My Hair Story! Part I: The Relaxer Days
This is long overdue! I am just realizing I've never talked about my "hair story" on my blog! What the eff right? So here goes nothing.
I first got a relaxer when I was very young; I'm not sure how old but definitely younger than 10. I actually asked for a relaxer. My big sis had one and of course I wanted whatever she had. My hair was always plaited so looking back, the relaxer was quite pointless.
In middle school my hair was over-processed. The barber-yes, a barber- that did my hair would put a relaxer in at any sign of new growth. Then later on, I stopped getting relaxers in the seventh or eighth grade and got box braids for the first time. I loved them, but even then I couldn't commit to a style and would take them out within 6 weeks tops! My mother or sister would straighten my hair with the hot comb heated on the stove (Whoa! I feel old.) and use good old-fashioned grease. We eventually got flat irons when those became popular. I remember one time when the comb was so hot, it literally burned off a patch in the back...and no one told me! I didn't find out until days later. It wasn't burned off from the root or anything, but a patch of hair significantly shorter than the rest. (Years later, and I am actually feeling my hair right now to check if it's all even.) I do not miss the days when straightening tools were heated on the stove!
After graduating and matriculating to high school, I would wash my hair once a week. While wet, I would brush the front back and pull it into a ponytail leaving the back loose. Then put a roller in the ponytail and loose ends in back. That was pretty much my signature style. I knew nothing then of being "natural" or "transitioning". I just thought of it as "Oh I haven't had a perm in a while. I need one before all my hair breaks off". I think I started getting relaxers again later on in my freshman year, and I always wore my hair in a low bun.
End of junior year came, and I had to go to senior class graduation because I was a nerd and in the top of my class. I wanted my hair DID y'all! (Lol) Another first, I got a curly doobie. There were two events so I had my done twice within 2 days. Umm now, as we all may know by now, you cannot shampoo your hair prior to applying a relaxer because if you do, the burn will be that of 10 fiery suns! When I tell you this woman jacked up my scalp! Oh my goodness! I was in the chair in tears. My nails were digging into the cushion of the arm rests! Then she tried to put neutralizer on to help with the burning. That ish made it worse! I have never been burned so badly by a relaxer in life as I was that day. There were sores all over my scalp. I mean bloody sores too! I could not touch parts of my head because it was so sensitive. When the sores healed, the scabs matted my hair down to the root. This should have been the time when I decided that a relaxer and I did not belong to together. It was an abusive relationship. He got my money, and I got left with the bruises and damaged hair. Shame on me.
I went back to relaxers, like an addict, fearing severe breakage if I didn't. I thought I was being smart by relaxing less frequently, but on the other hand I was flat ironing every day with no heat protectants. My hair never passed shoulder length and breakage was always a constant.
It wasn't until my sophomore year in college that I got completely frustrated with my hair and decided to do something about it. I searched for a good stylist in the area, read tons of reviews, and finally picked someone. I had read in reviews that she was a stylist focused on healthy hair, and that's what I wanted-well, that and for it to look good. I was in her chair regularly every other week. Doing my hair every other week, was a bit too costly on my college student budget so I eventually went less frequently and she recommended which Aveda products I could use for upkeep. My relaxed hair had never looked better. It was the longest it had ever been. It was shiny, it had body, it had movement. Ohhh how I was whipping my hair back and forth! I eventually decided to try some color. When I had to do the upkeep on my own, I'll admit I slacked off, and my hair was not looking as fierce as she had it before. It was then that she gave me the ultimatum, relaxer or color. I couldn't have both. I chose color thinking, "That's why there are flat irons!" I first got a semi-permanent color with blond-ish highlights followed by a permanent color months later. Actually, I don't even remember how many color jobs I had.
While I was transitioning, I didn't really know that I was "transitioning". To me, I was just growing my hair out. My intent was to still wear my hair straight once the relaxed ends were gone. I either flat ironed everyday or pulled it into a bun and used Elasta QP Glaze to smooth my edges. That product worked well, but in combination with a bristle brush, I was just damaging my edges.
I use my hair as a way to express myself and a bit of a stress reliever so whenever I'm going through something there's sure to be a change in my color and/or cut. August 29, 2010, I did just that.
Up next Part II: A Damaged Natural
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PS: I'm searching for pics, and will update post when/if they're found.