On André Walker's scale, my chemical-free long fro is a 4a: kinky, tight ringlets. As a graduate student, I have very little money, but am looking for techniques to protect my hair's health as I grow it long again. Massey and Chiel have done beautifully. The short chapter on African American hair does what most "experts" are too vain to do--it relies on the judgement of others who specialize in the field. How many times have I had a hair disaster at the hands of a stylist who only knew rumors about nappy hair? Even most Black stylists are truly experts with *straightened* hair. Massey courted some impressive professionals whose opinions did not always bend to hers. As a former researcher, I respect that!
And the no-shampoo method works! For those handling nappy hair, I would recommend the following adaptations to Massey's techniques:
1) During the conditioner wash, cover all the hair w/conditioner, then gently comb out. I comb my hair in the direction I plan to style it. Combing is necessary for kinky hair, unless you are cultivating dreadlocs.
2) Shake your hair a little once you've conditioned for step 3 (kinky ringlets sometimes need a bit of room to shape up.)
3) Massey says silicones weigh hair down. Silicones can't weigh down virgin kinky hair, but they will eventually turn your hair into a shiny, dead mess. They also resist removal by even super-stripping shampoos, so use a non-silicone conditioner with as few ingredients as possible.
4) I have dandruff, but it is under control even after many weeks on Massey's technique. I use the brown sugar scalp scrub every week. Dandruff scalps benefit from more exfoliation. Also, you can substitute cider vinegar for the lemon juice in her Lemon-Aid potion. I have a small spray bottle of vinegar in the shower and i spray some right onto my oily scalp prior to step 2. Oily scalps just need to do the scalp cleansing step more often than Massey indicates. It is not drying.
5) I use inexpensive conditioners by VO5 and CureCare (a beauty supply store brand with 5 ingredients) and have not suffered from a dull look on my hair. Learn to read labels. Try a conditioner which says it's designed for use as body moisturizer.
6) Feel free to add some olive or sesame oil to a dab of conditioner if your hair seems to crave extra. I never use gel, but i gently put this mix through my hair, when needed.
7) She describes a straw set. You can get other-sized curls by setting hair on perm rods. Just use curl papers.
Black curly girls may find it funny that the British Massey has re-invented a product familiar to many of us: oil sheen spray! She suggests putting olive oil in a culinary oil mister for use on the hair! I had to smile.
Massey's book is written with *intelligence,* *respect,* and enthusiasm for all people with textured hair. Not only does she paraphrase Marcus Garvey's thoughts on hair hatred, she actually points out the prejudiced attitudes behind the modern insistence on straight hair as "professional," "well-bred", or "intelligent." Hair is political, and this woman knows it, although her book in straight-up fun. It is valuable for women who want to look like their curly, kinky, nappy, happy selves, not like some deep-fried blow-out queen. I like that the book is inexpensive and that the models are real women with truly lovely "real-world" hair. Bravo!