Conk

The conk (derived from congolene, a hair straightener gel made from lye) was a hairstyle popular among African-American men from the 1920s to the 1960s. This hairstyle called for a man with naturally "kinky" hair to have it chemically straightened using a relaxer (sometimes the pure corrosive chemical lye), so that the newly straightened hair could be styled in specific ways. Often, the relaxer was made at home, by mixing lye, eggs, and potatoes, the applier having to wear gloves and the receiver's head having to be rinsed thoroughly after application to avoid chemical burns. Conks were often styled as large pompadours although other men chose to simply slick their straightened hair back, allowing it to lie flat on their heads. Regardless of the styling, conks required a considerable amount of effort to maintain: a man often had to wear a do-rag of some sort at home, to prevent sweat or other agents from causing his hair to revert to its natural state prematurely. Also, the style required repeated application of relaxers; as new hair grew in, it too had to be chemically straightened.

Many of the popular musicians of the early to mid 20th century, including Chuck Berry, Louis Jordan, Little Richard, James Brown, and the members of The Temptations and The Miracles, were well known for sporting the conk hairstyle. The gatefold of the 1968 album Electric Mud shows blues legend Muddy Waters having his hair conked. The style fell out of popularity when the Black Power movement of the 1960s took hold, and the Afro became a popular symbol of African pride. The conk was a major plot device in Spike Lee's film biography Malcolm X, based upon Malcolm X's own condemnation of the hairstyle as black self-degradation in his autobiography because of its implications about the superiority of a more "white" appearance and because of the pain the process causes and the possibility of receiving severe burns to the scalp.

The conk is all but extinct as a hairstyle among African-American men today, although more mildly relaxed hairstyles such as the Jheri curl and the S-curl were popular during the 1980s and 1990s. While not involving the use of chemical relaxers, the "wave" style, commonly worn by young African-American men and teens in the 2000s may be considered to be a new version of the conk, in that the natural hair is waved through use of pomades and pressing flattened curls into place using a do rag.

Human hair
Body type
  • Lanugo
  • Androgenic
  • Terminal
  • Vellus
Hairstyles
  • Afro-textured hair
  • Afro
  • Artificial hair integrations
  • Asymmetric cut
  • Backcombing
  • Beehive
  • Big hair
  • Blowout
  • Bob cut
  • Bouffant
  • Bowl cut
  • Braid or Plait
  • Bun
  • Odango
  • Bunches
  • Butch cut
  • Buzz cut
  • Caesar cut
  • Chonmage
  • Comb over
  • Conk
  • Cornrows
  • Crew cut
  • Crop
  • Croydon facelift
  • Curly hair
  • Curtained hair
  • Devilock
  • Dice Bob
  • Dido flip
  • Digital perm
  • Dreadlocks
  • Duck's Ass
  • Emo Hair
  • Fauxhawk
  • Feathered hair
  • Finger wave
  • Flattop
  • Fontange
  • French braid
  • French twist
  • Bangs / Fringe
  • Highlights
  • High and tight
  • Hime cut
  • Historical Christian hairstyles
  • Hi-top fade
  • Induction cut
  • Jarhead
  • Jewfro
  • Jheri curl
  • Layered hair
  • Liberty spikes
  • Long hair
  • Marcelling
  • Mod haircut
  • Mohawk
  • Mop-Top
  • Mullet
  • Oseledets
  • Pageboy
  • Part
  • Perm
  • Pigtail
  • Pixie cut
  • Pompadour
  • Ponytail
  • Queue
  • Quiff
  • "The Rachel"
  • Rattail
  • Razor cut
  • Ringlet
  • Shag
  • Shape-Up
  • Spiky hair
  • Straight hair
  • Tonsure
  • Updo
  • Waves
Facial hair
  • Beard
  • Chin curtain
  • Chinstrap
  • Goatee
  • Handlebar moustache
  • Moustache
  • Neckbeard
  • Shenandoah
  • Sideburns
  • Soul patch
  • Stubble
  • Toothbrush moustache
  • Van Dyke
Other areas
  • Head
  • Nose
  • Ear
  • Underarm
  • Chest
  • Abdominal
  • Pubic
  • Leg
Hair loss
  • Baldness
  • Glabrousness
  • Hair removal
    • waxing
    • threading
    • laser
    • IPL
    • chemical
    • electric
    • plucking
  • Shaving
    • head
    • leg
  • Razor
Conditions
  • Alopecia
  • Hypertrichosis
  • Trichophilia
  • Trichotillomania
Related
  • Hairstyle
  • Hairdresser
  • Barber
  • Long hair
  • Hair color
  • Hair coloring
  • Bearded lady
  • Hair fetishism
  • Pubic hair fetishism
Category
Hair

Other articles related to "conk":

Inonotus Obliquus - Name
... It is also known as the clinker polypore, cinder conk, black mass and birch canker polypore ... In England and Canada, it is known as the sterile conk trunk rot of birch, which refers to the fruiting bodies growing under the outer layers of wood surrounding the sterile conk once the tree is dead ...
Spidey Super Stories - Episodes - 1975–1976
... "Spidey Gets the Old One-Two" June Angela Conk (Jim Boyd) and Bonk (Luis Avalos) were ordinary third graders until a bully stole their lunches ... The duo dress in black suits and derbies and assault their victims Conk with a large mallet to the head, Bonk with a boxing glove to the stomach, grabbing their ... Note Conk and Bonk were a parody of the Alka-Seltzer commercial running at the time the personifications of headache (Conk) and upset stomach (Bonk) would ...
Afro-textured Hair - History - The United States - Abolition of The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
... or to hot-comb their hair (rather than conk it) in order to temporarily mimic the same straight style without permanently altering the natural curl pattern ... Popular until the 1960s, the conk hair style was achieved through the application of a painful lye, egg and potato mixture that was toxic and immediately burned the scalp ... Jazz musician Eddie South sporting a conk, or congolene, hairstyle, 1946 African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman with styled afro-textured hair African American woman with 'Afro ...
Spidey Super Stories - Episodes - 1975–1976
... if he had a webbed head, he'd be Spider-Man! "Spidey Gets the Old One-Two" June Angela Conk (Jim Boyd) and Bonk (Luis Avalos) were ordinary third graders until a bully stole their lunches ... The duo dress in black suits and derbies and assault their victims Conk with a large mallet to the head, Bonk with a boxing glove to the stomach, grabbing their ... Note Conk and Bonk were a parody of the Alka-Seltzer commercial running at the time the personifications of headache (Conk) and upset stomach (Bonk) would assault people who ...