Lily Lynch

Lily connects with her roots – through her roots.

A quick glance at Lily’s shining blue-green eyes, fair skin and light freckles does not tip you off about the shades of her history. But if you let your eyes wander to the delicate dirty blonde coils of her hair, you just might guess right.

Lily Lynch is a twenty-year-old student from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is blessed with a heritage of Mi’kmaq First Nation, African, and European. “My hair was the element that connected me and made me more aware of my African ancestry.”

Our past informs our future. In her search for discovering her heritage Lily uncovered her passion for black history. “I want to be a junior high history teacher. As I grew up, the only story I heard of black people coming to Canada was through the Underground Railroad. But that’s not the whole story.” In the summer of 2013 Lily worked at the Black Loyalist Heritage Museum and learned about the black female role in history. She studied and shared HerStory.

Lily’s hair journey started off like many black women’s: Lily, her mom, a comb, and a whole lot of imagination. “My mom used to put hats on me. Lots of hats.” Lily’s mother was an adventurer. African style hats, corduroy hats, big hats, pointy hats, braids, poofs – she tried it all. “Sometimes she would gather all my hair on top and tie it together with a ribbon. I liked that. It made me feel kind of pretty.”


At fourteen, Lily grabbed a pair of jagged arts and craft scissors and cut off her hair. “I just felt like it was time.” Lily was the only girl with short hair in high school, and she liked that. She liked being different. All the other girls had long straight hair. “People knew who I was because of my hair. I looked distinct from other people. There were other girls with mixed hair or curly hair, but other girls did the disguise.” Lily describes the disguise as when women are uncomfortable in their beauty and decide to cover it with weaves or extensions. “I feel like the disguise is making yourself into something that you might not naturally be.”


Lily admits that for a long time, she didn’t know how to take care of her hair. “I just did what other people told me to do. I learned by observation.” Lily grew up across the street from two half African half European girls her whole life and would often visit their house and experiment with their hair products. “They usually used Blue magic on my hair to try and make it look like theirs. One time they had this clear gel with sparkles and I was so excited to use it. It didn’t work at all.”

Now she does a lot of co-washing and moisturizes using oils. Lily’s top 5 products are: morrocan oil, mixed chicks leave-in conditioner, coconut oil, conditioners (any kind). And the olive oil brand . Lily’s favourite hair tool is a wide-toothed comb.

Lily admits that for a long time, she didn’t know how to take care of her hair.

Do you know how to take care of your hair?

Jazma Salon Profile

Interview with Jazma Salon owner, Asha MacLeod

Jazma Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

Why did you open your salon?

Read the #HerStory of why Asha MacLeod opened her award-winning salon here

What keeps you motivated?

Kids. Kids who are passionate about hair. When I teach young people about how hair grows out of the scalp. I love to teach them about hair textures, why hair gets dry and other things about black hair. I enjoy when kids come to me with questions and challenge me to do more of my own research. Then I have the opportunity to come back to them with my own research and see their excitement. That’s what gives me the energy to continue every day.

Who inspires you?

The artistic part of me admires artists like Vidal Sassoon and Trevor Sorbie and the black artists that work with them like Jon Atkinson. The first time I saw black hair move was on a Vidal Sassoon stage. I gasped and turned to my mom and said, “I want to do that!”

How many staff do you have?

I have 4 stylists, 1 colour technician and 3 assistants/apprentices.

Jazma Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

What has been your biggest success?

My biggest success has been creating a product line for semi-natural hair and natural hair. We not only created a product line but also encouraged people to enjoy the beauty of afro-textured hair in my seminars and my training. Twenty years ago in Atlanta I started teaching people to embrace afro-textured hair. I feel like I have pioneered the idea.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was business. Because I am passionate about hair and my art, having to do business was a challenge. Dealing with employees has been especially difficult. I don’t like training and then not seeing my employees want to pay it forward. I put so much into giving and sharing. I expect that at least one out of every hundred should be paying it forward! I don’t see that kind of sharing and that’s a little hurtful and challenging.

What do you want you business to look like in 10 years?

I would like to see a bunch of little Jazma’s all over the world with our Kerasoft products. Not because I want to leave a legacy but because I am concerned about the black dollar. The black hair industry is the only industry in the world that blacks have that they can actually rotate their dollar.

Currently, a dollar circulates in the Asian community for a month, in the Jewish community for twenty days, and in the white community for seventeen days. A dollar circulates in the black community for six hours.

