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Today marks World Afro Day, an important day of celebration and education around the uniqueness of Afro hair. Founded by Michelle De Leon in 2017, this year is particularly important as it’s the day’s fifth anniversary.
"I was always really determined as a mother to have [my daughter] celebrate her hair," she explained on Good Morning Britain. "I didn’t celebrate my hair when I was a child so I thought, I really want her to feel good about her hair. And she did, she was singing [about it] one day.
"I just thought, I want millions of other children around the world to feel positive about Afro hair as well. So that’s why I set up World Afro Day and the date, I thought, needed to be significant."
Michelle chose the 15th of September as this was the same day that a law was passed in Alabama in 2016 that permitted potential employers to refuse to hire people with dreadlocks.
"When I found out about that law in America passed against dreadlocks, for someone who wanted a job, I just thought this is the 21st century; people shouldn’t have laws against their hair. So that was a galvanising moment to say, ‘I want to create an event which is positive about Afro hair and that will change negative views about Afro hair.'"
How to get involved with World Afro Hair Day
This year World Afro Day is sponsored by Pantene, whose Gold Series range is specifically designed for the individual and unique needs of Afro hair and took 15 years to create with Black scientists and dermatologists.
“The fact that Pantene is our sponsor this year means that the message is getting out to a wider audience that Afro hair should be accepted, celebrated and treated as equal across the world,” Michelle added on GMB.
Together with Pantene, World Afro Day is encouraging people to take part in the #FabFroFive campaign on social media and share five positive words about their relationship with their hair – in the face of historic negativity and discrimination.
Another big focus for the day is the Big Hair Assembly 2021, which will livestream in schools around the world to raise awareness and demonstrate important representation. Hosted by broadcaster Yolanda Brown in the UK and also featuring Team GB swimmer Alice Dearing, a massive 106,000 pupils from 237 different schools will take part in the day’s events globally.
"Products like Gold Series from Pantene tailored to protect Afro hair are integral, but we also need to ensure we understand the importance of positive representation of Afro hair at a young age," says Dr Rolanda Wilkerson PhD, the brand’s principal hair scientist who created the range. “For this reason, and as a mum also, I am excited that Pantene has partnered with World Afro Day to celebrate Afro hair and drive awareness of its diversity, uniqueness, and beauty.
“Love of our hair starts at a very early age,” she continued. "Getting schools involved through events like the Little and Big Hair Assembly not only helps children with Afro hair embrace and love their hair and who they are, but also helps those that don’t look like them to embrace, celebrate and understand our unique textures and the beauty that it brings."
Pantene Gold Series Wash Day Bundle, £13 here
Launching just a couple of years ago, the aforementioned Gold Series range took 15 years to create and comprises eight products. This money-saving Wash Day Bundle (worth £19.97 when the products are bought separately) contains the Moisture Boost Shampoo and Conditioner, which contain nourishing argan oil, and the Intense Hydrating Hair Oil.
Imbue Coil Rejoicing Leave-In Conditioner, £8.99 here
Imbue is an excellent brand championing the entire spectrum of curls including Afro hair and is spearheaded by Creative Director and textured hair specialist, hairdresser Michelle Sultan – who styles the likes of Alison Hammond, Oti Mabuse and Alesha Dixon. One of the newer launches from the brand is the Coil Rejoicing Leave-In Conditioner, which is designed for type 4 hair, and like the whole range complies with the curly girl method.
Afrocenchix Swish Sulphate-Free Shampoo, £14.95 here
Sulphate-free shampoos are often gentler on the hair and many hairdressers will tell you they are best avoided by textured hair types (sulphates are a no in the curly girl method too), and features in our guide to the best hair products for natural black hair. Superdrug is offering 3-for-2 on selected black haircare brands, including Afrocenchix products, until the 5th of October.
You can find out more about how you can get involved on the official World Afro Day website here.
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