BHIP: How did you wear your hair before you got here?
MW: Before I came to Paris (in 1992), I wore braids. I started wearing braids when I went to graduate school in 1985. Before then, I processed my hair (straight perms, Jeri Curls).
BHIP: What was your hair experience when you got to Paris--were you lucky in finding salons? Products?
MW: I got my hair cut into a short Afro just before I moved to Paris and have worn my hair
in this style since arriving. I brought my “black” hair care products with me (in bulk) when I moved here. I have always purchased shampoos and conditioners that a person of any race can use in stores around town such as Monoprix, Franprix, etc. For products similar to what we used to call “hair grease” ( LOL!), I buy them from the States when I go on vacation and bring them back. A little goes a long way for me!
BHIP: Have you had any bad hair experiences in Paris?
MW: No, but I attribute this to the fact that I am completely natural – no extensions, weaves, or chemicals. It’s pretty easy to find a black hairdresser who can cut men’s hair. When I first came, I just showed a photo of what I wanted and they reproduced it. I’ve only had three hairdressers in 20 years, so they pretty much know what I want.
BHIP: People often talk about the negative effect "calcaire" (limestone), which is found in French water, has on their hair. Would you say it has affected yours? How?
|Monique and Paul Stromberg|
BHIP: You've been here for a long time. Have you seen black hair evolve here?
MW: I remember when I first got here the weaves were HORRIBLE. You'd be on the metro and see tracks everywhere, but really noticeable tracks! Yes, the weaves were horrible! They are somewhat better now. I have never been impressed with the black hair styles that I’ve seen people wear here and that remains true today. I have also remarked that dreadlocks are not at all popular among women here.
BHIP: How do you wear your hair in Paris now-still natural, right?
MW: I am completely natural. This included no coloring – I am naturally salt-and-pepper, with the salt becoming more dominant each year. I have dramatic patches and swirls of white amidst my naturally brown hair. My hairdresser, my mom, and others have commented that my hair looks as though God created a beautiful canvas on my head.
BHIP: Yes, I agree, lol! Where do you get your hair done or do you do it yourself?
MW: I go to a hairdresser for my haircuts. I wash and condition my hair myself.
BHIP: What's your current hair regimen?
MW: Home care two to three times a week; haircut once a month.
BHIP: If you were in the U.S. would you be wearing your hair the same way?
|Monique at Scientific Event|
My current hairdresser takes an hour to cut my hair because she does 99% of my cut with scissors. (There’s always time for a good chat.) When she retires, I may just go back to having the entire thing done with clippers, reducing my time in the chair to a matter of minutes!
BHIP: What advice would you give other black women, especially Americans who are used to have so many choices, about taking care of their hair in Paris?
MW: I would say that if you are moving here, bring a large supply of your favorite products with you so that you can take your time in finding the best place to buy your products here or to find the best substitutes for what you cannot find here. I would also advise you to ask people who have healthy-looking hair and appealing hair styles where they get their hair done. I’ve taken to keeping a few of my hairdresser’s business cards with me so that I can give them to people who ask me where I get my hair cut (this happens fairly frequently). Finally, I would advise you to realize and accept that it may take some time to find just the right salon.
Read Monique's awesome blog Entrée to Black Paris and check out her travel site: Discover Paris!