Online Community Makes ‘Going Natural’…Well, Natural

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    No matter how you wear your hair, changing up your usual style can turn heads, stop traffic and generate conversation—sometimes good, other times downright inappropriate. I’ve had one too many no-she-did-not-just-fix-her-mouth-to-say-that moments to count and have educated a few people along the way as to why you can’t just touch my ‘fro or refer to my kinks any old kind of way. Through all the bad hair days, expensive product buys and styling slip-ups, I’ve grown to love the decision I made to do the “big chop” nearly two years ago.

    I’m amazed at how many products have come to market, as well as tech tools launched, thanks to the natural hair craze of recent years. As someone who has attempted to go natural, returned to the salon chair for a relaxer and set upon the natural journey yet again—might I add, for the last time, it’s great to see the establishment of an online community of beauty and hair-care entrepreneurs, bloggers and style mavens such as Patrice Yursik of Afrobella, founder of CurlyNikki.com Nikki Walton and hair vlogger Whitney, who goes by Naptural85, among others. Social media has furthered the movement, becoming a pivotal medium for many to share their favorite products, salon recommendations and styling how-tos. It only makes sense with the sale of Black hair-care products generating millions each year.

    According to Nielsen, 44% of all new mobile phone purchases by African Americans are smartphones, which serves as a prime opportunity for developers to target this demographic through apps and other mobile tools. As of June, consumers had downloaded 30 billion apps from the Apple App Store and Google Play, which carries Android apps, saw 15 billion downloads, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog.

    With this app boom, we’ve seen the emergence of game-changing applications that will help those who are transitioning, going under the scissors or just looking to switch things up a bit through their process. There are two apps, in particular, created for women of color by women of color:

    Big Chop

    Available later this month, the Big Chop is a hair makeover app that allows users to try out natural styles. App creator and co-founder of Capital City Apps Arsha Jones made the iOS app specifically for African-American women. To try it out, users must upload their photo to the app and then choose one of more than 250 natural hairstyles, colors and accessories. Black Web 2.0 reports that looks are separated by styles such as TWA’s (Teeny Weeny Afros), Medium, Long, and Braids/Dreadlocks. You can save your style and share it with your network via Facebook, Twitter or email. App users can check out how they’d look with uber-short hair before attempting to do the big chop.

    I Love Your Hair

    This House of Mikko mobile app is comprised of a community of hair care lovers. Users can upload their picture to the platform and search, based on hair color, type of hair, length and style, for a look that best suits them. Like the Big Chop, you can share compiled styles on social media but what sets this app apart is the ability to connect directly with other app users. Get the insider’s scoop on salons in your area, different hair regimens, among other details from fellow app users. “We’re powered by real women, and there’s a real efficiency component in that,” said Kimberly Dillon, founder and CEO of House of Mikko, in a Fast Company feature.

    I Love Your Hair is available for free through the App Store.

    If you’re toying with the idea of going natural or trying out a new style, make sure you are certain before making your next move. Hopefully, these mobile tools will help you make an easy transition into your new look. While there are various hair apps out, it’s difficult to find more than a few that are made for us, by us. But we have yet to experience a shortage of blogs, sites and YouTube videos addressing our tresses.

    Read more: http://www.blackenterprise.com/technology/going-natural-online-community/

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