Andre Walker Clarifies His Statement About Kinky Hair

by West Parsons on July 8, 2011 · 20 comments

in celebrities, entertainment

You may remember recent statements made by Andre Walker (Oprah’s personal Hair Stylist) in an interview with Elle Magazine about kinky hair:

“I always recommend embracing your natural texture. Kinky hair can have limited styling options; that’s the only hair type that I suggest altering with professional relaxing.”

He recently posted a letter on his website, Andre Walker Says clarifying his statement and addressing the seeming internet backlash which developed from the statement above:

“That statement is a very short version of what I also said in my book all those years ago, but almost immediately after the Elle article, the internet was abuzz with people questioning why I would recommend chemically relaxing a particular hair type Some even said my advice suggests that kinky hair is “bad” hair.

Let me first say that there is no such thing as “bad” hair, and I have long ago freed myself from being afraid to use the word “kinky” and also from being accused of not liking natural hair. We have become a multi-cultural society that embraces many different looks and styles when it comes to hair. It is my Mission to help you grow strong, healthy hair, and wear it in the style or styles that best suit your likes and particular hair type.

When it comes to curly and kinky hair (there is a difference), I leave the political correctness of “going straight” or staying natural to a woman’s personal preference. Once again, my advice is based on how to best achieve strong, healthy hair. So for those who would like to engage me in a debate about who has more racial pride and self esteem, based on hairstyle preference and use or non-use of chemical relaxers, know that I believe in personal freedom, and in the use of advanced technology when it yields positive results, which many of today’s (versus yesterday’s) chemical relaxers do deliver.

It is a fact that kinky hair (my Type 4 definition) is extremely fragile and breaks easily. Even when you are very careful, something as simple as combing can break this texture. It is very difficult to achieve a longer length when the hair breaks, even with simple combing. That being said, there is the style option of wearing braids, dreads, or twists, which allows the hair to grow longer because it is combed less often. Another style choice is to simply wear a shorter cut, which is very attractive on some women but just not right for others.

So when I say to embrace your natural texture, but consider relaxing kinky hair, am I contradicting myself? I don’t think so! You see, even relaxed hair can still be worn naturally. If you want a natural look, but find that your kinky hair is difficult to manage, breaks too easily, lacks shine and luster, and limits your preferred styling options, I say feel free to consider a mild chemical relaxer, sometimes called a texturizer, that eases your hair to a more manageable texture and allows you to Make Peace With Your Hair.

We’ve come a long way in the ability of chemical relaxers to gently relax the hair. In fact, I notice that my book is somewhat dated in that respect. When I wrote it, I was not a fan of no-lye relaxers. But now they are much improved, and I use them when I know it will help a client to maintain either a “natural” or a straight look — whichever she prefers — with more ease.

Mandatory for all hair types, and extra mandatory for curly, coarse, or kinky hair — Condition, Condition, Condition !

My Mission in the products I develop and in the professional advice I offer to Everyone of all hair types — Make Peace With Your Hair.

My Message for everyone who questions the integrity of my advice regarding coarse/kinky natural hair — All hair is GOOD hair. Healthy hair is BETTER hair. I will always offer you my BEST hair advice.”

What are your thoughts on this matter?

{ 20 comments }

Danyelle July 8, 2011 at 10:46 am

I think Andre just dug himself deeper into this. He is still contradicting himself because you’re no longer natural if you have a mild relaxer/texturizer…..he can give it up now, lol

Miss Amma July 8, 2011 at 11:10 am

Yes, he just put both feet in the grave with this one. He still doesn’t get it. He must not know about people like Chime, Longhairdontcare2011, or Sera2544 (all Youtubers) who have the so called “infamous” kinky hair type and have grown it to waist length! Is he seriously advocating that texlaxing still means you’re natural?! Short hair looks good on some, but not on others? WTH?! He just needs to stop talking. He totally DID NOT redeem himself with this response. To be a well-renowned hairstylist, one would think he wasn’t this ignorant about natural hair. Smh…

Jennie July 8, 2011 at 11:41 am

Why do we have to scrutinize every single opinion said about “natural” hair? He is entitled to his OWN opinion. We don’t agree. SO. WHAT. He gave his professional advice and it is our choice to take it or leave it.
There are so many definitions/standards for what “natural” hair is. I was told my hair is no longer natural because I colored it before. I have heard that it’s no longer natural if I use a chemical. Everything we use in our hair has a chemical makeup/structure, including water. In that case, we can’t use shampoo, conditioners, gel, creams, moisturizers, leave-ins, etc. I just think its ridiculous and taken overboard at times.

