Roots of a Hair Style
Straight hair has been the trend for a few seasons now,
so it’s only a matter of time before waves and curls bounce
back into salons across the States and the Atlantic.
A wealth of different cultures form an integral part of
the history of the USA; each nationality and ethnic background
bringing a rich source of style and colour. Black Americans
have a lot to be proud of in their heritage and a growing
number of salons actively encourage their clientele to embrace
their past and create new styles from old traditions.
are changing; the world has come a long way from
the trend of head shaving, to signify a form of
freedom. An individual can choose curls, braids,
weaves, corn rows, dreadlocks, coils, twists or
natural (give up the relaxer, pass through the transition
and go natural ‘sister’). We all want healthy, beautiful
hair in whatever style helps us project our own
Compared with other hair types, the chemical make
up of hair is the same for African-American hair
as it is for other skin tones. It has a cuticle
(outer layer), a cortex (middle layer made up of
keratin, moisture and melanin, giving hair its colour),
and a medulla (the centre of the hair shaft). The
difference to Caucasian hair lies in the wave or
bonding pattern, which relates to the structure
of the hair; the tighter the bond, the curlier the
hair. Its texture varies through fine, to coarse
and the curl pattern can be straight, wavy, or very
The father of hairdressing Jheri Redding, invented
the ‘Jheri curl’ that swept through the African-American
community throughout the late 70s and 80s. It was
a style that gave a loosely curled, glossy look
and has been worn by many, including singers Michael
Jackson, Lionel Richie, actresses Lela Rochon and
The Jheri Curl is often incorrectly spelled as Jerry or
Jeri and was a perm that loosened the waves of naturally
tight curls by using a softener or rearranging cream, then
the hair was set on perm rods and a further chemical used
to permanently curl it.
To maintain the style, wearers needed to apply a daily activator
and heavy moisturisers, some even slept with a plastic cap
on their heads in an attempt to stop the hair from drying
out. The side effects meant the hair became very greasy
and could stain clothing or anything that got too close!
These styling products could be removed by washing, but
the damage caused to the hair then became visible.
Not surprisingly, the hairstyle went out of fashion by the
early 1990s and was replaced in part with the ‘high top
style came and went; probably because of the time
involved in the upkeep, but not least, due to the
damage the harsh chemicals inflicted on the individual’s
hair. Leaving it dry and brittle, prone to breaking.
Extreme cases suffered damage to the scalp, with
burning from the strong chemicals. The ‘Jheri curl’
products used by Michael Jackson, while filming
a Pepsi commercial in 1984, were rumoured to have
contributed to the serious scalp burns he suffered
at that time. A very ‘BAD’ hair day!
The Great Inventor
Jheri Redding was a stylist based in Chicago. He was one
of the first to understand that the hair is made of protein
and as such, he thought it would respond well if treated
with protein. Enabling the damaged hair to be repaired and
smoothed. He created the Crčme Rinse (now more familiar
as ‘Conditioner’), it was set to revolutionise the hair
care industry and has been used ever since.
Perhaps it was rather fitting, that as a result of a ‘Jheri
curl’ individuals with stressed out hair, generated an even
greater demand for conditioners that could repair the damage.
Mr Redding, has brought the hairdressing world many other
wonders, including the concept of pH-balanced shampoo, covered
hairdryers, perms, shampoo bowls and a variety of other
salon tools. One of his early companies called Redken, specialised
in the first-ever Ph-balanced hair care products. He also
patented a protein-based Interbond Conditioning System.
The company was later bought by L’Oreal in 1993.
New Decade of Beauty
or Binding Together
He formed another company called Nexxus, with his
son, Stephen J. Redding, an established beauty care
professional. The name came from the Greek ‘Nexus’,
meaning connecting or binding together, they added
an extra ‘x’ to Nexxus to reinforce the philosophy
behind their product development, of Nature and
Earth united with Science.
They worked well together as forward thinkers who
had creative and business talents. Developing new
effective ingredients that many others have tried
to emulate: antioxidants, proteins, vitamins, and
botanicals. Using organic as well as synthetic polymers,
they set the standard for the future of hairdressing.
Redding and his son strongly believed that human hair was
a ‘living’ not ‘dead’ part of an individual, and as such
its condition would respond and improve with the correct
treatment. They recognised the polymers that benefit the
structure of hair and noted that hair needed different care
on a weekly basis or through the changing seasons. They
also understood that no two individual heads of hair are
the same, even if they are from the same race or family
background. It was perfect for developing products that
could be more effective and specialised. Consumers and salons
have continued to use their hair care range and many have
been influenced by the work done by the Reddings.
By Heather Bell