I don’t have time to be natural

My mother never wanted me to have a relaxer. She always said I didn’t “need” one. For me, however, managing my combination of wavy-straight roots that jetted out to straight/messy curls was irritating. I was the Queen of the Ponytail for a good portion of high school (I also went through a phase where I discovered foam rollers and constantly wore my hair in curls secured by a headband. Anything to maintain the coif). When I did wear it down, it took a lot of effort. So when I started college, I got my first and last relaxer ever. I was home for winter break and after having taken a semester-long required swimming class, I was sick of my hair not being a consistent texture. So I let the black girls at my white institution convince me to get a relaxer when I got home. I guess I should have taken my mom’s disapproval and my hairstylist’s flat-out refusal as indicators that a relaxer was a bad idea, but I didn’t pay them mind. I simply found another hairstylist and let her apply the creamy chemical to my scalp. Somebody should have warned me of the fire that would ignite on my scalp! When it was washed out, I felt my hair sit bone-straight on my head. I got excited. But then a week after leaving the hair shop, I noticed that my hair didn’t have its usual bounce anymore. Sure, it was straight and it fluttered when the wind blew, but it didn’t bounce like it used to. It also wasn’t conducive to my lifestyle. I couldn’t work out for fear of sweating out my bone-straight do and my usual wash and go that I was accustomed to was no longer acceptable. And apparently, I had to stick to a regular trip to the beautician. People that know me know that I like to save my money. I only really go to the hairdresser when I want/need a trim, haircut, good color treatment, or really good blowout. I decided to never do the relaxer thing again. The following break, I returned home to my original hairstylist, who welcomed with open arms with a side of shade, and with a cut and good natural hair treatment, my hair came back to life. Luckily, I had been taking care of my hair while at school so it wasn’t all that damaged.

Now, my hair regiment is super simple. I wash my hair every two weeks. Because I run, I deep condition my hair every time I wash it. Sometimes I blow dry it when I want to wear it straight, other times I just slap some coconut cream in my damp hair and let it air dry. I tend to wear my hair up more often than not; I’ve never liked wearing my hair down. I have since traded in my title of Queen of the Ponytail for Queen of the Bun.

My mother had absolutely no idea how to style African-American hair. She washes her hair everyday, sprays it with some leave in conditioner and is ready. Her mother had the same routine so neither of them even knew how to braid. So I got relaxers for several years. I stopped when I was 13 and she found a stylist who had the patience and knowledge that she did not. The stylist read the both of us for ever giving me one because I never needed it, my hair texture was more than manageable. In addition to me having eczema on my scalp the chemical was horrible for me. I grew out my relaxer and cut it off inch by inch, no big chop for me. I would simply get a wash and blow out and my hair flourished and prospered for years without any chemicals. I will always swear by Nioxin products. The shampoo and conditioner smell amazing and leave your hair easy, breezy, beautiful. The cleansing shampoo is perfect for anyone who puts product in their hair because it strips all of it out without drying your hair. Your scalp is literally squeaky clean. Fast forward to me being 19. I became extremely ill and my hair started falling out as a result of the illness and medication. I was able to hide it by getting my hair foam rodded for maybe two years. As time went on I started having to wear weaves. I have not been without one since. I’m addicted to the ease of it and my real hair is extremely healthy, long, and back to an amazing curl pattern because I leave it the fuck alone. I still get deep conditions and trims, but I don’t have my hands in it everyday. My last trip to the weaveologist, the braider was complaining that my real hair was as long as the weave I was having put in. I don’t have to worry about heat damage, water damage, dryness, oiliness, and can have whatever style I want on a whim. I wear a ponytail at work and throw some curls in it on the weekends. I treat my real hair with things like coconut oil, tea tree oil, and Jamaican black castor oil for my eczema I like natural products, but I don’t have time to seal, cowash, detangle blah blah blah. I know zero about doing hair so I make sure I pick low maintenance styles. Some people think weave is complicated, but its really not. You treat it the same you would any other hair. I go to the salon and get it washed, sit under the dryer and go home. All I need in this life of sin is me and my sew in. There is no right or wrong to it. Your hair is beautiful however you choose to wear it.

First of all, let me say that I am completely new to natural hair compared to my co-parts. I’ve been getting perms since I was about 12 when I begged my mother for one. She wasn’t too keen on the idea since I had always had long beautiful hair and it only needed a Grandma with patience and a hot comb to be pin straight. I was getting ready to go into High School and by that time, the salon I was going to was moving in a new direction, and only took clients with relaxers (crazy I know). After my mom and I tried a couple different places, we agreed I could get a perm so I can do my hair easily for school in the morning. I LOVED my permanent. I always got compliments on my hair, and it always flowed somewhat down my back, so the girls always thought I had a weave. Fast Forward to college, a smooth 5 years after my first perm and close to sophomore year I started noticing my hair was getting dangerously thin and I was losing it very fast. I remember looking at pictures from senior year of HS and then and wondering where I went wrong. It was then I decided to take action. I started getting weaves off and on, and I started going longer without a perm. BAD IDEA. The hair just kept coming out because I was transitioning without properly caring for my hair. I caved and started getting perms again to minimize losing all my hair and to retain my length.

Take a journey with me back to a year ago. One day I was headed to the salon and I decided I wanted color. I remember my stylist and I discussing color and perm was a no-no especially for black women. So I just said “I’m going to go natural”. I didn’t big chop, but I did have short hair from growing out my pixie cut.I remember I was scared because I didn’t know what a co-wash was, nor do I know how to french braid. A friend and I would always talk about how being natural is serious business, but what I found is that it is actually a lot of fun! Honestly it was the best adult decision I have made. I still have an inch of permed ends, but I get regular cuts to my newly natural mane. I also still get highlights so my routine is filled with moisturizing.

On any given day I wash with Organix Moroccan Oil shampoo and conditioner then I do a deep masque of Cantu Shea butter cream. After that I moisturize (again) with Cantu’s Shea Butter coconut curling cream. After I braid my hair up and rap the ends in some rollers. It is probably more complicated than it has to be, but I have been pleased with the results. My hair finally feels lush and full, the effects I was hoping for with my permanent. Sometimes you have to go back to the beginning to find what you had been looking for all along.

I got my first relaxer in 6th grade. It was at the point where my mother got tired of doing my hair and I was going to start. My hair is extremely thick and at that time my hair was down to the middle of my back. It was difficult to style aside from braids and I was at the age where I want to wear my hair down. I loved my relaxer. I only needed to get it twice a year and had no issues with it damaging my hair. The older I got the more I was able to learn about my hair and products that worked for me. When I went off to college I had less time to straighten my hair and care for it like I did when I was in Chicago. I began wearing my hair “naturally” meaning wash and go. I grew an appreciation for my relaxed unstraightened texture and decided to stop getting it relaxed by 2009-10. I knew my hair was naturally curly and the only real “issue” was the thickness. I let the relaxer grow out on its own without cutting off all my hair at one time. I did cut inches at a time off occasionally to achieve specific styles but that was not to get rid of the relaxed hair…I just got tired of having hair down my back, it was boring. Today my hair is completely “creamy crack” free and I treat my hair as I did previous to going natural. I color it, straighten it, and wear it curly. The only thing I do differently is use different products that help to maintain my curls like Mixed Chicks products. I don’t have any ritual or mandatory hair routine before bedtime. I don’t wrap my hair up unless I’ve been to the salon or have to get ready quickly in the AM. I am pretty free to do whatever to my hair without having to worry, which I appreciate. I’m a very laid back person and my hair is also. Don’t ask me about curl patterns, special twists, or mixing up hair concoction because I will look at you like a dear caught in the headlights. All I know is that when I wash my hair it gets curly and a BW pack and creme mixed by my stylist will give me blonde hair. That’s all I need to know to survive in this hair obsessed world. Serious question though, why is natural hair starting to come off as cult-ish?! It scares me so I know guys are like WTF.

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2 responses to “I don’t have time to be natural

  1. Pingback: “I need a perm” | OohMyHair·

  2. Pingback: 2013. | Post Grad Stress Disorder·

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