The Jheri Curl

Explaining to today’s generation the hair fad called the Jheri Curl can be a bit difficult, especially when they have read the Wikipedia article about it. The entry goes on and on about the chemical process of getting a Jheri Curl hair style and that can be a little strange to today’s youth hair styles (which are just simpler).

But if you lived during the 80s and the fads of that decade come up in a conversation, explaining the Jheri Curl is simple enough. Just say that was the name of Michael Jackson’s hairstyle circa the Thriller days, and they’ll understand why it became so popular. Even today, Michael Jackson’s impact on US culture is quite well-known.


Michael Jackson Thriller
Michael Jackson Made The Jheri Curl Huge In The 1980s

The Birth of the Jheri Curl

If you want to appear even more knowledgeable about the Jheri Curl hairstyle, then you need to know about Jheri Redding. This guy was known as the Godfather of Hair, and he was forever famous because he invented the Jheri Curl. Ironically, this hairstyle overshadowed his other contributions to hair care in the media. Almost nobody knows that it was Jheri Redding who invented the modern hair conditioner. It was he who first created “pH-balanced” shampoos, and who first put vitamins and minerals in hair care products.


Jheri_Redding
Jheri Redding, Godfather Of “The Jheri Curl”

The other important figure in the Jheri Curl history is Comer Cottrell. At the time, getting a Jheri Curl meant going to a salon and paying $300. So you could say it was only for the rich.

Comer Cottrell
Comer Cottrell

Cottrell made the Jheri Curl more accessible to the masses, and helped make it become a hairstyle fad among African Americans all over the country. He introduced the Curly Kit, and it sold for just $8. Suddenly people were able to do it at home, and so it became a very mainstream look.

Curly Kit
The “Curly Kit” Brought Jheri Curls To The People!

Of course, once it became so ubiquitous that just about every black guy was wearing it, it didn’t take long for others to lampoon it. The most popular example was the Eric LaSalle character in the Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America, which featured a similar product that gave users a shiny hairstyle and left a stain on furniture.


Eric LaSalle Rockin The Jheri Curl in “Coming To America” 1988

Famous Examples of Jheri Curls

It wasn’t just Michael Jackson (and Lionel Richie) who was sporting a Jheri Curl at the time. Even after the 1980s were over, the Jheri Curl seemed to remain in style for several more years often appearing in popular movies and sported by prominent African-American celebrities. There are variations, so you may as well look at some of the more famous examples:

Ice Cube, the rapper who sported the hairstyle in “Boyz n the Hood”. This became an iconic look that commanded respect: the angry brows under shiny curls.


Ice Cube
Ice Cube’s Jheri Curl In “Boyz N The Hood” 1991

Samuel L. Jackson in “Pulp Fiction”. He played a murderous gangster quoting imaginary verses from the Bible. Who’s going to tell him that the hairstyle was no longer cool in 1994 when the film came out?

Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson Rockin The Jheri Curl In “Pulp Fiction” 1994

A. C. Green. He was an important part of the Laker dynasty back in the 1980s, and the Celtics sure hated him.

AC Green
Basketball Player A. C. Green

Deion Sanders. The guy was all glitz and glamor as he split his time between baseball and football. But he maintained his Jheri Curls for quite a while, and it helped him swagger in the field and in interviews.

Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders And His Jheri Curl

Unfortunately these days finding a good Jheri Curl isn’t that easy. As time went on, modern hairstyles moved away from their oily counterparts to more low maintenance clean cut styles. It does in fact appear that this is one of the styles that died off and is now archived in 1980s fashion history.



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