For African-Americans, shorter hairstyles date back to African civilization where both men and women wore closely cropped hairstyles. These styles allowed for easier management and often fostered hair growth. For aesthetic reasons, many African-Americans with shorter hair opt for textured hairstyles that can create dynamic and creative looks while remaining manageable. These hairstyles can be achieved via relaxing, straightening or perming the hair.
African-Americans often use relaxers to create wave or curl patterns in their hair. One style, the “Jheri Curl,” is a short, hairstyle that results from relaxing the hair. Invented by Irish-American Jheri Redding, the style was popular among both African-American men and women in the 1980s. “Jheri Curl” products are still used today. This hairstyle must remain wet to prevent drying of the hair, which is achieved via activator and moisturizer sprays.
The “S-Curl” is a style worn predominantly by African-American men to straighten their hair. “S-curl” relaxers contain lye and as with “Jheri Curls”, this hairstyle is maintained with activator and moisturizer sprays. “S-Curls” were popularized in the 1990s and its texturizing kits are still sold.
Layering is a popular textured hairstyle for African-Americans women with short hair. Layering is the result of straightening the hair via straightening combs, blow-drying or hot curling irons. One such style, the “short-layered bob,” has become extremely popular because of its manageability and the added accent it gives to the face. Additionally, highlights or bangs can be added to the style for more variety. The “short-layered bob” has been worn by African-American celebrities such as Rhianna and Nia Long.
Perming is the process by which chemicals are used to change the texture and look of the hair. For instance, straightened hair that is permed will become curly. One of the methods used to obtain curls is to coil the curls in hair rollers or rods. The press-and-curl style worn by Madame C.J. Walker in the 1930s is a textured hairstyle for short-haired African-American women who want a sophisticated but glamorous look.
Pin-curl hairstyles, though predominantly popular among white women of the 1940s and 1950s, are also worn by African-American women with short hair. Curls can be pinned to lie flat on the head or be pinned on an angle. Generally, pin-curl styles are easy to sleep with. Pin-curl hairstyles are typically worn for formal events such as weddings or proms.
References and ResourcesTreasured Locks: Black Hair Care Tips, Style and FAQ's
LovetoKnow: Short Black Hair Styles
The Fashion Bomb: Black History Beauty Trend
Beauty & The Bath: Black Hairstyles for Beautiful Black Hair