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VOL 3. NO. 33 Monday, August 27 - Sunday, September 2, 2001
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Why Are Black Women Losing Their Hair?
Renowned Stylist Provides Some Answers
By Monique NEWELL

Getting a do at Avante Garde Hair Gallery

Hair Care Products by Fletcher

Nationally renowned stylist Barry Fletcher had promised friends and colleagues a first-of-a-kind book about African-American hair and he has done just that with "Why Black Women Are Losing Their Hair," which was featured in the July issue of Essence Magazine. Since it's release a year ago, the self-published guide to black hair care is already in its second printing with 10,000 copies sold and has evoked some strong emotions from his clients.

Fletcher, 44, is the owner of Avant Garde Hair Gallery in Seat Pleasant and distributes hair care products that bear his name. He carved out a reputation for being a visionary and innovator, according to those who know him best, before retiring last August to devote more time to writing and conducting seminars. Over the years his client list has included scores of high profile entertainers and celebrities including Tina Turner, Toni Braxton, Chaka Khan, Eartha Kitt, Iman, Halle Berry, Prince and Donnie Simpson.

His new book is a bold move even for him because he details for the first time some of the hidden secrets about the hair care industry and gives advice on how African-American women can save their hair from damaging chemicals often found in hair care products used by stylists. Fletcher documents and supports his findings about the deteriorating state of black hair, with scientific proof from a variety of medical professionals, including dermatologists, medical doctors and other top hair professionals.

The 189-page hard cover book also provides historical information about the development of black hair, including the startling revelation that black women's hair is considerably shorter today than it was 50 years ago. There is medical advise from doctors, historical information about the development of the hair care industry, insight from his own experiences as a stylist, testimonials from clients and appraisals from men who provide different perspectives about their likes and dislikes in hair. Advice on hair care, nutrition, styling and treatment is also provided.

Chapter contributors include Washington Post columnist Donna Britt; Dr. Sandra Gilman-Baldie of Madison, Ala; Dr. Ollie Goodlow, Laurel, MD; Dr. Akmal Talib Muwwakkil, Washington, D.C.; Dr. Cylburg Soden, Laurel, MD; Dr. Valender Calender, Mitchellville, MD; and ALelia Bundles, Alexandria, VA.

There has never been another book written like this before," said Fletcher. "This is ground-breaking for the hair care industry. I maintain that this is the first complete book that will give women the information they need to diagnose their situation. I feel it's a must-read for every black woman and hair dresser in America."

Fletcher said the response to the book has been overwhelming. "I've been on the road doing a lot of signings and there is a lot of passion about this book," he explained. "In fact, I'm working on another one. We're adding new material all of the time. Women are really taking this book personally. I believe there could be as many as one million black women out there who are having problems with their hair and don't know what to do to save it. This book is for them."

Fletcher said he thought long and hard before writing the book. "I wanted to empower sisters to control their beauty destiny," he said. "Even some of the hair dressers have a thing or two to learn about hair care. I wanted to give women a cause to reflect. This is not all heavy-duty stuff." He added, "There have been a lot of heated discussions about some of the topics discussed in the book. I think a lot of women who have seen the book take the book a little too personal. The book is not about them losing hair, but that's the way some of them take it. I touched on a vanity point. Some women feel as though it's an admission of guilt if they read it. My goal was to make the book fun to read. I wanted to give women something they have never read anyplace else."

On September 11 at 7:30 p.m. Fletcher will sign and discuss his book and storied career at Largo-Kettering Branch Library, 9601 Capital Lane. Admission is free. Call 301-336-4044.

To comment on this or any other story email editor@metroconnection.info.

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