Friday, February 13, 2009

Black Hair Survey Results

OK, so I finally got around to summarizing the results from the survey. Around 50 people responded to my 2008 survey. It revealed some interesting things to me about the reality of our hair versus our perception of our hair and natural beauty in general. I plan to repeat it in 2009 to see if I can get more perspectives on black women's hair care.

State of Hair

Most women who responded to the survey, around 75%, had naturally dark brown hair (in the 1B to 2 range for those accustomed to the braid/weave/track colors) and still have their natural hair color. More than half (about 53%) described their hair as tightly coiled (as opposed to a medium or loose curl pattern).

An overwhelming 92% had a perm at some point in their lives (bless the 8%!), and about 90% have worn braids at some point also. 16% believe natural hair is unattractive but around 60% are happy with their hair texture. A little over half had tried twists, corn rows, or afros. Most respondents had natural hair:
· Natural/Loose Hair: 37.0%
· Perm/Relaxer: 15.2%
· Traditional Locks: 4.3%
· Sisterlocks: 43.5%

Hair Styles & Maintenance

Most ladies who had sisterlocks reported that was their favorite hair style (usually a braid/twist out or freestyle). Only 3 people reported a preference for weaves. Over half did not feel their hair was high maintenance.

Hair Care Problems

Only 12% reported they never had any hair problems (lucky!). ¾ of respondents currently or in the past reported problems with dry, itchy, or flaky scalp and about half previously had hair that was too dry. Nearly 90% experienced a problem with breakage in the past or currently.

These results indicate to me that we do not know how to care for our hair and/or the chemicals and products we have used in the past were not suited to our hair type and texture. Yes, even products with red, black, & green logos have not treated us well.

Almost 60% had previously or currently experienced thinning hair along the hair line. This is probably due to styling (weaves, too tight braids, etc.) and the natural tendency of the hair around the edges to be softer, thinner, or more fragile. The same amount reported issues with their hair tangling. About 40% reported current or previous uneven hair as a problem and 47 percent currently have a problem with their hair shedding.

Hair Length

Only 39% were happy with their hair length and 58% wished their hair was longer. Only 2 people felt their hair was too long. 55% of women said they had short hair while only 12% think they have long hair. 41% report never having had long hair in their lifetime. Despite this, no one believes their hair is unable to grow. This tells me we know we are doing something wrong and may just believe we don’t have the right answer. I know my hair can grow, but I don’t know how to treat it so it will be healthy and grow naturally.

I did not state long or short in inches because I wanted it to be based on our perceptions of length. I may be more specific in a future survey to see what we think is long versus short hair. As a gauge, shorter than shoulder length seems to be considered “short” while anything beyond that is “long.” Shoulder length hair could go either way depending on your perception.

More than half believe men prefer long hair and that they would look better with long hair. Only 14% believe they look better with short hair. This was striking to me because most people don’t believe their hair is long but they think that’s what men prefer. I wonder if that’s true or if that’s what we think. What an effect that can have on our self-esteem. I am almost tempted to do a black men’s survey to see what they think :-)

1 comment:

  1. Very intriguing and unique post. Who would have thought to do a comprehensive survey on the matter of women's perception of their hair. Well written and thorough report too. I look forward to reading on the findings of 2009. :)