Are we ashamed our natural beauty? Is Relaxed the new natural? Is natural hair not gorgeous anymore? Is straight now really the best hair to have?
Nowadays women give their daughters’ relaxers way too early. Giving your daughter a relaxer at age six is way too early their hair barely had anytime to grow out and see what their real texture is like. Relaxers contain chemicals and developing scalps and hairlines are especially prone to damage when these chemicals are applied to them. Unfortunately, because home relaxer kits are so easy and inexpensive to use, children as young as six years-old have been subject to them.
Relaxers can sting, burn and cause irreparable damage to a young child’s scalp and hair follicles (Sandeen 2). This leads to sparse (or completely empty) hairlines. How many times have you seen a child with a hairline that begins inches back from where it should be? That’s the aftermath of a relaxer way to early.
I transitioned from relaxed to natural 3.5 yrs, ago. It has been difficult, rewarding, and interesting. I did not do the “big chop” and don’t understand why people are suggesting such a drastic measure to begin the natural hair journey. I used the same shampoo, condition, blow dry, flat iron, and wrap technique during my transition and have used it
ever since. I wash my hair every other day, flat iron it once a week, and wrap it every night. The most difficult thing about transitioning is the amount of time it takes to straighten my hair and the humidity during spring and summer are the killer! honestly, the humidity and effects it has on my natural is what has nearly pushed me towards relaxing my hair again.
If you are willing to take the time to understand your hair, then your hair will have received the time and understanding it needs to be treated in a manner best suited to your tastes! Just trying to encourage you to see the beauty beyond your hair. Relax it if you want or straighten it if you want but trust me leaving it just natural and straightening you’ll see a complete difference in the health in your hair. Just do what you are compelled to do and please yourself.
I believe leaving your hair natural is the best way just like I was once told “If you can’t use it while you’re pregnant then you know it’s not healthy.” So we all know you’re not supposed to relax your hair while pregnant because of the harsh chemicals. Those women who normally run straight to relaxers are the ones who are always complaining that there hair is unmanageable and dry.
With the right natural hair products your hair to make it manageable such as Cantu and Shea Butter products help with most natural hair. And if your hair is dry is because it’s dried out and damaged from the relaxer and not relaxing it will help it regain the moisture. Some natural women feel as if women who choose to relax their hair are betraying their African roots, relaxed ladies feel as though they are constantly under attack by the naturals over their choice to process their hair. The pros of natural hair are it’s not going to be stripped of their natural oils. Natural hair is also the best when you want to dye your hair you have a least amount of breakage.
“Many people have different reasons for getting their hair relaxed.” (Barret 101) Hair damage from years of harsh chemical use. Y’all remember the scene from “Good Hair” when the scientist melts the aluminum can with that active ingredient in relaxers. The Hair Care Suite informs that “relaxers irreversibly alter the natural pH balance and chemical breakdown of your hair, thereby weakening each strand. Hair breakage and scalp irritation are very common side effects from improper application and/or maintenance.” Also the chemicals in your hair don’t mix well with other chemicals (i.e. the chlorine in pools) and can further damage your lovely locks. We lied.
Both natural hair and relaxed hair require beaucoup attention. The difference with relaxed hair is that when it is conditioned/hydrated it needs to be intense. Natural hair needs a little bit of moisture constantly. Dana’s Loft has a great group of products that are loaded with moisture. Damage from chemical process to other parts of the body. Remember when you were younger and momma said, “Keep your eyes closed! You don’t want any of the cream getting in your eyes, making you blind.” Well it’s true; the chemicals do burn and are super toxic to any part of your epidermis, especially the scalp.
Be careful when applying and never let anyone put a relaxer in your hair without greasing your entire head first. When I wore a relaxer straightening my hair took a few hours once a week. But if I didn’t feel like doing that I could just throw it into a ponytail or bun. Now that I don’t have a relaxer I don’t have that luxury anymore. If my hair was straightened it would be long enough to throw into a ponytail by now, but my texture is really thick and kinky so it shrinks up so much that I can’t get it into one large puff yet. If I wanted a quick style I suppose I could just wash my hair then add a little product and allow it to air-dry but I hate wearing my hair that way. I like to wear my hair either in twists, twist-outs, and Bantu knots and styling my hair these ways takes a lot of time.
I love my natural hair, don’t get me wrong…but there are a number of reasons I decided to relax, and none of them have to do with hating my natural hair or not knowing how to take care of it etc. The number 1 reason I did it is because I was bored and wanted a change. I thought about it for months, and I did many different styles in that time trying to find one that I consistently liked. I loved my relaxed hair. It was much easier to deal with and there were more styles that I can do in less time than with my natural hair. I love that you can see the length and how sleek it looks. I may only been relaxed for a short period of time. I may one day miss my natural hair and decide to go back.
But I don’t like all the judgment there is about relaxed vs. natural. Everyone should be able to choose what is best for them without getting flamed for their choice. There are so many reasons to be natural, and just as many to be relaxed. So what’s best is completely dependent on the individual. Now that they make “healthier relaxers” like Organix, Olive Oil, and African Pride brands. As long as you love yourself and your hair and project confidence, it won’t even matter whether people love it or hate it. When I was considering going natural I was afraid of what people would think, but now I really don’t care because I love my hair and I wouldn’t go back to hair relaxers again.
My hair is now healthier, stronger and longer since my switch. The benefits to being natural far outweigh the downsides to it for me. I really love my hair even if it’s a pain to do. The hardest part of the whole process is not caring about what people will think about it. As long as you love yourself and your hair and project confidence, it won’t even matter whether people love it or hate it. When I was considering going natural I was afraid of what people would think, but now I really don’t care because I love my hair and I wouldn’t go back to hair relaxers again.