What I would like to see in ten years is that my business trains and educates young people on the fact that the only way for the black dollar to grow in our community is in the black hair industry. Black chemists will create the product. Black distributors will sell it, and black people will purchase it. That is the way to strengthen the black dollar. If we don’t do it, who will?

What advice would you give to new Canadian salons or hairdressers?

I would say to remember two things:
  We are in the service business. We are here to serve. We just happen to do hair. If you think of it that way it will make you more successful.
  Continue to educate yourself and share the knowledge you acquire.

What do you specialize in?

Semi-natural hair, hair cutting, and we have one of the best colourists in the world.

I want to explain what I mean by semi-natural hair. Once you put heat on your hair it affects the sulfur bonds so your hair is not natural anymore. Once you pull on your hair with extensions or braids you weaken the elasticity of your hair; the colour from the extensions then bleeds onto your hair and your hair is not natural anymore. When you colour it, it’s not natural anymore.

Here, we say no hair is altogether natural because it has been affected one way or another. So we specialize in embracing natural textures.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

There are many myths out there on the Internet. I would like consumers to think of solubility of products before they use them.

Jazma Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

Remember: if you want you hair hydrated it can only come from water.

If you want your scalp to heal from the abuse of tight ponytails or extensions there is no solution but oxygen. Try getting simple and logical. There is no miracle in a jar. If you want your hair to be long and healthy—avoid certain things. Once your hair is abused and dead you have to grow it out all over again. Don’t trust everything you read or hear on the Internet. Educate yourself from people who have factual knowledge on the science of black hair.

inHAIRitance Salon Profile

Interview with inHAIRitance Salon owner, Abisara Machold

inHAIRitance Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

Why did you open your salon?

I started inHAIRitance 2 years ago because I saw a great need. I moved to Montreal, Canada 4 years ago from Berlin, Germany. I was used to not finding good hair products but I was under the impression that in North America it wouldn’t be difficult to take care of my natural curly hair. It turned out to be a huge problem. I had to fly to Toronto or New York every time I wanted to have my hair serviced.

I was having trouble finding a job in Montreal that was at the same level as what I left in Berlin, so I decided to go back to my first passion. I wanted to change the landscape of natural hair in Canada.

Describe your average customer

My average customer is a 23 to 36 year-old working woman. 70% of my customers are francophone.

Who is your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from my foremothers. Every time I have a hard moment I think back to Maya Angelou and all of the people who paved they way for us to celebrate our hair. They paved they way for us to be able to celebrate our political rights and black feminism. Whenever I am down it humbles me to think of how hard they fought for the next generation of black women to have diverse opportunities.

inHAIRitance Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

What keeps you motivated?

My amazing team. People gave up their jobs to follow my dream. We built a company from scratch. It takes a lot of courage to jump into the boat and decide to make this new idea happen.

How big is your team?

We have 7 stylists, 1 receptionist, 2 sales staff, 1 social media specialist, and me!

What has been your biggest success so far?

One day a woman came into inHAIRitance after surviving breast cancer and she was depressed, dressed in dark colours, downcast. She didn’t know what to do with her hair. Her husband wanted it to be straight again but she didn’t want to put chemicals on it again. We had a consultation with her and educated her about her naturally curly hair. About a year later I saw her at the opening of our new location and she was dressed in bright yellow.

She was glowing. Her hair had amazing growth, she looked beautiful. She said to me, “Abisara, thank you. Thank you for showing me that I am beautiful the way I was created.” I just started bawling.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I love doing consultations. Every time I sit a new person down and educate them about their naturally curly hair they gasp in disbelief and say the same thing: “I can’t believe my hair can do this.” Every time I hear that my heart jumps. It’s all about helping people realize the beauty of their hair and what their hair is capable of doing.

inHAIRitance Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

What has been your greatest challenge?

Hiring staff is a challenge. Finding good staff that is committed. We provide our own schooling, training manuals and education and it’s important to have staff that are willing to tap into a completely new field, new techniques and new strategies.

A lot of the French laws are challenging as well. The name “inHAIRitance” is a jou jou mot they call it in French or a play on words. Health Canada can also pose a problem because I import many of my natural hair products.

What do you want your business to look like in 10 years?

I want to be in 4 Canadian cities: Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal. I want to continue certifying people. My goal is to give a formula to other hairdressers who want to style natural hair but don’t have the structure. I want to spread the news about curlcare. It still shocks me that naturally curly hair is not in the curriculum in hair schools.

Also, I think perms should be illegal at a certain age for children. It is a physical hazard that is detrimental to children’s health. More discussion around this topic is necessary.

inHAIRitance Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

What advice would you give to new Canadian salons?

