Because Puerto Ricans are mostly a mixture of Spanish, African and Indian cultures, the genetic combination of hair types ranges widely from the baby fine, straight hair to the tight, course and curly hair types. Each type of hair texture requires different care, especially in the humid climate of Puerto Rico.
African-Black Hair Care
This hair type is generally more dry, course, brittle and curlier than other types of hair. Massaging the scalp on a regular basis is recommended to stimulate oil production and distribute it through dry hair. Daily shampooing is not recommended, as it will wash away natural oils. Instead, shampoo only every three to seven days. Wash hair using only water and occasionally using a mild shampoo with a low pH level after sweat-producing activities. Rub hair in only one direction when washing it to avoid tangling. Wash hair only with warm water, never hot. Use a moisturizing conditioner after shampooing hair. Gently massage either Shea butter, Emu, Jojoba or Castor oil into moist hair, and comb it through with a wide toothed comb to the end of hair.
Biracial or Tri-racial Hair Care
This type of hair care is often more difficult to figure out than African-black hair, since there are a wider variety of textures and needs. It usually looks dull and dry, and suffers mostly from frizziness and difficulty in combing. Some textures are kinkier than others, causing the hair to break more often, causing split ends. Use a wide toothed comb or pick, or a hair brush made for African-black hair. Use a good moisturizing shampoo and cream conditioner. Use detangling lotions or sprays. Wear satin sleep hats at night whenever possible. Spritz the hair with some water for easier combing. Always start to comb at the ends of the hair and work your way up to the roots instead of starting at the roots. Consider washing your hair more often than once a week, but not daily. If possible, due to humid weather conditions, rinse with warm water in between washes and always use hair conditioner. Deep condition hair once or twice a month with hot oil. Moisturize hair as you would African-black hair. Use anti-frizz lotions.
Straight Caucasian or Indian Hair Care
Many times this hair can be fine and limp. Though it’s the shiniest and softest of hair textures, it may be difficult to curl. Make sure to use light and mild shampoos and conditioners that will not weigh hair down. Clarifying shampoos and conditioners are great for this hair texture. Do not overuse hair curling products.
Hair Tips for All Hair Types
Trim hair ends to keep split hairs in check. Avoid using hair products with alcohol. Blot with a towel instead of rubbing your hair. Avoid using too much heat on hair. Use swim caps whenever swimming in pools or at the beach. Use fingers or a pick to untangle knots from wet hair while it dries. Take extra care when you use hair curling, hair relaxing and hair dying products.
The natural hair movement is now a global phenomenon. While it has mostly encouraged women stateside to embrace their curly strands, other locations are gradually getting onboard. One of those places is Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, more women have chosen to show off their natural hair, as NPR recently reported.
Hurricane Maria has been repeatedly quoted as one of the worst natural disasters ever to affect Puerto Rico. Residents island-wide were affected by power outages, and some communities are still suffering from the severe blackout.
Many salons rely heavily on electricity for flat irons, blow dryers, and more. Yet, with the ongoing outages after Hurricane Maria, women were forced to ditch their usual hair-straightening treatments and rock their natural hair textures instead. This led to a boom in new business for OM Studio hair salon because it’s one of the only salons in Puerto Rico that offer styling services for curly hair.
“Maybe only about 10 percent of women in Puerto Rico wear their hair curly,” Laura Om, owner of the OM Studio in San Juan, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Now it’s changing a lot. A lot more people are wearing their hair curly. It’s a movement worldwide, but in Puerto Rico, because of the humid weather, and because of what just happened, many are still left without power, so they had to change the way they wear their hair.”
In Latino culture, wearing your hair in its natural state has a stigma, and New York City-based fitness instructor and proud Puerto Rican Alicia Archer can attest to being personally affected by that mindset. Reflecting on an exchange she had in middle school, she tells Yahoo Lifestyle that a former classmate said to her, “My hair is long and beautiful; your hair is short and nappy!”
Archer wore her hair straight until her senior year of high school, in 2006, when she made the switch to curly hair. “It was a rough transition when I did ‘the big chop’ . I didn’t know that I had it in me to do that, especially since I was raised to view long, straight hair as beautiful. People reacted, but I stood my ground and was happy with my decision.”
Alicia Archer, founder of Kinky Sweat, started wearing her hair natural in 2006 and never looked back. (Photo: Courtesy of Alicia Archer)More
Om is happy to play an integral role in the expansion of “Maranta Power” in Puerto Rico, which she explains is all about celebrating big, curly hair. For the past 16 years, she has had experience working with curlier-textured hair, but it wasn’t something she learned in a school. The professional developed her skills over time as her clientele’s demand for natural-hair styling increased. “I teach my style here in Puerto Rico, and everybody that works in my salon has been trained by me because I want to guarantee that they know how to treat curly hair,” says Om.
