At this point in the quarantine period your streaming service queue is probably starting to seem redundant. Put down that remote and pick up a good read instead. Nothing will take your mind off the bleak reality of not being able to be out and about during these sunny spring days like being swept up into an intriguing story.
The authors below have left it all on the paper with these fresh takes on the history of Black hair, best beauty products for melanin girls, the exclusivity of the beauty industry, Black beauty ritual, and how to gain success as a Black woman in the beauty biz. That’s a lot of Black and a lot of beautiful.
Palette: The Beauty Bible for Women of Colour by Funmi Fetto
Not only is this book a guide for melanin-rich beauties on which products are for us, but it’s also a spotlight on the disparity of diversity balance in the beauty industry. A veteran in the beauty game, Fetto put her vast knowledge of the business and her passion for Black women into this project. “I was inspired to write Palette because I felt the needs of women of color, specifically Black women, were still not being met by the beauty industry. There’s an unspoken idea that now darker skin tones can find their foundations, the inclusivity problem has been solved,” she tells ESSENCE. “But of course, our beauty needs go beyond 'shade range'. So much of the beauty media was, and still is, exclusively speaking to Caucasian audiences, and mainstream beauty retailers are still predominantly targeting Caucasian consumers. And yet we are the big spenders in this category. So this book offers product recommendations that work for us but is also a vehicle to remind the gatekeepers of the beauty industry that we are not invisible and they need to rethink their inclusive strategy.”
From the lady who all your friends and colleagues are scrambling to get a knotless box braids appointment with comes this primer that takes you past the beautiful aesthetics of braids, and into all the things you need to know about care. It asks the question: What’s the point of having “hair goals” if you don’t take the utmost care of your hair before and during an install? It’s an eye opener for all the ladies who thought that putting their hair into braids was all they needed to do to protect their strands. Like me. She also clears up so many misconceptions about Black hair that even Black women have. This quick read will force you to face your hair demons, then offer solutions that will allow you to feel better about your bad choices. It’s filled with all the stuff that they won’t tell you at the salon, and details that only a licensed cosmetologist and certified natural hairstylist would know. And the information is delivered like a conversation with your best girlfriend who always gives it to you straight up, but with love.
Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair by Emma Dabiri
Author Emma Dabiri takes us on a historical and cultural journey through what is arguably the feature that Black women have the most complex and ambivalent relationship—our hair. Infused with her personal experiences, this exploration of Black hair holds a microscope to the way that discrimination is disseminated via our curls. With a gaze at hair through a historical and intimate lens, ranging from stories of pre-colonial Africa, to the slave trade when Black women’s heads were shaved as punishment, to today’s natural hair movement, this book will have you in your feelings. You will see so much of your story in her story, but you’ll also learn so much history about why your story exists. You will feel proud, hurt, angry, sympathetic and hopeful as you go on this incredible ride with Dabiri.
Make A Million, Maintain A Million by Sierra Gates
Most people know Sierra Gates for her role on the reality show Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. But if you ask her (and we did), she’ll tell you she’s most proud of the role that allows her to fulfill what she believes is her ministry—helping other Black women. In this new e-book, she talks about her success in the beauty industry and offers anecdotes to help women avoid all the financial pitfalls that she fell into when she was green in the business. “When I made my [first] million, I thought I was rich. Got your girl from the hood who got some money,” says Gates. “I spent $200,000, $300,000 on clothes, shoes, bags. I bought five cars. I was just splurging. I spent $4,300 on rent; something that I wasn't even owning. I was just winging it. So in this book, I'm basically giving everybody the guidelines of the dos and don'ts to become successful.”
Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd, Illustrated by Nneka Myers
Don’t mistake this illustrated book as just for kids. While it was created for the author Nancy Redd’s daughter after she didn’t want to wear her bonnet to bed, it’s truly a story for all Black girls, young and old. The images by illustrator Nneka Myers capture so many different textures of Black hair including waves, locs and a variety of curls. The book serves as a reminder that Black hair is beautiful in all forms, and it’s so magical in what it can do. It also helps explain to a child that Black hair is special because it’s different and that's why we have to care for it in unique ways. It’s a wonderful gift for a little girl in your life, but also a beautiful depiction of our culture to add to your shelf of collectibles.