Nighttime Care for Your Hair: Bonnets to Baby Hairs
It wasn’t until recently that black women in television starting wrapping their hair as part of their nighttime routine. But it has always been a part of life for black women in real life. The reasons for this lack of representation probably lie in racism and sexism, but the reason for the nightly ritual is simply practicality. In fact, Aria Hughes, wrote a beautiful article recently highlighting these prejudices while interviewing some writers and produces of popular television shows that starred black women from decades past.
Black women wrap their hair at night and when washing their faces to maintain their hair. Plain and simple.
Black girls have known it for years, wearing a silk bonnet at night helps keep moisture in your hair. Cotton pillowcases suck that moisture from your hair. Women of all ethnicities are starting to realize this too! But for black women, the sebum (the oil everyone’s scalps produce) has a harder time sliding down the entire strand of hair. For women with straight hair, this is not a problem, but the curlier or kinkier the hair gets, the harder it is for the sebum to moisturize the entire strand of hair. Silk scarves or bonnets help solve this problem
White people and those of Asian heritage often have to wash their hair daily. Their straight hair can get too greasy if it is not washed daily. Black people do not, nay, should not, wash their hair this frequently because of the moisture concerns addressed above. And because of this, black women can often keep the same hairstyle for days, as long as they wrap that hairstyle up at night in a silk bonnet.
Black and Hispanic women have been styling their edges for decades. Since African Americans arrival in the United States, white people have viewed black hair as inferior, so for many black people at the beginning of the twentieth century, natural hair was not an option. Rather, they opted for styles that hid their natural hair and imitated white hair. This included slicking down the edges. Eventually, women of color began to embrace their baby hairs and styled them into what was known as finger waves. Josephine Baker wore finger waves better than any!
Now, styled edges are popular and embraced. (In fact, Katy Perry and other white celebrities are laying their edges. Cultural appropriation or celebration?) This adds more steps to a black woman’s bedtime routine. Each night before bed, most woman (but should be all women) wash their faces. The day’s makeup, oil and sweat need to go. The face needs to be clean before applying any rejuvenating serums and moisturizers. But for black women with laid edges or even just prominent baby hairs, this is a nightmare. Unless of course, they have their edges wrapped!
These wrappers prevent the edges from getting wet and having to be laid all over again.
We are in the midst of the second natural hair movement. Women of color are choosing hair health.