A natural choice: Bringing a new state of mind to the black community
The ladies at Naturally U salon want to ban the phrase “Good hair.”
“All hair is ‘Good hair,'” said owner Allison Hayes. “For us, our hair is tied up with our self-esteem. There are so many women who have permed their hair since they were small and don’t have any idea what their natural hair looks like.”
Hayes said the natural choice is very cosmopolitan – something common in the bigger cities, but it’s making its way into the smaller towns and country.
“When I moved back here from Chicago there were no salons that catered to natural hair,” she said. “That’s when I decided to open a salon here that strictly dealt with natural hair care.”
Hayes’ and daughter Ellen “Ace” Allison who manages the salon opened their doors three years ago. Both are trained as professional natural hair consultants and are licensed by the state of Mississippi.
Hayes said getting out of the chemical trap can be hard at first, but that making the choice brings freedom.
“It’s freedom from all the restrictions of permed hair,” she said, “like going swimming, getting caught in the rain or sweating. With permed hair you won’t see a black woman go near water, but with natural hair, the more water the better.
“And, you aren’t tied to the salon. With permed hair, as soon as you see a little nap coming in you have to get it touched up. Nappy hair used to have a negative view in the black community, but now I see a change. Natural is more than a superficial change – it’s a state of mind, and collectively, the mind is shifting.”
Taffie Washington was one of those women who kept a perm. She said Hayes inspired her to go natural two years ago and she’s glad she did.
“People think permed hair is a good thing,” Washington said. “But, my hair was thinning very badly on top and my scalp was burned.”
Hayes and Allison said that maintaining permed hair requires going to the salon about once a month for touch-ups.
Lisa Chatman is just beginning with a natural fro. She has been growing her natural locks for six months and loves it. The biggest surprise for her was how thick her hair actually is. She remembers some of the little things, too that went along with permed hair.
“I can remember trying to sleep like this,” she said, laughing and showing everyone how she tried to cradle her chin on her hands to keep her hair from getting messed up. “You hear people say, ‘Don’t ever touch a black woman’s hair.’ Well, that was me. But a few months ago my hair started thinning badly. I knew I had to do something, so, of course, I just went natural. And, I realized that I actually had thick hair.”
Washington said another plus with natural hair is the cost – going natural frees her from spending so much in the salon and on products that she said are bad for her hair and scalp anyway.
“Another issue is the expense,” Washington said, “but, constantly going to the salon and the products, too. Besides, the sulfates and alcohol are so damaging. And what’s so ironic is that the products I use for my natural hair were there all along.”
Hayes said they advise women to use olive oil, coconut oil, aloe vera gel, glycerin – a natural humectants, and to avoid products that have sulfates, parabin, mineral oil, alcohol and petroleum – “That’s good advice for all hair types.”
To find out more about natural hair, the salon, located at 224 E. Minnesota St., Brookhaven, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Or you can call them at 601-695-8845 or 601-669-4522.