‘I Felt Freedom’: A Black Man Speaks on His Natural Hair Journey

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Although the natural hair community mainly focuses on women, there are many men who have grown tired of close cuts, and are now opting for full afros and frohawks. And if you grew out your own natural hair from a fade or teeny weeny afro, you know that hair health is important even if your goal isn’t hip length. In this interview, I talk with Dunson, a corporate professional turned full-time musician who ditched his super short hair.

When and why did you decide to start growing your hair out? I decided to start growing my hair in late 2010, roughly six months after I left a corporate job to pursue a career as a full-time artist. Letting my hair grow in some ways stemmed from the freedom I felt as I began to express myself out loud.

Has your regimen changed since you’ve started growing it out? Do you care more about the health of your hair? Absolutely. For the first year, I used trial and error methods to care for my hair without much research. This included abstaining from combing my hair and using any product on the shelves at the closest grocery store with a black person on the label. As I began to travel and encounter more people with natural hair, I realized there was room for improvement on my end so I began researching blogs and YouTube channels. My regimen is now a consistent multiple-step process including washing, detangling, conditioning and styling…all with a couple monthly trips to the barber to maintain the shape I prefer.

Do you think your career affected your choice to grow your hair out? It did. I wore long hair and braids at a young age and throughout college but swiftly chopped them off before applying for jobs in the finance industry. I was told that a clean cut was necessary to obtain a career in the corporate world. Looking back, it now makes sense that I grew my hair right back upon becoming a full-time artist. It’s me and it’s “allowed” now!

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What issues or reservations, if any, do you have about your hair? Most of my issues involve styling my hair. While the health of my hair has improved with my regimen, styling can be a challenge. My home barber in Maryland knows exactly what I like but traveling across the country and trying out different barbers has been hit or miss. Lately I’ve been experimenting with a longer length and sometimes it’s rough to conceptualize what’s next so I keep a few of my favorite hats in arms reach for those days.

I’ve heard some men express a desire to grow their hair long or to a specific length (braid hang time!). Do you have a hair goal? Ha, I was definitely a participant in the “hang-time” competition during my teenage years. The longer your hair was, the cooler you were for some reason. At this point, I just love the ability to create and own my appearance. It’s another avenue of creativity and expression in a way.

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What advice do you have for folks growing their hair out from a very short length? If you have an idea of what you want to achieve with your hair, research early. You don’t have to wing it. There are so many resources for natural hair inspiration, education, and ideas at our fingertips. Use them!

Men doing research on natural hair? I like it! There are still some guys I know who refuse to use anything but Murray’s, so I commend this. You can check out more of Dunson and his natural hair at www.dunsonmusic.com, @kentondunson on Twitter, or Dunson Music on Facebook.

**This article originally appeared on Black Girl with Long Hair.

2 comments

  1. It’s great to get a mans viewpoint and see him take interest in his hair. I know a lot of young guys that say natural hair isn’t “done” or “it’s just nappy”. This is the hair you were born with, you should know how to take care of it.

    1. I totally agree! Both black men and women have been looked down on for not wearing our hair “neat,” so it’s awesome to see a man talk about it.

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