LHDC says: Personally, I don't agree with at lot of what Mr. Andre has to say in this response, but to each their own! However, Andre originally made the "controversial" statement(s) FOURTEEN years ago in his book....he didn't get back lash back in 1997 when the book was published, but now, in 2011 when he repeats what he had published 14 years ago everyone is up in arms about it...well, do you wanna know what I think?
I think in 1997 there was no "natural hair movement." Most every other person who had kinky hair had a RELAXER [I know I did] so his comments about keeping the hair healthy supported those of us who were keeping our kinky hair straight by either relaxing or HEAT. Secondly, the Internet was not like it is today - I mean, there wasn't even a Google back then [ask me how I know LOL]! So even if there were people who were up in arms about it, no one was blogging about it, or Tweeting about it, or Facebooking about it or YouTubing it...
So was/is Andre "wrong" for his statements about kinky hair NEEDING to be straight in order for it to be "healthy?" If you'd have asked me back in '97 I would have said NO, but since you're asking me in 2011, I say YES!!! Just like any other scientific discipline, the study of HAIR - in particular TEXTURED HAIR - is ever changing! In science, new things are discovered ALL the time! I think as a trained and studied "hair scientist" AND as a highly public hair guru, Andre should take time to keep updated and studied within his discipline and like other scientists, when new things are discovered, tested and PROVEN, opinions and statements should change...because once you KNOW better, you should DO better!
15 years ago, I wrote a book called "Andre Talks Hair." In the book, I define four basic types of hair, based on texture, in order to help women determine their own type and thus know how best to care for their particular type. Though all hair is basically the same, and benefits from many of the same nutrients and products, there are significant differences in hair texture.
Recently, in an interview with Elle Magazine, I repeated my professional opinion about caring for Type 4 hair, often referred to as kinky hair. Here’s what I said in Elle:
"I always recommend embracing your natural texture. Kinky hair can have limited styling options; that’s the only hair type that I suggest altering with professional relaxing".
That statement is a very short version of what I also said in my book all those years ago, but almost immediately after the Elle article, the internet was abuzz with people questioning why I would recommend chemically relaxing a particular hair type Some even said my advice suggests that kinky hair is "bad" hair.
Let me first say that there is no such thing as "bad" hair, and I have long ago freed myself from being afraid to use the word "kinky" and also from being accused of not liking natural hair. We have become a multi-cultural society that embraces many different looks and styles when it comes to hair. It is my Mission to help you grow strong, healthy hair, and wear it in the style or styles that best suit your likes and particular hair type.
When it comes to curly and kinky hair (there is a difference), I leave the political correctness of "going straight" or staying natural to a woman’s personal preference. Once again, my advice is based on how to best achieve strong, healthy hair. So for those who would like to engage me in a debate about who has more racial pride and self esteem, based on hairstyle preference and use or non-use of chemical relaxers, know that I believe in personal freedom, and in the use of advanced technology when it yields positive results, which many of today’s (versus yesterday’s) chemical relaxers do deliver.
It is a fact that kinky hair (my Type 4 definition) is extremely fragile and breaks easily. Even when you are very careful, something as simple as combing can break this texture. It is very difficult to achieve a longer length when the hair breaks, even with simple combing. That being said, there is the style option of wearing braids, dreads, or twists, which allows the hair to grow longer because it is combed less often. Another style choice is to simply wear a shorter cut, which is very attractive on some women but just not right for others.
So when I say to embrace your natural texture, but consider relaxing kinky hair, am I contradicting myself? I don’t think so! You see, even relaxed hair can still be worn naturally. If you want a natural look, but find that your kinky hair is difficult to manage, breaks too easily, lacks shine and luster, and limits your preferred styling options, I say feel free to consider a mild chemical relaxer, sometimes called a texturizer, that eases your hair to a more manageable texture and allows you to Make Peace With Your Hair.
We’ve come a long way in the ability of chemical relaxers to gently relax the hair. In fact, I notice that my book is somewhat dated in that respect. When I wrote it, I was not a fan of no-lye relaxers. But now they are much improved, and I use them when I know it will help a client to maintain either a "natural" or a straight look — whichever she prefers — with more ease.
Mandatory for all hair types, and extra mandatory for curly, coarse, or kinky hair — Condition, Condition, Condition !
My Mission in the products I develop and in the professional advice I offer to Everyone of all hair types — Make Peace With Your Hair.
My Message for everyone who questions the integrity of my advice regarding coarse/kinky natural hair — All hair is GOOD hair. Healthy hair is BETTER hair. I will always offer you my BEST hair advice.
this article in it's entirety has been adapted from andrewalkerhair.com