Start including trainings and education for curly hair. Invest in the education of your stylists. It comes back to you tenfold. Make sure your stylists stay up to date on the latest techniques.

For those that want to start something and have a lot of enthusiasm and energy: do your homework. There are no shortcuts. Each obstacle is a great lesson that sometimes reveals amazing truth. Become an expert in what you’re doing. Consider legal and health requirements. The passion keeps you motivated but your discipline and work ethic are going to keep your business alive.

What is your hairstyle right now? Why?

Right now I’m wearing yarn twists. I usually don’t like to wear extensions but yarn provides me with a great new option. It is a protective hairstyle it all its senses. You can hydrate your hair in between. The parts are big because my hair is more on the fine side. It’s super light so that it doesn’t pull on my roots, and it’s really soft. Yarn is different from Kanekalon. Kanekalon is a plastic hair fibre that fights against your hair and because Kanekalon is so strong it always wins. I like yarn braids because I can be confident that I am wearing a protective style that is in no way harmful to my hair. I leave it in for about a month. I love it!

To maintain my yarn twists and keep my hair healthy underneath I spray it with my moisturizing spritz (water, essential oils, aloe, glycerin and others) once a day. Once a week I dry clean my scalp: I take a microfiber towel and put some water and shampoo on it, then run the cloth through my parts of my hair on my roots. I don’t like to wash the yarn braids because I don’t want to wait for them to dry. It’s not gonna happen.

Is there anything else that you want to add?

Our product selection is 95% natural (Diva curl is the only exception, they are 85% natural). We are the only store like that. I want our clients to know that we hand select the products that are best for their hair and they can trust in our selection.

inHAIRitance Black Hair Salon Profile by Black Hair Spot

We offer free consultations.

Most of the time these consultations are hair therapy. We give people the opportunity to talk about their hair journey. For many of our clients it’s the first time they have ever been given the opportunity to freely express their relationship with their hair.

My Natural Hair Journey

With big hair comes big responsibility. The weight of the curls brushing against me was too heavy a burden for my shoulders to bear. My natural hair journey is one filled with ups and downs–disappointments that shook my self-esteem to the core then bounced me back up. My entire being moved to the bounce of the spiral texture that is my hair.

The power of the curl is something only a person with curly hair can understand. I am coming to terms with it, and take each day as it comes, but boy has it been hard.

It is getting better though.

I grew up feeling like some freak of nature. My East Indian roots didn’t seem to sync with my curly fro of a mane. My sister has thick wavy “East Indian” hair. My brother’s hair has always been really thick but too short to make comparisons. How did I end up looking the way that I did? Am I adopted? Do I have African blood in my lineage? Did my mother have an affair and I’m the offspring of a milkman?!

It was hard when I was younger. I remember looking at my cousins with deep envy as they detangled their silky straight hair with a brush. A NORMAL HAIR BRUSH! My hair breaks brushes. They would stand by the mirror and brush their glossy straight hair and look at me with feigned pity and say with a flick of their silky strands, “Aren’t you hot? I feel hot just looking at you”.

I just wanted to fit in and look like the other kids. I would often be the odd one in dance performances – my hair was always in a ponytail because the other hairstyles my dance group would rock wouldn’t hold. The latest hair trends always seemed to favour straight hair. At swimming practice, my hair wouldn’t stay in my swim cap, leaving my hair drenched and green after every swim practice. I didn’t know where to start when it came to styling it. I always wore it up in a ponytail pulled so tight I would get headaches, all in the hopes that my new growth would somehow be straight.

Growing up, my mum took care of my hair–she brushed and tied it every morning. Being the strong-headed child I was, at the age of 10 I proclaimed that I was old enough to take on the responsibility of styling my own hair. My mum protested, I protested even harder until she eventually gave in. I was in over my head by the first day. My baby chicken arms would hurt trying to brush my knots out. What did I know about sectioning? So I fell into the routine of brushing just the tops of my hair, tying it into my too tight ponytail, then rushing out of the house before my mother could get the chance to see me.
This routine continued for 2 weeks, before I was eventually caught. I remember sitting in the special chair my mum kept to sit on when she did my hair, my knees shaking and my lips quivering knowing the neck yanking that was to follow. My knots were so bad and my hair so matted that the only solution was to tie my hair in a ponytail and chop it right off. I was sent to school with eyes puffy and red and visions of my mangled ponytail on my bedroom floor.

