Wedding Hair Politics with Errol Douglas Salon: Natural Vs Relaxed

The psychology of hair (especially black hair), is not a new debate. The assumptions placed on what makes a woman feminine or beautiful based on hair length and hair type are endless.

The opinions on what brides should do with their wedding day hair are immense.

 ‘If you always wear it down, maybe you should wear it in an up do for your wedding day’. Why? For me, I wanted a cute and short wedding style and when I shared this, everyone said I should have it long. I bowed to the pressure in the end and that’s before I even get into the complexities of afro hair!

I was talking to author and comedian Aleisha McCormack on a (wedding) Bridechilla Podcast (formerly Save The Date Podcast) (approx 21 minutes in if you don’t want to listen to it all ). We touched upon the intrigue, mystery and versatility of afro-hair and some of the assumptions, expectations, opinions and wedding hair politics that surround it. Including the reason behind why there is such mystery and intrigue, because of the lack of exposure to afro hair in the mainstream or outside of our own cultures.

Some brides feel like they need to, or simply want to straighten (relax) their hair, others feel like relaxing their hair means they are becoming too westernised ( I’ll save this debate for another time!), others want to keep their hair in its natural form, the way God intended, and others simply don’t want to bow to society or pressure and express themselves differently.

So I thought I would try to provide a little inspiration if you are unsure what direction to take with your afro hair for your wedding day with some hair care and styling tips along the way. AND if like Aleisha, you aren’t in the know and are intrigued, who better to inspire and educate us other than 2015 Nu Bride Ambassador; Errol Douglas Salon. The team are leading hairdressers and the only salon that cater to ALL hair types – with specialists in european, international and of course, afro hair.

Over to the brilliant Wayne Shorter-Campbell: Joint Head of Errol Douglas Afro Bridal Team

The Natural V’s Relaxed debate is a staple feature in the Afro hair arena and, given the variety of styling options they provide between them, it’s a discussion that we enjoy at Errol Douglas Salon.  When it’s in the context of Bridal hair, it’s particularly important and our bridal clients are even more keen to discuss and be guided on the possibilities for wedding day styling for natural and relaxed hair.

The Errol Douglas Afro team style for the individual – their look, their lifestyle and the overall vibe of the wedding.  (Nu Bride: That’s what I like to hear Wayne!)

For me, what’s paramount on a wedding day is that the bride looks herself – her very best self, and this more than any other factor should determine the base decision on natural vs. relaxed.   Before a look-book and  before our overall consultation check list, we like to have a real understanding of who the bride is, by having this information and discovering her lifestyle outside of the big day, really guides me on answering questions on the right bridal look for her in the natural vs. relaxed question .

The great news is that both (natural or relaxed hairstyles) have their advantages and signature finished looks, so it’s really important to consider the day, the dress, the location, the vibe and the level of maintenance in the run up to the wedding before deciding.  Here’s a few points to consider when deciding between relaxed or natural for a wedding and some of my personal tips and product recommendations on both too:

Advantages of styling natural hair for the big day

solange-new1-aSource: Hello Magazine | Solange Knowles rocked her natural hair on her wedding

  • Less pre-wedding preparation: With no chemical services to carefully time, natural reduces a “hair to do list” somewhat as you’re working with the natural flow of the hair, and don’t need to consider syncing appointments for trims, relaxer touch ups and possibly colour work around the latter.
  • Natural hair can cover two options in just two lengths: It covers big statement (Solange) preferences and low key complexion centre stage preferences (Lupita). Looked after in the run up to the Wedding, natural needn’t be low key in its finish as is often assumed.

natural hairActress Lupita Nyong is renowned for her low & natural elegant hairstyles| Source: Abaca


  • If you’re just working with natural hair there can be limitations in the extent of variety of styles available, particularly in length and texture, so if you’re attached to a classic Up Do for the big day, this might not be the option for you depending on length.
  • Condition is more crucial with natural hair as it’s not blended with pre-styled pieces, a good hydration plan is crucial.



Errol-Douglas-Wedding-Hair-Inspiration-John-Nassari-Photography-www.nubride.com_0435.jpgPhotography: John Nassari | Hair Eve Owusu at Errol Douglas

Advantages of styling relaxed hair for the big day

Princess Love Wedding

Pharris Photography | Celebrity, Princess Love went for a sleek simple look for her wedding 

  • As a trade off for appointments and delicate timing required as part of the run up to the wedding schedule, it can be lower maintenance on the day: Once it’s styled it’s styled.
  • Versatility – relaxed hair allows extension options for quick length and the choice between up and down looks.


  • Colour work is limited as it’s an extra chemical process, which means a vegetable colour palette only and a limited possibility of bespoke hand-painted or face framing colour options
  • Don’t underestimate the addition of diary dates to wedding planning: relaxers synced with colours synced with trims synced with root maintenance…all around the wedding date. Choose an experienced afro stylist has an understanding of the bridal calendar.

Errol Douglas

Hair: Anna Baker at Errol Douglas


  • Work with an experienced afro stylist to get a look that matches the dress and your overall wedding vibe. What’s really important is getting a perfect colour and texture match for any hair pieces (extensions). All hair pieces are not created the same, so don’t compromise on quality, and work with a stylist that is experienced in all brands, all types so they can advise from their own knowledge bank
  • Pick the right product to get the right ‘shine’ for wedding photos, especially as your hair has undergone chemical processes – I find that Keracare Silken Seal Spray really does finish a blow dried look (up or down) perfectly.


Photography: John Nassari | Hair Wayne Shorter-Campbell at Errol Douglas

  • If you want minimal adjustments throughout the day and evening, opt for an up-do and choose an accessory for embellishment in the evening for a quick change if you’d like to mark the transition from day to evening.

Fantastic. Some brilliant tips from Team Errol. Thank you Wayne!

Unless otherwise stated: images courtesy of Errol Douglas Salon.

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8 Responses to “Wedding Hair Politics with Errol Douglas Salon: Natural Vs Relaxed”

  1. Laura
    April 1, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    Great article, I think I’d be a ‘natural’ bride personally, I’d want something simple and elegant. Plus Moroccan oil gets me through the week with my hair, I can’t praise it enough 🙂

    • Nu Bride
      April 2, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

      Hi Laura, sounds perfect to me and that you know what you like and suits you best. That’s all what it comes down to I think. Ps. Well done for discovering Moroccan hair oil. How did we ever cope without it?!

  2. Chantal Mallett
    April 1, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

    I was on a shoot for Pride once & what I didn’t realise, as someone with western hair, was that afro hair can break off very easily especially if it has been relaxed. I always imagined it was quite strong so was surprised & I can’t be the only one so I would think, unless a bride with afro hair is wearing her hair as she does regularly, a stylist who knows afro hair is essential. Great article by the way Nova x

    • Nu Bride
      April 2, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

      Hi Chantal, thanks for your comment. Yes indeed, the texture of black hair might be thick but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more durable. It’s prone to a LOT of stress depending on what we do with our hair, (stress from braids and extensions, stress from chemicals etc), so regular treatments to maintain and nourish are key. That’s why there is so much £ in black hair, I’m at the dressers every 2 weeks! Lol! My hair is currently relaxed and is prone to breaking and needs careful handling, which is why I am so particular with who touches it. I think it’s imperative stylists are exposed to and know how to handle all hair types. I’ve been on photoshoots before where hairdresser’s are afraid of afro hair or just don’t know how to handle it. Usually because they’ve only ever been trained to work with European hair. It’s a shame. I always have to go prepared to do my own hair on shoots. So yea, having a stylist who is skilled to work with afro and ALL hair types is essential. Personally I think It should be taught as standard in hairdressing schools don’t you think? X

  3. Naomi
    April 2, 2015 at 7:08 am #

    Good article, looking forward to reading more. In my hairstylist days I always encouraged brides “to be” to be as natural to the “normal” them as possible. If they we’re normally brunette your wedding day isn’t the best place to start for the platinum blonde. Likewise for black woman if you normally wear your hair natural don’t get it pressed just for the day. When you look back at your wedding pictures you’ll won’t to see the real you….maybe a more fabulous version but still you….anyhow what is important is feeling most comfortable on the day. For me that will prob be a hair down do, as I get headaches quite quickly and something tells me I’ll be on edge most of the day anyway I don ‘t need a headache making that a worse!

    • Nu Bride
      April 2, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

      Brilliant advice to be yourself (the best version) on your wedding day. And not to feel uncomfortable by trying out new drastic looks or styles that aren’t ‘you’. Those photographs don’t lie! Great comment. Thank you Naomi!

  4. Voyteck
    April 7, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    great article!

  5. Asma
    April 8, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

    Natural all the way for me!

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