National Hispanic Heritage Month: The Latinx Legacy in the Natural Hair Community

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of Latin culture. We honor the legacy of  revolution, and trendsetters that have inspired the hair and beauty industry to reach new heights. From the Golden Age of Hollywood to the trending age of Instagram, the evolution of natural hair has been built from the legacies of many dynamic women. That enduring legacy continues in today's rising stars.
For decades, Latina women - and countless other ethnicities - have been conditioned to view natural hair as unprofessional and undesirable. Eurocentric beauty standards have shaped the bias with which we approach hair care as well as how we view our identity. This is especially true within the Afro-Latin community. Natural hair and beauty blogger, Rocio Mora of RisasRizos.com, summarizes the complex impact of racism within the Latina community when it comes to loving our curls.
"It's called pelo malo, which translates to "bad hair." In most Latin American countries, having curly hair is considered a bad thing. Why? Well, to put it bluntly, it means that you have African roots and in case you didn't know, in many Latin American countries, racism is still very much real. Many people want to straighten their hair to 'fit in' with what they feel is the standard for beauty in America. Hair is a sensitive subject in the African American community. In the Latino community, though, no one really talks about it because there aren't enough people willing to accept the fact that they have African roots and surely don't want to be labeled as "Afro Latina." So the conversation is rarely had."
Beautiful hair deserves to be talked about. These negative ideas about natural curls have no place in our world. We're continuing the conversation and celebrating the women who are reclaiming their natural heritage. Join the team at RevAir as we walk through history and connect with our present, exploring the impactful influence of the Latinx community on natural hair.

Natural Hair Through History, Pioneered by Latina Women

Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno was "feeling pretty" long before her appearance in Spielberg's remastering of her most iconic film, West Side Story. The Puerto Rican actress, dancer, singer, and triple threat stage performer is among the few Golden Age starlets who are still dazzling audiences to this day. Moreno appeared in several theatrical productions including Singing in the Rain, The King and I, and, of course, West Side Story both on stage and screen. A true groundbreaker who started her acting career in the 1950s when opportunities for Latina women were severely limited, she was the first Hispanic woman to win an Oscar, Tony, Grammy, Peabody award and achieve PEGOT status.

Throughout her career. Moreno never failed to stun with grace and natural hair beauty. Her most notable look was, of course, her curly, beatnik style bob that combined the best hair trends of the 60s and 70s with bold, natural waves not often seen on the silver screen.

La Lupe

La Lupe

When it comes to the queens of soul, La Lupe ranks among court royalty. The Latin soul legend brought passion and fire to every performance. Alongside her contemporaries, La Lupe brought salsa to the world. The Queen of Latin Soul was known for her iconic bangs and long tresses. She often rocked a classic 1960's beehive, adding flavor to the traditional styles of the time. One of her most memorable natural hair looks highlighted the cover of La Lupe's Strange Flowers album where the bombshell performer debuted big, bold, luxurious afro-esque curls.

Celia Cruz

Celia Cruz

The stunning Ms. Celia Cruz helped popularize salsa in the United States alongside serving jaw-dropping natural hairstyles. Her Afro-Cuban roots inspired a love of bright colors and big, bold accessories that were previously unheard of in the muted world of female performers. She was often seen sporting bright sapphire blue, purple, and pink locks. However, what we find most memorable about the immortal queen of salsa are her natural brunette locks and voluminous waves. 

Carmen Miranda

Carmen Miranda

Of course, no list of groundbreaking Latinas would be complete without Carmen Miranda. This Golden Age starlet is best known as the "Chiquita banana girl". Miranda not only stunned in her tumbling curls but worked elements of Latin culture into her style. Bold statement pieces, accessories, and bright colors reminiscent of her Brazilian heritage called attention to her natural locks. Whether she was wearing fruit on her head or simply stunning in her natural waves, Carmen Miranda remains a style icon of Hollywood's Golden Age.

Moving Forward With Natural Hair Trendsetters

Julissa Prado

Julissa Prado

The LA-born Mexican American entrepreneur launched her all-natural curly hair product line in 2017. It's safe to say the natural hair world hasn't been the same since Julissa Prado's debut. Prado's brand is built around the goal of inclusivity. She's worked alongside her dynamic team to develop hair products that work well on all curl types from wavy to coily. Her own Afro-Mexican family background inspired her love of hair care from a young age.

Now, Prado is bringing curly hair confidence to the Latinx community. Her brand is built on the harmony of sustainability, quality, and confidence. With powerful products, it's easy to feel flawless and fierce in your natural hair.

Caroline Contreras

Caroline Contreras

Carolina Contreras, a.k.a Miss Rizos, is building more than a salon. She's created a community to empower natural hair love and inspire confidence in all women with all hair types and textures. Since opening her doors in 2014, Miss Rizos Salon has changed the way many women of color view their hair. Rather than fighting against our beautiful curls, Miss Rizos embraces rich, bold textures with cuts, color, styling, and education.

"This is going to be a place where people can receive a lot of education because we don't believe in creating a dependency between the client and the salon. We believe in creating solutions to people's problems and making them the experts of their own hair and giving them the tools and the resources and the knowledge to be able to care for their hair and in some cases their kid's hair," Contreras says. "Also, Miss Rizos is a community and a social justice project. I plan on hosting classes and workshops, where it's not just going to be just about hair but it's also going to be pretty holistic."

With her first salon opening in the Dominican Republic, Miss Rizos' work has grown enough to open her second salon location this October in Washington Heights,

"If I'm looking in the mirror and I'm loving my hair and I have yet to confront the other aspects of it, which is confronting my blackness, loving my hair makes the other parts easier to navigate and to discuss." Miss Rizos continues to create spaces to empower BIPOC women in healing from Eurocentricty and embracing their natural hair glamour.

Ariana Brown

Ariana Brown

Silenced voices hold a long tradition of expressing themselves through art. Ariana Brown continues the legacy of power, beauty, and grace through her poetry. As an Afro-Mexican member of the LGBTQ, Brown's work "investigates queer Black personhood in Mexican American spaces, Black relationality and girlhood, loneliness, and care." She is an empowering voice within the natural hair community, often relating her enduring and evolving love of her curls to her healing from Eurocentric beauty standards and further defining of self. Brown dazzles with natural curls alongside braids and other protective styles that inspire a deep connection with all aspects of her heritage.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to highlight dynamic influencers in the Latinx natural hair community. Building upon the foundation set by the Latina women who came before us, we continually strive to honor our greatness through the love of hair. 

Mora empowers women further by asserting that "it's absolutely okay to talk about the effects of racism within Latinos because that too has shaped our minds into thinking what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to beauty, including our hair. I'm ready to break the mold and I hope you all can join me for the ride!"

The team at RevAir is delighted to be a part of our community's natural hair journey. We love and honor curls - and know that many of the drying and styling options out there are incredibly damaging to hair's health and natural curl pattern. RevAir, the low-heat reverse air dryer, allows our owners to dry their hair in a way that won't cause breakage and excess frizz - putting the power of choice back in your hands, to rock your hair every day exactly how you feel best.

Have questions about RevAir and your hair? Reach out to our team of Advisors for more information, or check out some resources here