photo by Tumani Onabiyi
                 Habesha New Year Festival in Oakland   photo by amira ali
                       Home [away from] Home Festival photo by amira ali 
                       Hair artist: Rabiia Utsey, at Home [away from] Home Festival photo by amira ali 
                       Hair artist: Rabiia Utsey, at Home [away from] Home Festival  photo by amira ali
                       Home [away from] Home Festival


The Art of Hair as Adornment by Amira Ali.

In many African cultures, a woman’s hairstyle has often had varying social implications – mattering both socially and individually. Traditionally, in many African cultures, hair was usually dressed according to local culture complying with aesthetical standards. Beyond adornment and the aesthetics of identity, in cultural aspects hair has had a sacred element perceived as a substance with “supernatural power and spiritual import”.   

Often, cultural beauty, health and identity are intertwined - even in contemporary societies. In today’s highly globalized world deeply impacted by history, the politics of Black African hair, especially in western spaces, has many multi-layered social implications that can be both complex and deeply politicized. Outside of its traditional significance and the appreciation of beauty within whatever culture a specific hair style or type is standard, African women’s hair has and continues to be subject to shallow judgments and critique based on mainstream media’s Euro-centric standards of beauty that comes from the “ubiquity of whiteness”. Nevertheless, it seems that times are changing as a globally penetrating movement towards reclaiming one’s own authentic beauty continues to express itself through women in both Africa and the Diaspora. As adorning the head takes on the face of (re)claiming identity by purely wearing hair in its natural state of Afros and hair braided styles, the entire world is slowly having no option but to reframe their approach to the inherent beauty and diversity of black hair.

The tradition of braided hairstyles, predominantly in the Northern, Eastern, Central and Western African customs of hair grooming, date far back. “Depictions of women with cornrows have been found in Stone Age paintings in the Tassili Plateau of the Sahara that have been dated as far back as 3000 B.C.” History also reveals, “male styling with cornrows can be traced as far back as the early nineteenth century to Ethiopia, where warriors and kings such as Tewodros II and Yohannes IV were depicted wearing cornrows.”

Culturally, with its traditional significance, adorning the head implies more than merely a hairstyle of conevenience. Often pointing to the socio-economic status and characteristic of the wearer, as well as the link to the wearer’s culture, “the cultural significance and roots of braiding can be traced back to the African tribes. The braid patterns signify the tribe and help to identify the member of the tribe.“

Though many of us are unsure of the cultural significance and meanings of braided hairstyles today, and whilst many have been adapted to suit the styles and habits of women through time, customarily braid patterns or hairstyles illustrate “the significance of hair among various African cultures as an indicator of social status and religious function, a symbol of age and authority, a traditional aesthetic element or a statement of contemporary style, a substance with supernatural power and spiritual import, and an object of beauty and adornment”. In ancient Egypt, it is said that hair braiding was reserved for royalty and ceremonial rituals like weddings.

As braiding styles continue to gain popularity in the present, hair grooming, for the most part exposes modern age artistic designs that borrow from the past. In some African cities and parts of the Diaspora, though some of the cultural implications of hair such as braiding for ceremonial purposes such as weddings, and rites of passage rituals, patterns that signify ones ethnic group, and perhaps wealth and status, have been retained; for the most part, the traditional significance is less salient.

In the current trend, using synthetic or human hair, if possible, the wearer finds the most artistic braider or artisan of style that can sculpt a ‘do of the wearer’s choice. In general, sporting a braided style appears to be more of a fashion affirmation; while fashioning the body – physical appearance – is employed for self-expression and sole identity formation, with the exception of those who adorn themselves based on the conduct of a society, community or social group they belong to.  On the flip side, for some people of African descent residing in the Diaspora, braiding are considered as forms of “protesting standards of Eurocentric ideals of beauty, and both maintaining and retaining their links to Africa and African cultural traditions – claiming ancestral memory”.

No matter the meaning or purpose for how braids are worn, there is one universal that remains consistent in relation to hair braiding. The process of braiding offers a climate for the intimate exchanging of stories, and of bonding from one generation to the next, or between the worlds of the braider and client. It is symbolic to where women ritually share hushed or not so hushed stories in these spaces. In that way, hair has always had it’s own stories.

(via makeupartistsofcolour)

I am going to be bleaching my hair for the first time next week, and my stylist told me to get a hair mask and use it at least 3 times before my appointment. Any recommendations? I'm totally new to this part of hair care!

Asked by

Aw you’re gonna pop your virgin hair cherry! (I savor that horrible wording so much.) I’ve been dealing with bleached hair for about 7 years now so you’ve certainly come to the right place. Here are my selections for you. 

