaxing is given as an option not the only choice for black hair.

    Some of the advice was good – like afro hair does not shine due to its curls, whilst some was awful – washing your hair and mashing it into detangling hell.

    Also the main picture was of a woman with natural or at least crimped hair.

    I don’t buy magazines anymore black or white as they ignore natural women, any black woman that buys Elle is wasting her money.