Since my last hair blog on 27th May 2021, when I talked about my own experiences with my natural hair in the modelling industry, ground-breaking news has emerged surrounding rules that involve hairstylists and Afro hair. This news has been a long time coming for black models.
Afro hair is now officially included in cutting and styling practices for all hair types, which was released by the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for hairdressing - this now means that all new hairdressers will learn to work with Afro hair as part of their training, thanks to all the hard work and campaigning by the British Beauty Council.
Many hairdressing courses do not have certified qualifications that require students to learn how to cut or style Afro hair, which resulted in a major gap in professional expertise for this demographic. This change to the standards has come two years after the British Beauty Council set up a task force with the Hair & Beauty Authority (Habia) to support the revised NOS.
Hearing this news, was both uplifting and saddening... In one breath I was happy that I will hopefully one day have hairstylists that will be able to cater to my hair type, but in another breath, I felt angry and misunderstood which brought my mind back to all of the experiences I've had...
I always ask myself, will I still have to prepare my hair before a shoot? Do I still need to bring my own hair products just in case they don't have any that work for my hair? Will the hairstylist use heat on my hair? Leaving these uncomfortable questions to continue to linger in my head.
It's alarming that it has taken this long for Afro hair to be taken seriously and there's no wonder why people have turned to chemicals to change the texture of their hair... This is because our hair has never really been fully embraced by the world!
Afro hair comes in a variety of textures, shapes and styles... Each one of our curls and coils are different! So, will UK hairdressers really take out the time to educate themselves? I hope that with this change, Afro hair is embraced and isn't frowned and looked down upon anymore. Like I said in my previous blog - our hair is beautiful despite what society says!
As I was doing my research regarding the new rules, I came across Jemima Bradley a hairstylist, who in June 2020 started a petition to Include Afro Hair Education in the Hairdressing NVQ qualification - she said "We as an industry have a huge fault. This is the education of black hair. It’s not taught in college. This is wrong. We need to stand up, make a change for the sake of our black clients. We as hairdressers have a global responsibility of making people feel good."
Wanting to continue the conversation, I spoke to Renee Bryant-Mulcare - a beautiful model and fashion graduate, breaking barriers in the fashion/modelling industry, where I asked her to share some of her own experiences.
Have hairstylists been able to accommodate to your hair type on shoots/jobs?
"So far throughout my journey with modelling, I have worked with teams that have been accommodating to my hair and have been prepared with appropriate products to suit my hair type."
Have you ever straightened or prepared your hair before a shoot because you didn’t feel comfortable to wear your natural hair and why?
"I haven’t straightened my hair for a shoot, but I have prepared in advance. For example, I have prepared my hair by doing a twist out style the night before a shoot so it may be easier to style on set for a job the next day. Or even brought my own products with me at times, just in case they didn’t have the products for my hair at the shoot. Although I’ve realised now, that this is something that I shouldn’t have to worry about."
Do you feel comfortable for hairstylists to style your natural hair or do you prefer to do it yourself?
"I do feel comfortable with hairstylists styling my hair on set, however sometimes I may say to the stylists if I want to change things a bit, or sometimes slightly tweak things myself or suggests things to do."
Have you ever had any bad hair experiences on set?
"So far I haven’t, as far as I can remember I have always/mostly been requested to have or expected to turn up with my hair in it's natural state which is comforting to me to be myself."
What advice would you give to someone that is struggling to embrace their natural hair?
"I would say to keep on working on embracing your hair natural hair even though it may not always be easy. and I feel throughout history we have been taught to hate it but this has been changing over time. Get to know what works well with your hair and what doesn’t. Experiment with different styles for your natural hair, play around with texture and shape. This may not always feel comfortable for you, but the more you try, the more you learn to love yourself just as you are and with the beautiful hair you were born with! Own that crown! Be brave and wear it your way! Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd, keep showing up in your most authentic way."
What is your opinion on hairdressers now being trained in cutting and styling afro hair as part of their training?
"I think its about time! I definitely feel that this is something important and should have been introduced a long time ago. In this type of industry, I think its Vitale as the hairstylist will of course at some point work with individuals who have afro hair and should be able to accommodate that without making them feel uncomfortable, or turning up without the right knowledge as to how to approach and work with afro hair."
One thing I can relate to when it comes to Renee's experiences, is the fact that we both prepare our hair before a shoot and bring our own hair products, just in case the stylist doesn't have any that will cater to our needs.
When I wear my natural hair for shoots, I do a twist out and prep my hair at least two days before. Hopefully now that, hairdressers have to be trained in styling afro hair - models like myself and Renee will no longer feel the need to prepare our hair days before a shoot.
If you would like to read my first blog where I speak to Iman Perera, about our shared experiences of having natural hair in the modelling industry - click here.
I want to end on a positive note and leave you with this quote from Renee...
"Love yourself just as you are and with the beautiful hair you were born with! Own that crown! Be brave and wear it your way! Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd, keep showing up in your most authentic way."
Thank you for reading.