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Women of color: Love your hair

Many Oklahoma women of color are embracing their chemical-free natural hair.
by Heather Warlick Modified: July 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm •  Published: July 25, 2013

Summertime is harsh on all women's hair, but women of color often have a tougher time with the heat drying their scalp and hair. It's especially true when they regularly treat their hair with chemicals.

That's one reason many Oklahoma City women are ditching the chemical treatments to go au natural.

“It's just so much easier,” said Kizzie Ledbetter, 30, a professional singer in the band Adam & Kizzie. The Oklahoma City woman wears her hair in a funky Afro that gets her a half-dozen compliments a day.

Her mother has followed suit, letting her naturally curly hair grow into a short, tailored cut. She kicked the coloring habit, and now her natural, bright white color gives her an exotic and natural beauty.

“She looks so beautiful,” Ledbetter said.

Finding the right style for your natural black hair can depend on several factors, including your hair's health, length and curl patterns, to name a few.

“We get into the habit of putting chemicals and things that are not natural in our hair, and then at the age of 29 or 30, we don't know about our hair. We have to re-educate ourselves on our own natural hair,” said Desiree Irving, a natural hair stylist at The Hair Cafe, 1120 N Walker.

Many women of color straighten their hair with perms or chemical relaxers because transitioning to all natural hair can be a style headache.

For example, if your hair has been chemically straightened and you want to go natural, you'll have to grow the treated hair out. That means your hair will be curly at the root and straight at the end until you decide to cut off all the treated hair.

Afros are a perfect way for many black women to wear their hair natural, sans chemicals and other treatments that can harm fragile strands.

Reasons to go natural

Women's reasons for going natural differ. Some do it to honor their African heritage. Some do it for convenience and others to express their personal style. Some do it because they're tired of abusing their natural hair with chemical treatments.

Ledbetter admitted she didn't exactly choose to go natural. Her circumstances chose it for her.

“I was on a cruise ship performing, and I didn't have anyone there who could do my hair, so I just had to grow it out,” she said.

As it grew out, she noticed how much healthier and stronger it became, largely due to putting less pressure on her delicate hair with chemical treatments.

She's been natural since 2009 and loves her 'fro. She dresses it up with hats in the winter and wears the sides pinned back in summer for a sleek faux fro-hawk.

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by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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