Haircuts are a nightmare. I dread having to walk in to the hairdresser and have all the stylists gather around and stare at my hair, while sneaking pity looks at the stylist that has to deal with my mane. I guess you could say that I am a stylist’s nightmare, and my doubled bill represents it. The first time I ever did anything with my hair was in high school when I relaxed it. The results were disastrous. Apart from the burns behind my ears, only the top half of my hair straightened. To my disappointment, my bushy ponytail remained despite numerous attempts to tame it chemically.

I then began straightening my hair with a flat iron after I finished high school. Yes, it took 3 hours every week and I would have to wake up an hour earlier every morning to touch it up–but in my mind, it was worth it. I could do what I wanted with my hair. I didn’t stand out. I looked like every other girl walking down the street. That was what I needed at that time in my life. Looking back, I guess you could say that my straight hair was my safety net. I looked the way I was expected to and didn’t draw too much attention towards myself.

My turning point came about 5 months ago. My lifestyle had changed. I started living a healthier, more conscious lifestyle. Yoga consistently became part of my daily routine, and I became more aware of every ion in my body and every strand of my hair. With sweating daily came the realization of how impractical it was to spend all that time manipulating my hair. So one day, I let go of all the preconceived notions I had about my appearance, and went natural.

The key to living with my hair natural is taking every day as it comes, and learning to let go. In that way, my hair has been a guiding metaphor in my life. My hair has taught me so much about myself. I have learnt to let go and acknowledge that I can’t control everything, and that’s ok. I appreciate every stranger that comes up to me on the street, and entertain the men at that bar that respectfully ask to touch my hair. Embracing my hair has taken me a step closer to the individuality we all seek to have. I love my hair through the good and bad, but especially on the days when the stars align and it does what I want it to. It’s been 5 months and there’s no going back.

My Heat Damage Diary

As much as I love my natural hair, sometimes I just feel like telling shrinkage to eat it and go back to straightening my hair. The problem is that for most curly haired women, regularly applying heat can be very damaging to our hair.

When I was in my teens, every three months or so my mother and I would have a similar conversation: “Ma, can you please relax my hair? Please.” “No. I made a vow that I would never relax my children’s hair. When you’re an adult and no longer live under my roof, you can do whatever you want to your hair.”

I, like many other black girls my age, disliked my hair in its naturally coily form. I didn’t feel I looked beautiful. No matter how long I begged, my mother refused to relax my hair, so I did the next best thing. I straightened the life out of it.

All throughout high school and for most of junior high I straightened my hair every single day. The process went like this:

  Day 1: My mother would wash and blow-dry my hair. But it wouldn’t be straight yet, so…
  Day 2: My mother would hot comb my hair. Still not straight.
  Day 3: I would use my Chi straightener and straighten my hair on 300 degrees Celsius before school. Finally, bone-straight locks.

I was addicted. I loved the shiny smoothness of my straightened hair. When my hair was curly I didn’t feel like myself. I looked different than all of my friends and felt different. And different was bad.

Then it started to break.

Black hair is 91% protein made up of long chains of amino acids. Heat damage did two things to my hair: it reduced the amino acids and caused breaks and cracks in my hair. The first change was a chemical change. When I regularly applied heat to my hair an amino acid called tryptophan was slowly eliminated and the protein make-up of my hair was reduced.

Because too much heat was applied to my hair fibres, the cuticles began to break and chip. The heat drew moisture out of my hair and left it dry and brittle. My hair is very coily and naturally dry . The constant heat was too much for my hair to withstand.

I lost most of my hair before I decided to go heat-free. My hair went from just past shoulder length to a self-made pixie cut in a matter of a year.

When I realized that my hair could not withstand heat in even small doses, I was pissed. “It isn’t fair,” I thought “how come my sister can straighten her hair without damage but when I do it I loose handfuls of hair?”

At some point I had to get over the jealousy, accept my hair, and love myself through the learning process. There was no point drooling over my sister’s hair while mine still needed styling.

Every person who uses heat to style their hair needs to be cognizant of heat damage. Some people are affected in different ways. My hair falls out when I apply heat to it, while my little sister’s hair does fine with heat styling once or twice every few months. Listen to your hair. Because I know that my hair does not withstand heat well, I almost never apply heat to my hair. It has been over a year since I even blow-dried these kinky locks.

If you do decide to use heat to style your hair, be sure to use a heat protectant that is right for you. Heat protectants prevent the full transfer of heat from your device to your cuticle. This lessens the amount of proteins lost during the styling process. Heat protectants also coat your hair before styling to guard against breakage during heat styling.

Black hair is 91% protein made up of long chains of amino acids #bhs #blackhair Click To Tweet

What are your favourite heat protectants? How often do you style your hair using heat? Comment below!

