Many women of the Windrush Generation straightened their hair with a metal ‘hot comb’, which was heated on the gas stove and combed through the hair to straighten the natural afro kinks. This technique straightened the tight curls of afro hair into straight hair with a pomaded sheen. For some women of the Windrush generation this was a personal preference and for some others by adoping hair styles popular with white women it was a way of fitting into British society.
Over the years fashions have changed and the 1970's saw many young black women returning to afro styles. Over the last few years weaves and 'relaxing' hair with chemical straightening processes have been popular. However, there is now a revival in wearing hair naturally without chemicals. Singer and television presenter Rochelle Humes straightened her hair for many years as she says she felt pressured to look a certain way. She now embraces her own natural curly hair as she wants her daughters to do the same.
Mylo Freeman wrote a book Hair: It's a Family Affair which is a celebration of afro hair and the vibrant varied hairstyles found in one family. The colourful illustrations show young black children the joys and endless possibilities that can be found in afro hair.
Hear more from Mylo about the book here: