I met Nicola Smart at the recent Precious Hair Awards and her hair was and is goals! She has a loc at the back, shaved sides and 20 inches of beautiful type 4 hair. I told you, goals!
I then found out she is a certified trichologist, one of the few species of her kind in the UK; melanated and with the skills of the dark arts of hair function, structure and its various diseases.
The natural hair wave that swept in from 2008 was obviously not a fad as predicted. Hair Care systems by renowned brands have had to adapt to the needs of kinkier hair releasing products which contain oils, butters and ingredients we asked for. This changed the dynamic of products being shoved into our shopping baskets by big corporations and rather a hope that we would pick what is now on the shelves as we became aware and fully “woke” to how ingredients affected our hair manageability and health.
The science of Trichology is not new but as we woke up to our own self-care as black women with kinkier, curly and coily hair; a few went forth to study to back the trial and error knowledge we were sharing via blogs and YouTube with scientific facts.
Nicola started out in tech PR, spreading her black girl magic in that field successfully, going into organising poetry events such as Laugh Out Live selling out at the Indigo O2 featuring Donnell Rawlings; a bit of jewellery making and meeting people like the incredibly funny Dave Chappelle. As the saying goes, when a woman cuts her hair, she’s about to change her life. She had been through the whole relaxed, dyed to the death, colouring stage of experimenting with her hair, she shaved her hair off around 2008 to grow a luscious afro and never looked back. This was when the likes of Kimmaytube, African Export and Brown Babydoll were running the natural hair scene on the blogs and YouTube. Growing an afro had her asking how to manage it properly, after finding out the hard way that our hair needs a bit more TLC to flourish.
She enrolled in the Institute of Trichology in 2013, finishing her 2 years of studies with her own clinic based in the Embody Wellness, Vauxhall every Friday and Saturday. One thing I love about this new school of Trichologists is they are bridging the gap between old school practices and masters, and what we have adopted on our own. Keeping the knowledge scientific but relevant to us as well. The conversations that need to be had between traditional hair scientists who cannot fathom black hair practices like weaving and braiding and the consequent implications of traction alopecia and our culture of adapting to new worlds and preserving our roots. The constant need to wear these styles and stay connected to who we are no matter the follicles we drag from our sub dermis. We could all come to an impasse, where we wear these styles proudly but are educated about the possibility of hair conditions we may need help with in the future.
In the next blog post, we will delve into the ultimate naturals guide to taking care of our hair, sun damage and when protective styling is relevant; winter or summer.