The Rains of Castamere

yellow umbrella

‘Cause that’s the result of rain on Afro-textured hair: a Red Wedding-esque obliteration of a well-coiffed hairstyle. I, myself, will duck out of plans due to the apparent imminence of a torrential downpour—anyone with Afro hair would do the same (I have a friend who has rain-dar, i.e. she can sense rain coming quicker than The Weather Network).


This hair won't last in rain.
Afro hair in a relaxed, or straightened, state


Afro hair in its natural state







Rain on Afro hair destroys a hairstyle, like all other hair types. The difference is that in order to get the hair back into pre-rain shape, one must go through the arduous routine of washing, conditioning, drying and styling all over again—we can’t just wash and go. This is particularly problematic with hair that has been chemically (by use of a relaxer) or mechanically (by hot combs or flat irons) straightened, or relaxed. You see, straightened or relaxed hair has been processed to loosen the structural kinks of the hair, in order to make it easier to manage and also to create hairstyles that may not be achievable when Afro hair is in its natural state. Once the processed hair meets moisture (including sweat and humidity), the hair reverts to its natural state, which means it becomes kinky again. Unfortunately, one cannot just blow dry and style again—oh no. Because Afro hair is decidedly dry by nature, it has a tendency to break easily. In the context of excess water and sweat, when the moisture evaporates, the hair dries out, which leads to breakage (the salt residue sweat leaves behind adds another level of dryness and breakage to which Afro hair is particularly prone). This is why when the hair gets wet, it must be washed and conditioned, then dried straight (usually with a blow dryer or hair curlers) and then styled. Yeah, that’s a lot of bloody work, which is why our solution is to stay out of the rain (and the pool, where the chlorine excessively dries out the hair and the chemicals are damaging), and one of the reasons camping in the outdoors is not appealing to us. This is why in any black community around the world, there is a running joke about black women, especially, not going into the pool (although this is changing).


Now those without the experience of dealing with Afro hair may think this is the coolest thing ever and may be tempted to touch said hair, but please hold back such impulses and ask first. We black people are not jazzed about people touching our hair because it makes us feel like a science experiment—like you are at the zoo and decided to pet the animals that are so exotic and are of curiosity to you, yet whose value is only that of entertainment. See where I’m going here? Just.Dont.Do.It.

You have to know the rules to break the rules