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The Spiritual Significance of African Hair this International Women's Day and Beyond

As women, we feel infinitely more confident when we are having a ‘good hair day’. At Umthi Beauty, we aim for ‘amazing hair days’ where your newly restored and nourished hair is your ‘superpower’. In many African cultures, a person’s hair is thought to hold special spiritual significance too. This International Women’s Day, I’m sharing the beliefs about hair from this wonderful continent where I was born.

Heavenly Hair

It is not just my organic (cruelty-free) products that will give you ‘heavenly’ locks according to traditional African beliefs. Hair has a spiritual meaning.

As the highest point on your body, your hair is also the closest part to the heavens above. This means that strands of hair were thought to ease communication with the Divine Being as a “conduit for spiritual interaction”. Most of the 60+ peoples who call Africa home have a shared “belief in a supreme being” who created the universe.

I think it is comforting to consider this fascinating ‘connection’ during stressful times. And, hair’s spiritual meaning is the perfect excuse to treat your tresses to some tender loving care, whatever is happening in your life.

Trust your Hairdresser

In Africa, hair was seen as a “source of power” because of this relationship with the Divine Being. It was because of the ability to communicate with God via our hair, that the role of styling and cutting hair was reserved for close family members.

In African cultures today, a hairdresser still holds a special place at the heart of the community. As with any other culture, you develop a friendship whilst they provide a sympathetic ear to hear all about what is happening in our lives.

Stronger than the usual bond that exists between hairdressers and customers, it was thought that a single strand of hair could be used to cast spells. You can trust Umthi Beauty’s range of cruelty-free products to ‘enchant’ your nearest and dearest with your hair and its divine herbal scent – no magic required.

Your Crowning Glory

We all feel empowered when we love our latest hairstyle. Whether your hair is straight or curly, it gives us ladies a spring in our step and soon becomes a strong part of our identity.

Similarly, the writer Lori Tharps notes that just about everything about a person’s identity could be learned by looking at the hair” within African tribes. From displaying their spirituality to giving members a sense of belonging within a community, hair formed part of their identity too.

Different African tribes such as the Mwila tribe of Angola remain proud of their distinctive hairstyles. Taking great effort to use natural ingredients thought to have been created by the Divine Being - including herbs, oncula (crushed red stone), oil and powdered bark - tribal members decorate their hair in beautiful ways. This includes decorative “beads, headdresses, braids & locks representative of their beliefs & standing within their groups”. With ingredients that care for your hair, Umthi Beauty can help you achieve a twist out, braid out or Bantu knot using Umthi Beauty’s Handcrafted Leave-in Cream. Which style will you choose to wear this International Women’s Day?

A good hairstyle can make you feel like a goddess – echoing the African relationship between our hair and the Divine Being. Explore the range of floral and woody scented products in our online shop. Plus, every item is unisex - so guys can aim for heavenly hair too.

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