Joyce Caruso Corrigan
April 11, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In the new movie Beauty Shop, starring Queen Latifah, audiences are treated to a sassy send-up of African-American women’s particular obsession with, to paraphrase the film’s DJ character, getting their ”crop dusted, ‘do did, and flip whipped.” It’s a welcome reminder of the wild inventiveness of black hair culture — the ‘fros, cornrows, microbraids, corkscrew curls, weaves, and outright sculpture — which, aside from American Idol finalist Nadia Turner, doesn’t get much of a workout these days. ”It’s glamour hair and having lots of it,” says Chuck Amos, a stylist specializing in African-American hair and a favorite with slick and smooth poster girl Naomi Campbell. Amos thinks black celebrities like Halle Berry and Beyoncé play it superstraight because they can: Although straightening is still time -consuming, today’s tools and techniques are more efficient and less destructive — even if Amos does refer to his toolbox as ”my stove.” It’s where he keeps ”the flattening irons, hot combs, and my fabulous EdgeStick. Black hair needs the heat!”

Still, there’s something to be said for the natural look — which, says Amos, is starting to make a comeback. ”You know who I just loved at the Oscars? [Best Supporting Actress nominee] Sophie Okonedo! She didn’t do anything to her hair; it was so refreshing. The other girls — and their hairdressers — went through such torture!” Amos, who gave America’s Next Top Model host Tyra Banks a red ‘fro last season, muses: ”The new black hair will be natural but more structured. Maybe not an Afro, but a half-ro.”

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