Hair in Native American Culture
Most people are familiar with the multitude of infomercials selling the product Wen, lauded by celebs everywhere as the only safe way to care for your hair. If you happen to be among the masses of people who, upon seeing the commercial, were compelled to purchase the product, with visions of more healthy, more beautiful and more full hair than ever before, you may or may not have been delighted with your purchase. This is because Wen is nothing like any form of conventional shampoo you’ve ever used. It may not, to many people, even feel like it’s capable of actually cleaning the hair, being devoid of those characteristic detergent styled performing aspects. No suds, no squeaky anything and perhaps no noticeable difference at the beginning. Users of Wen who choose to go on using the product mostly become fully enamored with it, and how it improves the condition off their hair over time.
Wen-less Hair Care, the Native American Way
While Wen is not the brainchild of Native America, it is, in many ways, representative of the way that Native Americans look at hair care, and what they look for, and expect–in terms of performance. There is no desire to see or feel a bunch of bubbly suds as they wash–and more than a few tribal methods of hair cleaning would not even qualify to be categorized as cleaning at all, under the prevalent U.S. standard definition today. Native American hair cleaning ranges from the unadulterated water-only method, on up to include an assortment of botanical extracts and all-natural components that have proven their hair beautification power, and passed along by tribal elders in educating their young Native fledglings.
Native American Hair Styles
Here again, there are none of the hair styling products used prevalently by so many. It’s only naturally occurring herbs and plants that become hair styling ingredients. There are concoctions using plant extracts, which are combined with grease rendered from animal hooves and such, that are lauded among Native Americans for their power to beautify hair. Store bought products pretty much begin and end with Vaseline–that’s right. They use it particularly when a hair styling effort is needed to stay put, as such is a requirement in tribal dancing. Native American hairstyles are more or less limited to one braid down the back, two braids–with one to either side of the head, hair buns and unbraided, straight and unadorned hair. Native Americans regard the hair as part of their spirituality, and because of this, frown on cutting of the hair, instead praising long hair that is not cut.
Not Your Thing?
You may not find anything here that you are particularly drawn to, but just remember this: Of all cultures, Native Americans experience hair anomalies like male pattern baldness and hair thinning significantly less than other cultures, and they have typically the thickest, healthiest hair around. Perhaps it’s time to think again.