Your hair is alive! Is your mind is free from your hair? Today’s woman of color feel more comfortable about their hair than ever before. It’s a subject that’s been discussed and commented on by African-American women for years. You can see by the hairstyles on the street today that we have come a long way on the subject of hair. The talk about “good hair” and “bad hair” is no longer relevant. When you walk through Harlem and anywhere in the world, you will see women of color wearing their hair as they please. Someone from Washington, DC, commented: “Women of color are loving their hair, but many women are not wearing their own hair.” [ED NOTE: Where did this comment come from? Blog? Direct quote to writer?] And the point is, it’s their choice.

For this piece, we spoke with the masters: haircut specialist John Atchison, owner of John Atchison’s Salon on Madison Avenue; George Buckner of Hair Fashions East, now at Atchison’s Madison Avenue salon; and Paula Dowds, owner of Ms. P’s on West 117th Street in Harlem. They all have several years of hair designing experience under their belts; no one knows better than these specialists about the way women are feeling about their hair today. We also talked with an officer in the U.S. Air Force who’s a mother of young girls. All of their comments were extremely interesting.

Back from Iraq after a six-and-a-half-month tour, Keayana Nicola Minus came home to find that her hair was dry. While she was away, her two young daughters, left here in the U.S., experienced dry hair and hair loss. She immediately began a special regime of conditioning, oiling and moisturizing their hair. The results were significant. Their hair is now growing with a healthy shine. For little girls, it’s important to comb their hair every day. It helps them to feel better about their hair.

“You see so many variations of hair and hairstyles today,” said Atchison in an interview at his Madison Avenue salon.

What’s new in hair today? “Natural hair is big, and so are kinky-curly and wavy-curly hairstyles. Combinations of color and textures are news. The top hairstyles include short or long hair and weave looks that are sewn in, glued in or clipped in,” Atchison said.

Do women still entertain many myths about their hair? “Women are free to express themselves as individuals with their hair. There are so many choices. It’s now acceptable to have color. The show business stars like Beyoncé and Rihanna have influenced today’s hairstyles. Young women want to look or wear their hair like them. So they are being more daring. We are seeing more cuts, highlights for older women, too,” said Atchison.

With weaves, sanitation is very important. Make sure your stylist/technician uses sanitized tools. Sanitized and sterile hair pieces come in a package. You can find hair pieces in a beauty supply store at affordable prices. Remember that with all of the options women have with their hair today, they all come with a cost. You should seek the advice and services of a professional. If weaves are not attached to hair or removed from hair properly, you can suffer some hair loss in the process.

“A new generation of men and women want to get away from relaxers,” noted Atchison. His stylists have adapted to the change in hair attitudes. “We can do anything within your hair’s texture,” he attested. What will it cost in terms of money and damage to the texture of hair, if any? “You can do something with cotton, for instance, that you can’t do with silk,” he explained. It all depends on the hair type and texture you are working with. Different women want different looks. Most women who wear their hair short want to keep it short. Women with grey hair basically want a great shape and style,” commented Atchison.

Women now realize that natural hair takes work. To give your Afro a better shape, try braiding your hair at night or for a few hours and then taking it out. Of course, conditioning and moisturizing are key. Whether you wear a weave, a wig or extensions, you must keep your scalp clean,” stated Buckner, who’s a hair care and scalp specialist. [ED NOTE: Where does this quote start?] Sometimes, you can shampoo your hair too much, which removes your scalp’s natural oils. Be careful and aware of the condition of your scalp and hair. Look out for split ends. For hair growth, it’s all about your diet. Take your multi-vitamins and eat your vegetables. Drink plenty of water.

When asked how women feel about their hair today, Buckner replied, “Women are free to do what they like to their hair. They are not being dictated too. Weaved hair is the biggest trend for all women. Older women are cutting their hair very short to ease daily hair maintenance. Caring for your scalp is extremely important.”

Folks seem to forget about the health and upkeep of the scalp. Think about how perspiration and build-up affects your scalp, especially in this hot weather. Be sure to cleanse your hair often. Hair has a tendency to grow faster in the summer. “Your at-home, day-to-day maintenance of your hair will make a big difference in your hair’s health. You simply must condition and moisturize your hair often. Your scalp must be stimulated,” advised Buckner. “If you must wear a wig, the lace-front hairpieces are best. Make sure your scalp gets air,” Buckner recommended.

What’s the biggest complaint from women today? “In many cases, women are not satisfied with their grey hair. These women need to come to the salon and work with a professional colorist,” he suggested. About “good hair” and “bad hair,” Buckner said, “There’s no such thing. Today’s Black woman understands her identity. She is well past the negative mentality.”

At Ms. P’s on West 117th Street, young stylist Sasha Matthew said, “Maintenance and how you care for your hair determines the condition and look of your hair.”

“Today’s Black women can do what they want to their hair without bring judged,” said Cynthia Richardson at Ms. P’s.

Women have learned how to protect their hair. “While wearing the weave, they are protecting their own hair from perms and coloring their tresses. Hair can be long or short, texturized or straight, in one color or another. Weaves come in all colors, textures and shapes,” stated Dowds, owner of Ms. P’s. She keeps track of the hair trends of young and older women in Harlem. “Hair type doesn’t matter. Women with fine hair are trying to make their hair look and feel more naturally curly. Women with curly hair are trying to make their hair look straight. Some want a light color, while others want darker shades.” Dowds said with a laugh. “The truth of the matter is that Black women have never felt better about their hair and themselves.”