This year TRI team member, Ayinoluwa Abegunde, published her first book about caring for textured hair, ‘The Koyld Hair Guide: A Joy Filled Guide To Fulfilling Your Koily Hair Dreams, Volume 1’ (available from Amazon). In this article, Ayin explains what drove her to work in hair research and to write the book.
Ayin writes……….’When I stopped chemically straightening my hair, I didn’t know what would grow out from my head as my real coily hair texture. When I did, I had no clue how to take care of it, what products to use, what styles to wear and neither did most people around me. I had initially decided to study chemical engineering to work in the beauty/personal care industry, particularly in makeup and skincare. Then, while researching on how to care for my hair as it meant a lot to me to learn to love it and care for it, I discovered the intricate and interesting science behind hair and since then, I wanted to learn more. I knew I wanted to do something in the hair space but I wasn’t sure what the career prospects were for someone who didn’t want to work directly in a salon.
I remember finding out about TRI on Instagram and being mind-blown that hair research existed. I followed a trichologist, Ebuni, who was updating her followers at the International Trichology Conference in the UK in 2019. She posted pictures of the slides and I noticed citations at the bottom. I immediately began taking screenshots and scouring the internet for the papers. MIND BLOWN! I was impressed and inspired by the detail in which hair was researched and immediately knew, this is what I want to do! This is what I’ve been waiting for.
A few emails later, I got invited for an interview, interned at TRI in Fall 2021 as the initial date, Summer 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic. Now, I work full-time as a Research Associate at TRI Princeton. It’s been a fulfilling journey from consuming the numerous training and educational resources offered by TRI during my undergraduate degree to getting to train on measurement techniques I once found confusing while reading research papers, with renowned scientists I look up to, and research directly on intriguing topics in the forefront of the hair industry.
While I studied these papers, books and watched educational videos, I began to think about how I could use this information to better help consumers struggling with their hair. How can I use research data to create techniques that can help our daily hair routine? As I have coily hair, the least researched hair type which requires a different level of care, I was determined to use the research available to translate them into techniques that could help me better care for my hair in a healthy way that helped me retain the most length. Since then, I began sharing these techniques with the world. Most of the information available online for textured hair was experiential, based on bloggers sharing what has worked for them. Consumers are left to find bloggers with similar hair types as them, just by sight to determine whose advice may work for them. This method has served a community desperately in need of learning how to love, accept and care for their hair but is not sufficient. Every head of hair is different and even though one may have the same hair type as another by sight, other factors such as surface texture, weather, nutrition, genetics, lifestyle also affect the techniques and hair products one uses to care for their hair. For instance, if the blogger frequently visits the gym, the frequency with which they wash their hair and use a clarifying versus a conditioning shampoo or the decision to style their hair in single or flat twists, will be different from someone who doesn’t work out much. Factual information from hair research can be used as a strong foundation from which techniques can be strategically devised to help consumers better care for their hair, given the various factors that can contribute to hair breakage, feel and loss.
I wrote the Koyld Hair Guide as an introduction to science-backed techniques on how to care for coily hair from detangling, cleansing, conditioning and bonus points on hair accessories like scarves, bonnets, pillowcases, etc. However, most of the Koyld Hair Guide addresses an area often left out from hair conversations in the scientific space, the psychology of hair. Textured hair is not just about the science of caring for it, for how do you care for something you don’t love? The long history of hair-discrimination has birthed feelings of undesirability, insecurity and unwillingness to own one’s hair texture. Most research on textured hair used to be on ways to straighten it, and thankfully we are now seeing an increase in research on textured hair itself and how we can better work with its structure to produce good results. TRI’s Textured Hair Consortium project is a phenomenal and commendable example of sound research to deepen our knowledge of textured hair.
In the Koyld Hair Guide, I take readers on a journey of detangling their thoughts - being aware of their true feelings towards their hair, good and bad and examining what may have contributed to them, beginning the process of changing their mindset towards their hair by leaving unhealthy hair thought patterns, feeding their mindset with positive hair think patterns and experiences, and finally enjoying life with full acceptance of the masterpiece they were made to be. This Is the journey I went on that helped me love my hair, care for it, and be proud of it and I share it with the world. For clients who want more personalized help and accountability, I offer Hair Consultations that combine scientific knowledge as a Hair Scientist and experiential knowledge as someone with textured hair that I interact with daily. I help them create a personalized hair routine to suit their lifestyle, recommend hair products to reduce the long, frustrating and expensive trial and error process to find what works, hold their hands through the process of wearing their hair out more and having a positive hair mindset, finding hairstyles that suit their personal style and teaching them how to achieve them, and offer solutions to struggles in any other areas clients need help in.
The Koyld Guide offers a template for which users can use to evaluate other aspects of their life that they need to gain confidence in such as their body image and more. The goal is not to thrive on people’s insecurities, but to guide them through overcoming them and using science to help that process - it is easy to love something that is (made) easy to care for - the right knowledge through research facilitates this.’
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