I don’t have natural hair and I don’t feel guilty
I can proudly say, I generally no longer follow fashion trends. My style in the last 20 years or so has always been more about what I could afford and what I felt looked good on me, not other people’s opinions.
I have, however, been watching the natural hair craze with interest as I have friends who are into following whatever latest trend comes up. Many of my friends who have joined the natural hair band wagon never actually show their hair. They always have a wig or braids or a weave because its too short, too long, too hard to comb, too time consuming or they don’t know how to style it. Some angrily go on about being natural as God created them while plastering on the foundation, make-up, nail polish and fake eye lashes. Confusing right?
Personally, when I was a child my mom permed my hair with Easy Waves to make it softer and more manageable and I wore it either as a bun or two or plaited with wool. The 80s during high school was the curly perm trend. I was a teenager at the time, so I followed. Remember Michael Jackson’s curly permed oily hair famously catching fire? We would put up with the ugly smell during processing but my grew long only the oil was annoying! Then came the advent of the no-lye relaxers. I relaxed my hair….. Eish but every visit to the salon was a mission, I knew my scalp was going to be burnt and since 90% of the hair dressers don’t read the instructions on the pack, my growth and already relaxed hair would be plastered with the relaxer then further aggravated by combing with a fine tooth tail comb.
I tried everything from plastering my scalp with Vaseline first, to adding baby powder, to taking pain killers before going after carefully making sure that I didn’t scratch my scalp for days before going. My gosh it was a mission but I had nice-ish hair.
One day in 2000 I decided it was enough torture!!! I shaved it off and kept my hair shaved and short for a year. It wasn’t cheap, every two weeks I had to go to the barber and being ‘a lady’, I couldn’t go to any old barber so I had to pay a premium price.
After the year I decided to experiment with dreadlocks. Now that was a look I loved! I had thin ones that I could curl and I kept the look for 12 years. So yeah, the same look for 12 years can get old right?!!
Then 2013, I went through a period where a lot of changes were happening in my life that I had no control over with work and personal life. The idea of embracing change and doing something I had control over came to me – like a new hairstyle… I started going online, reading articles about undoing dreadlocks. I also started seeing bloggers on hair journeys with long relaxed hair. I wanted it!!! I wanted relaxed hair as long as my dreadlocks.
I was shocked when I read about how dirt and dust hold the dreadlocked hair together. I washed my hair with shampoo, thoroughly rinsed it, then put apple cider vinegar and bicarbonate soda and rinsed again. What a shock, the water was dark brown from all the dust I had been carrying. I couldn’t believe that I had been carrying all that dirt over the years.
Anyway so it was off with the dreadlocks and in with the relaxer. I asked people what was popular these days and was told of a well known brand everyone was using, and I went and bought myself a box and off to the salon. I GOT BURNT!! We had to wash off the relaxer before my hair was processed. Have you had that feeing when you sit in the salon and try to look ok but you are in so much pain you just want to cry??!
I was told to try again after 2 weeks with another famous brand which was more expensive. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I had the same result!! My hair was slightly more relaxed but my scalp felt raw! I didn’t want to comb my hair or touch my scalp for a few days.
Back to the internet! This was not working!! Then I came across an article that spoke about the pros and cons of no-lye relaxers and lye relaxers. There was also a hint that some people may be allergic to no-lye relaxers. The lye relaxers contain Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) as the main ingredient. That for me was a huge revelation!! Unfortunately for me everywhere you turn, there are no-lye relaxers then I discovered a couple of brands that could only be administered in a salon but at a premium price. I’ve tried Mizani and Affirm by Avlon and both have been perfect! I didn’t burn and my hair is perfectly relaxed. My hair journey began… I am loving experimenting with conditioners, oils, hair regimens, measuring the length, hair styles etc, its trial and error and fun.
BUT guess what?? A lot of those healthy relaxed hair bloggers I have followed, started going natural along with every other woman I was looking at! Where were they during my natural days? I am well on my journey to healthy relaxed hair and enjoying experimenting with styles. Maybe one day those ladies will catch up…