“The thing is, nobody teaches how to style curly hair in schools. You don’t learn that. Most hairdressers prefer to blow-dry and straighten your hair instead of doing a nice curly, natural haircut. Our mission is to teach more people so the whole country can work on curly hair.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Afro-Latina recording artist accused of ‘blackface body’ claps back with childhood video
- Who can count all the outfit changes and dollars raised at Jennifer Lopez’s Puerto Rico benefit?
- Photo of woman wrapped in Puerto Rican flag is symbol of island’s strength
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Puerto Rican Hairstylist Laura Om Is Under Fire After Getting Crochet Braids
Om posted a picture of her new braids on Instagram with the caption, “This will be me for a while.” She then thanked her stylist, Leidy Valencia, and promised to keep the style for “some time.” Although Om calls herself a “curl expert,” followers immediately pointed out that, as a white Puerto Rican, the hairstyle wasn’t meant for her, especially considering that some have accused her of telling Black women to get keratin treatments to soften their textures. Crochet braids are a protective hairstyle Black women use to take care of the ends of natural. They help to decrease tangling, shedding, and breakage.
“It’s important to check our own privilege,” one follower wrote. Others invited Om to sit down in person to discuss her decision. But Om, who’s worked as a hairstylist on the island for 16 years, fired back in a series of Instagram stories.
“Since I’m so fabulous and people love commenting on other people’s business, there’s always an idiot who thinks I should not be wearing braids because that’s for Black people,” Om said on her Instagram story. She suggested her braids didn’t make a political statement and instead served as part of her research into the “natural hair” community.” “I take my work very seriously,” she said.
Om explained she’s experimenting with the braids to provide another alternative for curly-haired women who don’t want to wear their short hair after the “big chop” – a term used to describe the haircut stylists use to get rid of chemically treated locks and transition to natural hair. “There are a lot of women who don’t do the big chop because they don’t want to have short curly hair,” Om explained.
Commenters didn’t buy her explanation, though, and pointed out that braids are used in a different context. Other critics slammed Om for profiting off Black culture in Puerto Rico instead of promoting Black creatives.
As she’s embroiled in controversy, plenty of Puerto Ricans have taken to Twitter to denounce her new hairstyle. Check out a few reactions below.
As humans, we tend to take a lot of things for granted—like having power. But for people living in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, having power is a privilege. In fact, having power to use hair styling tools like a blow dryer or a flat iron isn’t even possible for many women, which is why some of them are forgoing their hot tools all together. Instead of straightening their rizos, many of these chicas are now going natural.
No power means not being able to give yourself a sleek straight blowout and this is a big deal in a Latin American country like Puerto Rico, where straight hair is still perceived as the most beautiful. But the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria has left a lot of the island with lack of resources, such as electricity. Folks are being forced to adapt—curly haired chicas included.
Laura Om owns OM studio, a salon in Puerto Rico on Calle Loiza in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She specializes in styling naturally, curly hair and has gotten quite a bit of business since the hurricane. The lack of power made it impossible for a lot of Puerto Rican women to blow dry their hair straight and it’s inspired many of them to embrace their natural curls.
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Frente para 20 🤣❤️🙋🏻♀️ Acepta lo que eres y se feliz! Gózate cada rincón de ti. #lauraom #omlifestylepr
“A lot of people decided, I’m not gonna deal with that anymore,” Om told NPR. In some ways, this has been a huge transformation for a lot of these women and not just on a physical level. Om shares that some of her clients never even knew what their natural texture looked like before stepping into her salon. This is a very common experience for a lot of Latinas who don’t have naturally straight hair and grew up in a culture where they were told their texture was “pelo malo.”
Om explains how the culture tells women from a very young age that “if you don’t have straight hair, you’re not well put together.” If one good thing has come out of this storm, it’s that it’s changing the way the island and the culture perceives curly hair and beauty.
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#marantapower 😍🔥💪🏼 Está maranta se nos va para Dallas. Buena vida mi reina! Aquí te esperamos 🙌🏼 #omcut #omstudiopr #lareinadelosrizos
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“I’m very happy that I can help young girls love themselves the way they are and it’s not always easy,” Om says. “A lot of times it’s harder to wear your hair natural but we help them get there. And we are mixed so we have to embrace that. We have to be happy with that.”
The natural hair movement has really come a long way—especially in the states. But it’s even more exciting to see it happening in Latin America, where the message of embracing curls has taken a little longer to sink it. Curly hair advocates like Om and Carolina Contreras of “Miss Rizos” have really helped move this movement forward.
