So I relaxed my hair on Saturday. Well I guess I have stuck to my resolution, that 2013 would be the year of wearing my own hair. I think braids are great – but as the hair gets longer the process gets longer and after 2 years I got sick of sitting for 8 hours to get my hair done and paying £60 for the long tortuous session. As for wearing my hair natural – that was actually not that bad as far as hairstyles were concerned, I found a couple that I considered my ‘go to’ styles. But for me, the real problem was the ssk’s – the balls of hair that would come off the end of my hair and drag the rest of the hair out with it. I actually felt like I was constantly losing hair because of these balls – and regardless of moisture – these balls would appear when my hair was wet or dry. It felt like they were almost incurable and it made me not want to do my hair. But the annoying thing is the hair needed constant doing. In the morning it had to be done because I couldn’t sleep in my pinned do’s because the hair would shrink overnight and so the style would not keep. Also the 10,000 hair pins that were required to do the style would make my head hurt. Then after the gym it would need doing because the shrinkage and sweat and steam would mean the hair needed to be restyled. And if I washed it in the gym – wow! Instant shrinkage and lots of those little balls, which meant that in the morning if I air dried in plaits I’d have my work cut out.
The nice thing about my natural hair was that when in it was fully stretched state over the course of the week due to prolonged plaiting, it would allow for nice volumised looking buns – I love how big the hair could look because of the thickness and just knowing that I was free of any extensions or chemicals, it was a nice feeling – being free of anything artificial.
But in reality – I have a job– one that means that I have to get there on time every day– I found that even with my ‘go-to’ hair styles I was constantly late to work because I was trying to be delicate with those balls of hair at the ends of my plaits and my hair would always be at a different state since the last time I done it due to shrinkage, so I was trying to manage the shrunken hair if it wasn’t stretched to its fullest – I was also trying to look decent in as short a time as possible.
Bottom line? The hairstyles that prompted me to go natural are not the hairstyles that my hair likes. Ie. The twist and tuck up do’s all those that basically don’t involve plaiting or twisting the hair and leaving it in said state for a few weeks/months at a time. When I think about it, it really was just too much manipulation for me to be doing the hair everyday – unbraiding what I had braided the night before and then styling etc…
So what now?
Well now I have the challenge of maintaining healthy relaxed hair – so as expected I have a few scabs/scalp burns from the relaxer application – and I have lost the fullness I had with my natural hair. But if I can avoid getting broken sections of hair and avoid it getting to the stage where it looks overly thin – then I’m happy. My plan for doing this is to relax every 3-4 months instead of 6-8weeks. This will mean that the relaxer scalp burn will not be something that I have to endure very often – given that it takes about a week and a half to be completely rid of the scabs.
But also it means that the hair can gain some thickness from the new growth and also that there will be enough new growth to relax on my relaxer due dates – which means a) limited overlap i.e. healthier hair and b) a potential 1-1.5 inch growth spurt every time I relax. That’s one thing I do really like about my relaxed hair – the extra length I gain each time I get a relaxer. The hair that grows through is protected from breakage by the relaxed hair and so if the relaxed ends are protected by regular moisturising, conditioning and protective styling – then all should be well.
The only monster missing from the picture which I am yet to be reminded of is the random relaxer breakage. Now unlike my natural hair which breaks because it is perpetually tangled and thirsty, my relaxed hair breaks because it has been permanently broken down by a chemical application which means it lacks protein, the ph balance may be off, it may be coated with the metals from the relaxer, and its generally weakened. So basically breakage from my relaxed hair can be just as hard to cure mainly because it occurs just because the hair relaxed. Then on top of that I will need to manage the demarcation breakage – which happens because there are two textures to manage on the same head – it’s where the relaxed hair meets the natural hair and if my plan is to stretch for 3 months at a time – this will be my number one challenge. One of the things I am planning on not doing is daily flat ironing to iron out the odd wave you get from wrapping or to give the hair a bevelled under look.
I’m interested in testing the impact this has on the health of my hair – because I remember my relaxed hair breaking when roller setting – and when flat ironing occasionally and I wonder if I could have avoided this with by not using heat. Given the utter state of my hair on some of my natural hair wearing days – not flat ironing minor kinks here and there should not really be a problem.