  1. One of my favorite hair colorists in NYC actually recommends you using straight up cholesterol on your hair rather than more expensive salon masks. It’s pretty great, I’ve tried it. It’s also super affordable. Queen Helene sells it for $3.99 for a big tub. 
  2. Kerastase hair masks are pricey but….I honestly love them so much, and they truly are phenomenal. They’ve really saved my hair from bleach hell. 
  3. But on the more affordable side, Neutrogena  has deep conditioners I’ve tried and really liked. I went through 2 tubs of this one before I got bored.
  4. After deep conditioning, you might still want to use a leave-in conditioner or hair serum. I like the Dove leave-in serum a lot. 

Let me know if you have any more questions! Good luck bleaching. 

HOW TO: Super Simple Summer Protective Style Hair
By Sade

Hello everyone! I’m Sade from In My Sunday Best, and I’m here with a super quick and super easy hairstyle for summer. This can be done on any hair type, and could be modified for shorter hair. I’m in the process of growing my Natural hair out so I have to keep my ends protected and tucked away majority of the time so I’ve become quite creative with my updo’s. Protective styling doesn’t have to mean boring buns all the time!

I’ll keep my words sweet and simple as it’s a pretty self explanatory tutorial. Firstly you’ll need a couple of hair pins (I used about six) and a summery headband, but don’t worry if you don’t I’ve done this hairstyle plenty of times without a hairband and it’s turned out just as nice (here and here). If you’re using a headband, you’ll need to securely place it over your head with your hair framing your face, and simple roll and pin your hair over the sides and back of the headband, leaving a few tendrils out to give it a bit of an undone look, and voila you’re done! How easy is that?! This is usually my go to style for everything if i’m in a rush as it can be made more professional or laid back with some more pins and headbands. Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and let me know if this is something you’d like to see more of on Powder Doom!

Guest Post for Powder Doom by Ire at unrully

1. Start by pulling your hair up into a ponytail.
2. Divide your ponytail into three sections. The section in the middle should be smaller than the other two.
3. Braid the middle section and clip it out of the way.
4. Twist each of the two remaining sections around itself and secure the ends at the base of the ponytail using a bobby pin.
5. Bring the braided section forward and secure it underneath the rest of the hair using a bobby pin.

Visit Ire’s blog Unrully for more incredible tutorials 



It took me a long time to figure out a successful detangling method for my hair. I have used wide tooth combs in the past and they worked well for me, but I have found that finger detangling causes me the least amount of breakage and doesn’t take a lot of time.

I always detangle on damp hair, wet with a spray bottle with water. I also add a mix of coconut oil and a detangling conditioner (currently using ‘Luv Naturals Don’t Be So Clingy’) as needed. I detangle my hair working in sections, about 10 sections on my whole head.

There are three main things I do when finger detangling -

  • Separating the strands - This is the first thing I do to separate any parts of my hair that are clumped together. This gets rid of the big tangles. I don’t separate each strand individually, but i try to work through as small sections as possible. 
  • Pulling out the shed hair - After I have gotten most of the knots out, the next step is to pull on the ends of my hair to remove any shed hair. This is really important because shed hair gets caught up in my strands and is the main cause of breakage for me.
  • Finger combing - Only after I have removed the major knots, I will use my fingers as a comb and rake through my hair. Generally, after completing the first two steps my fingers will go right through. This step helps me feel for any smaller knots which I can then try to unravel.

That is basically it! Finger detangling may seem daunting when you first try it but once you get the hang of it it doesn’t take much time at all and the amount of hair you loose will be significantly smaller. I definitely attribute my ability to retain my length to finger detangling.

[Images: 1. Girl holding her hair with caption “Finger Detangling My Natural Hair.”

2. Image of a bowl with a caption “conditioner and coconut oil” and a water spray bottle.

3. Separating the strands of hair.

4. Pulling out shed hair. She holds the hair at the middle and tugs on the tips with her other hand.

5. Finger combing. She holds the hair near the roots and combs her fingers through.]

How I Detangle My Hair
By Eline

If you look at my little about blurb you will see I have had lifelong issues with both anxiety and depression. I’ve often used make up, as well as outfits, to shield it, to make myself feel empowered but don’t be fooled by my online persona — I definitely have days where I just can’t do a thing and sit and cry. Back up, wait, I can’t even sit, and sometimes I don’t even have the energy to cry. Caring for our hair is one of the most common beauty rituals we neglect, and with ‘me’ I lovingly refer to my fellow mental health issue-babes but also people with chronic health issues, or anyone who feels the task is too daunting to start. Whether short or long, combing your hair can be a mean task. Here are my tips for detangling your hair.

For super curly-haired babes, see this incredible post.