Contreras started the first hair salon dedicated specifically to naturally curly hair in Dominican Republic and has become a well-known natural hair advocate within the Latinx community. The natural hair movement especially for Latinas, black women, and other women of color is especially important because of the way we are brought up. If you grow up in a culture—in a society—that tells you you’re not beautiful enough the way that you naturally are and that you have to change that in order to be perceived as beautiful in society—that can do a number on your self-esteem. It’s great to see how things have changed and how much we have progressed when it comes to this. After all, curls are gorgeous. It’s time we all started believing that!
Hola y Bienvenido!
Today, I want to share with you Boricua hair and the products we use. Because hair is so entwined with our perception of beauty, it is the most easily manipulatable element of our physical self—one that best helps manifest also our internal self. This is perhaps why such a simple thing like hair matters to discussions of one’s personal identity. It’s been a serious issue for some Puerto Rican women whose confidence has been affected by society’s ideas of beauty. It’s been a powerful tool for others whose love for their hair grew hand in hand with the love for themselves.
Some women like it and some women hate their hair. And some learned to love their hair and found in that transformation a freedom worth sharing.
I interviewed two good friends of mine Jess and Chrissy, who are Puerto Rican. We talked about hair, about their personal stories, about loving their hair and about loving themselves. Here are their stories…and mine will be last.
I’m going to start by sharing Jess’s story.
Please meet Jess
Getting started lets get to know her, she is a talented inspiring entrepreneur who lives here in the US she is also the owner of Jess Designs Jewelry. (Which I did a previous post on.) Jess’s hair texture is wavy- not straight or curly like mine or Chrissy’s hair. She believes we have an opportunity now to redefine the concept of Puerto Rican beauty and aesthetics to include all of our colors and textures, especially our grifas.
Jess’s go-to favorite hair care products are Living Proof and Pantene Pro V Daily Moisture Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner. She says both give essential hydration from root to tip which is extremely important for her and her hair type.
This is what she had to say about using Living Proof hair products:
“Ever since I saw Jennifer Aniston backing up the product like 3 yrs ago, I knew it had to be good because her hair always looks great and she really takes great care of herself. She’s a beauty,”she said.
“What I like the most is that Living Proof carries a line of products to aim & fit every hair texture.”
She say’s that even though Living Proof maybe a little pricy, it works wonderfully for her and her hair type. Jess, is now using the newest product called Living Proof T.B.D. Multi-Tasking Styler.
T.B.D. = Tame Blowout Deconstruct
She commented that she is absolutely hooked on their products and it is her absolute favorite and would definitely recommend it.
Here is what she had to say about using Pantene Pro V hair products:
Jess says that she also loves using Pantene Pro V Moisture Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner. She especially likes how it holds up during the Fall and Winter months.
“It really leaves my hair feeling super hydrated, soft and manageable,”she stated. Here’s the thing about shampoo: it’s all about taking away (dirt, oil), not so much about giving back (softness, shine). And I’ve accepted it. We lather, we rinse … and we put all our nourishment expectations on our conditioner. Pantene Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal Shampoo, however, has long been one of the least stripping of hair-cleansing options, which is probably why you like to give it your votes — and praise. Your hair stays hydrated, in all weather, until your next wash. This is truly a one-bottle-fits-all product!”
Now, moving on to how she takes care of her beautiful hair.
“After, I wash my hair, I blow dry it with a regular blow dryer and use a round roller brush then brush it section by section – like at the salon,”she stated. “Thereafter, I apply my fav styling product.”
- Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-1 Styling Treatment
Jess told me,”It’s the best styling cream.” “It leaves my hair so soft, shiny, less frizzy, bouncy and manageable.”
Now, I’d like to introduce you to Chrissy.
Please meet Chrissy
Getting started I’d like for you to get to know her, she is a talented actress and singer who lives here in the US. She is a fine example of a brave and proud Boricua with big curls. Her hair texture is curly like mine- not straight or or wavy like Jess’s hair. She believes natural hair, whether curly or not, is beautiful and part of who we are. Teaching our young girls to love their hair as they love themselves is fundamental to raise a new generation of proud Boricuas.
Chrissy’s go-to favorite hair care products are everything Deva Curl. She says it gives perfect curl definition and essential hydration from root to tip which is extremely important for her and her hair type.
This is what she had to say about using Deva Curl Buildup Buster:
“If your hair has lost its mojo due to buildup from products, hard water, or environmental stressors, this rinse-out cleansing serum will bring all curl types back to life,” she said. “I used to straighten it but it created so much damage that I had to cut it.”
“I use the Deva Curl Buildup Buster as the shampoo, I do the curly girl method except for I wash my hair a little more.”
