How to deal with the question: Can I touch your hair? When the answer is: No

In Hair News by Valley Fontaine12 Comments

If you have natural hair I would be surprised if you haven’t been asked: “Can I touch your hair?”   This question can come from anybody, even complete strangers.

It has happen to me many times. The last time in fact was when a black female colleague of mine. We were meeting up in a restaurant with a few others. As I arrived she said oh Valley I like your hair, can I feel it, and before I had a chance to say NO, she ran her fingers across my slicked back pony tail, and I was not impressed.

Dirty Hands  Now it’s not that I thought she had dirty hands, but I had just spent a night with a headscarf on to slick my ‘fly away’ baby hairs down; so the last thing I wanted was someone, anyone, even a friend lifting up, my lovingly tendered edges.

That was a friend, but strangers ask too. Now I don’t want to seem unfriendly, but I just don’t like people touching my hair, especially when it’s followed by them unconsciously rubbing my product which has now soiled their hands, on to their other hand or even their clothes (yes I saw you… circa 1998 Lol).

No you can’t touch my Natural Hair!  So how do you say No without causing offense? Lol!

Here are 4 user friendly excuses:
  1. Oh my hair has lots of product in and it will make your hands all greasy.
  2. Touch my hair? (smile), really it feels no different then yours. Then change the subject.
  3. Pretend you did not hear the question and start talking to them about the weather.
  4. Giggle, and tell them gently that they have just committed what many with our type of hair, would consider a Faux Pas (a social blunder).

Help I’ve only got Four!

So ladies, please add to the list – What would you say if the answer is NO!?

Other  articles:

4 Years of Hair Growth without the Big Chop

4 Tips for a natural looking Wig or Weave 

Is Hair Typing just a gimmick?

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  1. Thank you! I loved your post on the hair touching, has never happened to me personally but I know a few who have and its definitely annoying, smh

  2. Sometimes “No.” is enough and no further explanation is needed.

  3. Hi there Valley,
    I am a naturalista too and I would get random colleagues trying to touch my hair so at first I wore headwraps to hide it but when summer came, it was too hot and then exposed my tresses. A male junior doctor came up to touch my afro puff without asking. Immediately I said sorry, please do not touch my hair! He asked me why and I said that it’s for spiritual reasons and he apologised. I use this comment all the time. I am spiritual and believe people carry certain energies whether it is positive or negative. I believe our hair are receptors of energy so I cover my hair with headwraps most of the time or wear protective styles to keep hands out. I may seem extreme but in other cultures, you wouldn’t dare touch a woman’s hair. We are not pets.

  4. Author

    That’s a great one. I love that he asked why like it was his right to investigate your hair. I wonder if he would have touched a female or a male colleague with hair like his own without asking. He would probably be up for sexual harassment allegations. Our hair for some is viewed with such curiosity that maybe we should start charging lol.

  5. Author

    I agree it should be. But you know what it’s like when it’s someone you may vaguely know it’s more difficult maybe?

  6. There is no need to be nice about not wanting a part of your body to be touched.

  7. I used to have this problem. My hair was really long and my friends wanted to “play” with it. I do not know what compels people to want to touch someone else’s hair. We all know how much effort it takes for someone to do their hair in the morning. Why? I can’t add anything to the list unless we’re offending people. LOL

    Maybe step back, smile and say please don’t touch my hair. Thanks 🙂

  8. Author

    Yes I agree there seems to be some fascination with other people feeling compelled to touch/play with someone else’s hair. Yep stepping back with a smile can work. Thanks Missy.

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