(RNN) - African American women are saying goodbye to straight hair and hello to the natural kinks and curls growing from their own scalp.
Naturally kinky and curly hair has always been around. Women like Diana Ross and Pam Greer helped make the Afro a mainstream hairstyle that swept the globe.
"In the '70s the natural hair movement was a political statement, this time it's more of an emotionally charged statement," said Mahisha Dellinger, founder of CURLS LLC. "We want to embrace ourselves, and say 'I love who I am, the way I am.'"
Viola Davis, who starred in the hit movie Prisoners, told Essence Magazine she never felt pretty until she began to embrace her natural hair.
Now a large community is embracing locs, curls and Afros inspired by celebrities like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Solange Knowles, Esperanza Spalding, Corinne Bailey Rae and many more.
Oprah Winfrey, one of the most influential public figures worldwide, posed for the September issue of O Magazine wearing a big natural hair wig she named "Wild Thang," joining the natural hair movement when she revealed her own natural Afro in the magazine.
Since the movement began, unruly hair and exotic beauty has made fashion statements in magazines and on runways.
Hair care has been a lucrative business in the United States for black entrepreneurs, from Madam C. J. Walker who was among the first female, self-made American millionaires, to former Black Enterprise 100s companies Johnson Products, SoftSheen, and Pro-line. These companies opened the door for other black entrepreneurs, who ran the largest black-owned businesses in the 1970s and '80s, according to Black Enterprise.
Today, most hair products for black consumers are no longer produced by black-owned companies, except for those in a new and growing area. Increasingly the sweet spot is natural hair products that are looking for a piece of the black hair care market which, according to the market research firm Mintel, is worth $684 million.
"There's currently about a 35 percent decline in the sale of relaxers and by 2017 it's supposed to decline up to 50 percent, so it's continuing to further decline," said Dellinger. "There has been a shift and companies are more geared towards selling natural hair products.
Concerns about the safety of hair products that straightens and changes the texture of black women's hair is another driving force, she said.
"The more and more we warn people about the dangers of relaxers, the more and more you'll have people going natural," Dellinger said.
With all the progress of hair companies catering to "natural needs," the various naturlistas online have created a space for informative tips, reviews and styles, according to Ebony Magazine.
Natural hair bloggers Cipriana Quann and Nikisha of Urban Bush Babes, Mahogany curls, Naptural85, Taren Guy, NikkiMae2003, HeyFranHey, Sporty Afros, Hair Crush, Fusion of Cultures and My Natural Sistas have contributed to this movement by inspiring a wave of viewers with YouTube videos and blog sites.
"Natural hair is what you're born with, it's about reverting back to who you are," said Dellinger. "What I want to accomplish is to give women an alternative to relaxing. Further your research on YouTube, on how to take care of your natural hair."
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