Here is what Chrissy had to say about using Deva Curl One Condition:
“If your hair needs a dose of essential moisture and you want soft, frizz-free curls, you’ve come to the right conditioner! One Condition Original works great for all curl types.”
“It’s helped my heat damaged hair from using blowers and planchas,” she told me.
Now, I’d like to move on to how she takes care of her beautiful curls.
“My hair routine, is I wash it with Deva Curl Buildup Buster then soak it with water and conditioner. After which, I comb it section by section it takes about 20 min to do my hair.”
When, I asked her if she’s ever struggled with her locks she said,”no.” She did however say that it did have a little bit of shrinkage so she would straighten it.
Chrissy says the best thing about her gorgeous locks is the color. “It looks dark like black but it’s actually a brown-blonde color….when people see me in person they are shocked.”
She commented to me that she is absolutely hooked on their products and it is her absolute favorite and would definitely recommend it.
And now for my story which is the last to give.
Please meet Me
Getting started I’d like for you to get to know me, yes I’m pretty sure you know me lol since this is my website. I am a talented Administrative Assistant and aspiring Entrepreneur who lives here in the US. My hair texture is curly like Chrissy’s- not straight but kind of in between Chrissy and Jess’s hair textures. I believe when life got complicated, my own beauty routine simplified and I learned to love myself just as I am. My hope is to learn and share some inspiration and guidance to help raise a new generation of confident Boricua women who love their natural hair.
At this point, I’ve left the years of hating my own hair behind. I’ve been the girl with long hair in ponytails, then the adolescent with a perm and later the young adult slaved to the blow-dryer. Many Boricua women still wake up in the morning, stand in front of the mirror and ask the Shakespearian question: To be or not to be grifa? Do we really look better with straight hair? That’s what I thought all adolescence long.
Many of us have gone through this, struggling to define the best way to wear our hair that may or may not fit with what we imagine perfect beauty to be. The issues of whether to wear hair naturally or manipulate it to conform to some ideal, to make it look like somebody else’s, be it the prettiest doll, the telenovela’s lead actress, or the hottest Hollywood star, still remains.
Because let’s be frank here, I’m talking mainly about curly hair, and all levels of it from wavy to Afro. If you have straight hair, you are already a level closer to that “perfect look” society celebrates. For me, and I’m sure other Puerto Rican sisters, the issue of whether and just how to embrace hair has long been a question to grapple with.
My go-to favorite hair care products are everything OGX Coconut. It gives perfect curl definition and essential hydration from root to tip which is extremely important for my hair type.
This is my review on OGX Coconut:
Why I Love It…It’s like a trip to the tropics in a bottle.
Why You Want It…The luxuriously creamy, foamy, hydrating formula leaves your hair feeling clean, glowing, softly scented and super soft.
What’s In It For You…Coconut milk and ultra whipped egg white proteins along with weightless coconut oil to hydrate and nourish your hair as gentle cleansers wash away impurities.
What It’s In…Organix bottles are eco-friendly, manufactured from materials containing recycled post-consumer resin. All labels are printed utilizing environmental inks and compostable label film made from annually renewable resource corn, no from petrochemicals.
Now, I’d like to move on to how I take care of my beautiful curls.
“My hair routine, is I wash it with OGX Coconut Line (I switch up from time to time but stick with the same line.) I then soak it with conditioner let it sit for like 10 min and wash it out. After which, I comb it section by section it takes about 20 min to do my hair.”
“I apply my fav styling product after I comb my hair.”
- OGX Coconut Curls Hair Butter
- OGX Coconut Curls Nourishing Conditioner
- TRESemme Mousse
“People call me for my reputation, I’m honest and I believe in haircare. Once you apply a chemical treatment and seal it with a flat iron, your hair will never be the same. It could look beautiful, but it is not healthy. Being beautiful is taking care of you. Caring for your hair from the root, not only the surface.”
In my opinion we all count on different things to help us feel confident. Hair is one of those things. Almost all of the women remembered hair care time during their childhood as bonding time with their mothers or grandmothers, some hold sweet memories and some painful ones. Natural hair, whether curly or not, is beautiful and part of who we are.
These interviews gave me a trove of tips, inspiration, and guidance for a decade of raising a beautiful, confident young lady. In spite of the diversity of opinions, backgrounds, and hair types the women I interviewed had, we can all agree on the need to respect and honor our heritage. We have an opportunity now to redefine the concept of Puerto Rican beauty and aesthetics to include all of our colors and textures, especially our grifas. All the women I interviewed agreed that a beautiful woman is a confident woman. Confidence makes a woman beautiful from the inside out.
As always, I’d love to thank my readers for reading this. I hope this has inspired my Boricuas to love their hair more. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post my friends and I have put together for you.