It’s all about opinions and we are all entitled to our own. I guess I just get tired of so many discussions about what this person said and that person did.

Tah July 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I couldn’t agree more. It’s sooooo ridiculous to the point where I don’t even want to read about articles about people’s views on “natural hair”. And I honestly don’t feel like he said anything wrong, and this is coming from someone with “natural hair”. He recommends relaxing kinky hair because of the limited styling options and ability to easily break…is that not true? It depends of what your views of what’s limited styling options are. And yes I know it’s possible to grow natural hair. Like you said it’s his opinion, he’s not bashing anyone, and some of us “natural ladies” need to get over it. I’m all for “natural hair” but I’m not mad at anyone who decides to relax or texlax their hair. It seems like some of us naturals have a heart attack when people voice their opinions about our hair, but we voice our opinions about relaxers and chemicals just as much. Kind of a double standard, in my opinion. I chose to embrace my natural texture and I’m happy for everyone else who does so. Hair is hair do what you want with it and let others have their opinions!!

dee July 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Thanks Jennie, I agree with you 110%. This natural hair thing has boiled out of the saucepan, on to the floor and out through the damn door. It is sickening and I’m so tired of hearing a noise over every comment that someone makes about natural hair. It’s up to you as an individual to do what you want with your hair. If he suggests a relaxer, who cares? You can either take his suggestion or don’t take it. Stupse.

Karla July 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I agree with Jennie, Andre is entitled to his opinion. People are always going to have their opinion concerning this topic, it doesn’t mean it’s true because it is just that an opinion. It’s disappointing because there are so many misconceptions out there about natural hair and in the position Andre is in comments he make feed into those misconceptions but it doesn’t change what I know is true about the beauty of our hair. Keep doing you and rock your hair with pride despite the naysayers and people will see the truth in your confidence.

pretty July 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

blechk. I think this guy is just old. There are so many ways to take care of ‘kinky’ hair now in days. And I have to disagree there is no difference between ‘kinky’ and curly hair. My hair has tiny tiny little beautiful curls…so that is curly hair. This guy is kinda old and probably has some old notions/hatred that are embedded in his psyche about black people/hair. Yes, your hair is more prone to breakage being natural but there are many products now that you can use to keep its moisture. You don’t need to get a texturizer (imo messes up your curls and makes it half curly/half frizzy)/relaxers. And who says only long hair is beautiful anyway. Hair at any length is pretty. ehh. I don’t need a long haired wig to only be beautiful. yuck. so many misconceptions about what is beauty from this guy. He needs to get with the program. bald is beautiful, curly is beautiful, red/green/fro-hawk are beauty. ehh this guy makes me mad.

NaturallyEnlightened July 9, 2011 at 12:26 am

Jennie and Tah, while you both have valid points. There are defintley enough natural hair “Nazi’s” to make you roll your eyes twice. I do not believe that is the argument here. Andre Walker is right now a world renowned hairstylist. I mean look at Oprah’s hair, he obivously knows what he is doing! But when an indiviual like this takes his personal opinons on hair and turns them into fact that is something that has to be questioned

For instance he makes generalizations that someone in his profession should really just know better. Such as kinky hair is difficult to grow. The natural hair community proves time and time again that natural hair is no more difiicult to grow than any other type of hair, when we stop expecting it to act like anything other than what it is. This types of “observations” are exactly the ones as naturals we are trying to defy. Natural hair does not need to be made more “manageable” in order for it to thrive!! While relaxers are a viable option for any woman who wants them, relaxers are just that an option and should not be touted as neccessary or easier to acheive healthy hair.

Had Andre Walker simply had the professional integrity to state that he simply prefers certain hair types relaxing or using a texturizer on their hair, then there would be no problem because he is entitled to his opinion. But to take anecdotal statements and state them as fact, when one is aware of the importance of their input, saddens me. But hey Andre sure can do hair!!!!

Tarren July 9, 2011 at 10:15 am

I agree with everything you said here.

Angel July 13, 2011 at 7:15 pm

I agree !

Think of handling a baked potato just out the oven, doing so with your bare hands would make “managing” said potato extremely difficult if not damaging to the hands. However, after becoming educated on how to “manage” said potato as is, one would probably have an easier and more pleasing experience.

I have always been baffled at the concept of altering kinky hair by straightening it in an attempt to make it more manageable. I would always ponder, “Geez, well how are you managing it? I can see what you mean if the tool you’re using is that fine tooth comb, how will that get through your kinks?”