A Head Full of Wool: The History of Black Hair in North America

(photo source:

Where did the story of black hair begin? Too often we begin black people’s story with slavery – when we know full well that the African story began in Africa.

Before Slavery

Early in the fifteenth century, African hair was a distinct form of communication. African hair spoke of age, marital status, ethnic identity, religion, wealth, and social rank. For instance, in the Wolof tribe of Senegal, young women would shave a portion of their hair to tell the bachelors that they were single and ripe for the picking.

Africans knew their hair was beautiful. They would spend hours washing, combing, and oiling their hair to ensure it remained healthy. Africans used to use elaborate combs, brushes, and ornaments like cowrie shells to highlight the beauty of their hair.

The Birth of Good Hair

Africans were taken from their homes and sold into slavery in the 1700s. Black people were taught that to look European was to look beautiful. This is when the term “good hair” came into being. No, Chris Rock did not coin the phrase. Good hair was smooth, silky and straight. Bad hair was kinky, short and coarse.

From that point onward, Black people in North American began to do everything in our power to change our hair texture to look more like the straight hair of white people.

I shift impatiently on the two pillows I snagged from the couch to sit on. My hair is freshly washed, but not oiled. My mom doesn’t oil my hair before hot combing it anymore. She’s tired of my squeals of discomfort. When the steaming metal comb gets too close to my roots it heats up the Blue Magic on my scalp and my head feels like it’s going to boil away. So I scream and I cry.

My mom walks into the living room and sits behind me on the couch, her legs on either side of my shoulders.

“Ma, I think it’s ready now,” I say. It’s important that she doesn’t leave the hot comb in its oven too long. Last time that happened I lost a significant chunk of my hair. She doesn’t answer. She lifts up the heavy metal comb, rubs it with a towel, blows on it, and brings it to my roots.

It makes a ttssssssshhhhhhttt sound as it straightens my coily tresses. “Aaahhhhhhhhhh!” I complain noisily. No oil – but the heat still burns my scalp. My mom pauses and I can feel her disapproving scowl.

“Do you want me to stop?” She asks, annoyed. “No ma,” I answer quickly. Tomorrow is my first day of grade 10. I can’t go to school with cornrows anymore. That’s for kids. I need to look beautiful.

In 1909, Garrett A. Morgan invented the first hair relaxer. He was working with sewing machines in his tailoring shop when he noticed that a chemical he was using straightened the fibres of woolen cloth. From this realization the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company was born. Morgan first sold to black men who were interested in straightening their kinky hair, and then began to sell to black women.

Annie Malone became one of the first self-made black millionaires in 1920 when she patented the hot comb. The invention was initially developed in France for women with curly hair who wished to temporarily straighten their hair.

A Change of Attitude?

In the 1970s, things began to change. Political activists like Angela Davis began to wear their hair in afros and the Black Power Movement gained popularity in America. Black people of all ages began to grow their natural hair into afros in solidarity of the movement. But like many other hair crazes; the afro was popular only for a season. The popularity of chemically straightened hair remained.

In 1977, the Jheri curl chemical process exploded. The Jheri curl allowed black people to have smooth curls without the frizz of the kink. Achieving the Jheri curl look was not easy. It required a two-step application process. Wearers first applied a softener that loosened the curls, and then applied a chemical solution that permanently curled it.

The definition of good hair began to change in the 80s. Black people started to rock everything from the braids Janet Jackson wore in Poetic Justice to Lauryn Hill dreadlocks to long Beyoncé-blonde wigs and weaves to Erykah Badu head wraps.

In 2009, Solange did what the natural hair community now calls the “big chop”. She cut off all of her hair to start afresh. She went natural. Since then multitudes of black women have followed her lead, cut off their relaxed or damaged ends, and gone natural.

And now we are in the midst of a hair revolution. If you don’t believe me, type “natural hair” into Google and you’ll see millions of results. Black women in particular have begun to embrace the natural texture of their hair. After centuries of weaves and chemical straighteners we are now attempting to understand how to care for our hair in it’s natural state. Black women are investigating the intricacies of the strands that grow out of our scalps. Many black women are learning how to care for our hair for the first time in our late 20s, 30s and even 40s.

I think it’s beautiful.

That’s why in 2012 I decided to go natural. It wasn’t easy. My long straight weaves were my foundation and I didn’t feel attractive showing my natural curl pattern. I still struggle with self-image and at times yearn for my 20″ remy. But my personal conviction has been to find beauty in the natural texture of my hair.