By Jackie Celestin-Andre

The Natural Hair Academy, in its fifth edition, is the definitive event for Afro-French women who have transitioned to natural hair, or those who want to. This highly anticipated one day event took place on a Saturday in March and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how enlightening it was to attend.

Outside the US, American Black women are highly esteemed for the care of their hair, setting trends, having the best products and having knowledgeable experts. So it goes without saying that a contingent of Black Americans, all professionals in hair, dominated the Natural Hair Academy and gave conferences and workshops (translated into French). In addition, many Black French women--bloggers, journalists, hairstylists, and cosmetic brand owners--stepped up to help out.

Topping the list of American experts were Felicia Leatherwood, My Natural Sistas, Dickey of Hair Rules, Lisa Price and Edwin Batista of Carol’s Daughter (who brought Tiarra Monet), Whitney of Naptural85, and Deshonica Kerrie of Designs Essentials. I had the pleasure to meet and interact with all of them, except Natural Sistas (hopefully next year!).

The highly popular Parisian experts included: Clarisse Libene, Fatou n’Diaye, and Kelly Massol, the founder of a hair care brand The Secrets of Loly, to name but a few.

The event started early and the workshops I had the opportunity to attend were well done, informative and educational. They were jam-packed with curious women absorbing knowledge, but also being inspired and encouraged to love who they are and what they have (natural, curly hair).

Following in the footsteps of Black women in the USA, where the use of hair relaxers have taken a steep double digit decline, Afro Parisiens are wearing their hair natural with a lot more confidence and ease. Many Black women in France have been relaxing for years, so having their natural hair texture is extremely new to them; thus education, products, styling tips and options are so necessary. And this is where the Natural Hair Academy succeeds in doing very well.

Jackie Celestin-André is a Brooklyn born beauty, fashion and healthy living aficionado, with a penchant for wines and French foods (including anything chocolate and pastries), currently living in Paris, France. She is a marketing and diversity professional working for the global leader in beauty, and writing about beauty brands, events, and French beauty makers. Her goal is to bring readers a little closer to Paris without their ever leaving the USA.