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but as a previous post explained, passing off your opinion as fact decreases your creditability as a professional and master of your craft. Again, since it is true everyone is entitled to their opinion Andre Walker should just be frank and explain his preference on the management of kinky hair. His opinion does not have to be adopted but at least it might be respected!

Kerin July 19, 2011 at 3:05 pm

And the choir sings Amen!!!

Melissa Richards August 10, 2012 at 1:08 am

I am a natural woman, have been natural for 6 years now and have recently toiled with the idea of returning to relaxers. Therefore, I am thoroughly convinced that Andre’s comments have some credibility. I am almost certain that if I were to meet you in person and examine your hair, I’d find that your natural hair is far from being close to that of a 4b texture, therefore I do not expect you to understand the plight of women who have to deal with the dichotomy of loving natural hair, but at the same time, knowing that it will always take much more to maintain than women with much softer textures. To women like me, the issue of manageability is not only real, but is something we must face every day. It’s real when I condition my hair and pamper it with deeply rich creams and treatments, only for my thirsty locks to soak up all of the conditioning like a desert in a matter of 30 minutes or less, leaving me with dry, kinky, challenging and brittle locks almost instantly as if nothing had been done at all. It is apparent that you do not speak for all natural women, nor do you understand the plight of some women who are natural, evident by that falsehood of your statements that natural hair does not need to be manageable to thrive. Perhaps for your hair this is true, for mine, not so much. Hair gets readily damaged and brittle when it is dry. When hair is in this brittle and damaged state, it falls out more easily when you comb it or attempt to style it, and at times it may shed more than usual for no reason at all. This is counterproductive for hair growth; it limits any attempt of growth, thus making it virtually impossible for hair to thrive in a state of unmanageability. My natural hair is perpetually dry, thus causing damage leading to hair breakage, which inhibits growth. Andre made valid points, which shouldn’t be judged or criticized. I have found in my years of having natural hair that women with natural hair tend to have this superior complex that they are somehow better because their hair is “natural.” Women with natural hair look upon women with relaxed hair with disdain and are quick to crucify anyone, who fails to align themselves under the same umbrella of beliefs. This is immature, ignorant and stupid. The notion that your hair is healthier simply because it is natural is false. If your natural hair breaks off all the time, it would probably be best to consider other options. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and women with natural hair need to get over it, jump down from their high horses and come back down to earth.

LaTasha July 9, 2011 at 8:35 am

While I agree with Jennie and Tah that Andre has a right to his own opinion, I would say that is a little too simplistic. Andre is considered an expert in the field and as an authoritative voice on the subject of hair, his words carry weight. This means that for many, the professionals and amateurs alike, his word can be seen as fact. So he can not get away with just having an “opinion” that urges what is best for hair.

nika July 19, 2011 at 7:31 am

Totally agree with you!

Tarren July 9, 2011 at 10:14 am

How can you achieve a “natural” look with relaxed hair?? Just wondering…

mira July 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Wow he needs to shut up!!! I have 4b/4c hair texture. My hair broke off more with a relaxer than it does now and I’m natural. I think the problem here is that many women don’t know how to take care of there hair relaxed or natural. You have to understand that if more women knew how to take care of there hair then hair stylists wouldn’t be in demand so much. I’ve had a hairstylist say some crazy things regarding natural hair also.

mira July 9, 2011 at 8:02 pm

And another thing if kinky hair is so fragile as he put it explain to me why would you then put a relaxer in it??!! I agree that you can be curly without being kinky and vice versa. You can be both kinky/ curly what in the world is wrong with him.

Vonmiwi July 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I’ve been wearing my au naturel for over 30 years and to me a relaxer is relaxer, I don’t care how advanced they’ve become over the years. Seriously, isn’t it about time that women stop taking advice from male hairstylist whose opinions we don’t really need?

mimi1970 July 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Andre’s message about managing hair is self serving….of course he would advise kinky hair clients to get a relaxer because it makes his job EASIER! Hair stylists are about themselves…they make your hair superficially “good” and manageable so they can quickly do your hair and move you out for the next victim. No wonder they hate natural hair and long hair we cut into their bottom line.

Another point is that Andre endorsed Dr. Miracles relaxer just by having it featured prominently during the Oprah show…..do you think he did that for free??? The hair/relaxer giants see their bottom line being threatened by the natural movement and who carries the most influence with the AA community??!! get one of Oprah’s gurus to endorse relaxing and hit pay dirt.

Kerin July 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I cannot agree anymore with mimi!!! You hit the nail on the head!