Danyale Thomas Ross went natural in 1992, but not only did she give up straightening her own hair, she insisted on no longer using relaxers on her clients, too. “Following the birth of my daughter,” she says, “I became really aware of the damaging effects of chemical straightening.” Damaging effects that include hair thinning and loss, scalp lesions, and allergic reactions.
Thomas took that chemical-free commitment with her when she moved from Seattle to Oakland in 1993 and stayed true to it when she came back and opened Good Hair Salon in the Central District in 2006. It was the city’s first exclusively natural hair salon. Turns out Thomas was ahead of her time: It’s only recently that we’ve seen trend-setting icons like Solange Knowles, Zendaya Coleman, and Tracee Ellis Ross flawlessly rocking box braids, locks, and afros on the red carpet.
The local natural-hair community has only grown in the last decade. The Seattle Naturals Facebook group organizes meetups in which members share knowledge, tips, and stories for mastering twist-outs and growing out afros. (The one thing everyone can agree on: Moisturize.) And more salons, like Rainier Beach’s I Am Natural Beauty and Lakewood’s Mahogany Soul, have opened to offer monthly deep conditions, trims, trendy protective styles, and low-maintenance locks.
Wherever you go, if you go natural, take Good Hair stylist Eka Siufanua’s advice: “Get ready for your curl. Embrace it.”