The natural hair movement is gaining momentum in Winnipeg, but it’s slowed by a lack of products and knowledge.
According to Shondell Babb, founder and lead coordinator of the Naturally Gorgeous Curly Hair Event, attitudes toward natural hair are changing.
“A lot of (people) are embracing their curly texture, specifically those with Black or afro-textured hair,” she says.
Kinky or curly hair is worn natural when not relaxed, weaved or chemically altered with products.
Babb, who went natural in 2004, explains that the movement only just started picking up in Winnipeg in the past couple years. Unfortunately, she says, the city is a “product desert,” making it difficult for people to find the products needed to maintain their curly or kinky hair.
Curly hair is prone to dryness, breakage and tangling. Dr. Susan Walker, a naturopathic doctor and the founder and creative director of Earthtones Naturals, explains that the right product and haircare routine are integral to healthy curly hair.
Walker subscribes to curl-typing, which refers to the texture of the hair, the way it curls and its level of porosity.
“Knowing those characteristics, I’m able to create a proper regimen for someone.”
Despite Essence’s 2009 study showing that African-American women spend 80 per cent more on beauty products than the general market, people with kinks and curls still struggle to find products that work with their hair.
A 2016 study by the Environmental Working Group shows that hair products marketed towards Black women are more likely to contain potentially hazardous chemicals.
Walker’s product line, Earthtones Naturals, is sourced from naturally derived ingredients and is made specifically for curly hair types.
The Naturally Gorgeous Curly Hair Event offers an alternative to the dominant beauty product discourse with the opportunity to try different products and network for a knowledgeable stylist.
“There’s a lot of conflicting information online that people consult when they are on their natural hair-care journey,” Walker explains. She decided to create her own line of products after dealing with this frustration and now teaches workshops based on methods she’s refined over the years.
Babb agrees the journey can be difficult.
“I went through those troubles, and I want to help people not have to go through that by bringing them education and products that I know will work,” she says.
There will be two seminars at the event. The first is a demonstration by Walker.
“I’ve put together a workshop on the basics of natural haircare and the best practices that everyone with naturally curly hair should use in order to bring out the best in their hair, to maximize their curl potential,” Walker explains.
The second workshop, run by two master stylists, focuses on children with curly hair and is geared towards parents of mixed-race kids. Babb hopes the seminar will provide guidance for parents, who might not have experience with curly or kinky hair.
The event is open to the public, and Babb encourages anyone interested in learning more to attend.
The Naturally Gorgeous Curly Hair Event takes place on Oct. 29 at the Norwood Hotel. Tickets are $25 per seminar and an additional $5 per accompanying child.