Dallas Women are Trending Towards Natural Hair, and this New Salon is Ready for Them

Audra Cooper is an unlikely salon entrepreneur. A CPA with more than a decade's worth of experience in the HR field, it seemed her life was tidy, on track and heading in a predictive direction. In fact, aside from the occasional servicing appointment, hair was never something she considered with great frequency. All of that changed when she took the plunge, and exchanged chemical products for a natural hair lifestyle. From the core of her being to her life's goals, every piece of Cooper has transformed. And on Saturday, she and others will share their stories at the opening of her new salon, Naturally Divine Beauty.

So what's all the hair hype about going "natural" anyway? Well, for Cooper it can be summed up in a word: pride. There's a longstay idea that beauty is linked with the naturally unattainable: a head of long, straight, glossy, flowy hair. But that's changing. Women of color are joining the natural hair movement, recognizing that without the chemical processing needed to force conformity, their hair grows longer and healthier. Add on that chemical relaxers have been linked to fibroids in black women, and the economic strain of maintaining chemical upkeep, and we see why the women of Dallas are demanding natural alternatives. They want control of their lives back.

Audra Cooper is going to give 'em exactly that, and her shop is designed to become Dallas' natural hair nexus, providing advice, organic products and salon services.

She started small, in a humble Grapevine Mills Mall kiosk focusing on beauty supply. But now? "My store is the specialty store for natural hair," says Cooper who's selling products that, until this week, Dallas residents could only find online. That means women can now test these items and know they work, rather than plunking down a Paypal transfer and hoping for the best. For those who want a complete education, "Natural Hair 101" is offered. It's an informative session covering everything from how to get your hair to grow, proper pH balance and healthy styling techniques.

Transitioning from chemically processed hair can be intimidating, and possibly not for the most obvious and superficial reasons. The act of embracing your natural textured hair and viewing its kinky, coily, wavy growth as beautiful, instead of untamed, requires a mental and emotional change. Plus, there's the initial "big chop," where all of that chemically treated hair is removed, and length is lost.

Starting from scratch with shorter hair can make women feel boxed in, and limited with their styling options. But Cooper promises that's a misconception.

"Your hair doesn't always have to be in an afro at all times," she assures."There is such versatility and flexibility." If you don't believe her, plan a visit. You'll find more than 25 brands of organic product (useful for natural or relaxed hair), including Uncle Funky's Daughter, Curl Junkie, and Mixed Chicks, just to name a few. And you'll find Audra Cooper, who's positivity and empowering nature seem to fill as much space as the products themselves.

The store's grand opening runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, and features product demonstrations, food, live music, plenty of swag bag giveaways, and an open forum of women sharing their experiences. Naturally Divine Beauty is located at 3556 Forest Lane in Dallas.

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