I did it… Three weeks ago I went to the beauty store, purchased a relaxer, and I straightened 7 years of natural hair growth. I was disappointed at first; it took longer than the directions stated as max time to apply the chemical, and sure enough that tingle I had became a minor chemical burn. After I finished washing with the neutralizer shampoo, my hair felt like straw. I had over processed… great. Still, I applied the leave in conditioner and allowed my hair to dry. Now, I haven’t had a perm in years. My memories consist of freshly washed bone straight hair, sometimes with a slight wave. To my pleasant surprise, my hair still held the curls I had, just a lot looser. *Light bulb moment* That’s why they call it a relaxer, duh! I had just gone from Kinky Curly, to Brazilian Curly in one sitting. Still, I had over processed. You may be wondering why I permed my hair in the first place, being that I was natural for so long… Well, here’s my journey.
I found out I was pregnant with my daughter in September 2007. Believing the old wive’s tale, I chose not to perm while I was pregnant. I had just gotten a perm at the beginning of the month and I was accustomed to going up to 3 months with out a perm and managing just fine. I figured I could make it a few extra months. I flat ironed my hair religiously and it soon became tamed to remain straight at all times. It has also begun to break off. My hair was thinning at the ends, so although I had length, it didn’t look good at all. Towards the end of my pregnancy I decided to get micro braids, a lengthy process in itself. The length of my hair just added to the hours of sitting, so I took the easy way out. I went in the bathroom and chopped off all of my hair saving maybe 2 inches. I was tired of dealing with my hair and I was not about to be stuck in a chair for 10 or more hours. My braids looked lovely and no one knew I had chopped my locks. When I took my braids out, post baby and some 3 months later, I was in love with my short jagged afro puff. I got a trim and a roller set the following day. The curls were absolutely lovely.
For the next 4 years I continued to treat my hair as though it were permed. I still flat ironed on a regular basis, but not nearly as often as before. As my hair grew longer it also got thicker and it seemed to be getting curlier as well. Soon it became too much to manage and it remained in a tight bun most times. I got tired of experimenting with “natural hair care” and decided to take the easy route and use sew in’s as my protective style.
It was great at first, but soon I was heat damaging the leave out I had around edges of my hair line and nape of my neck. It was easy to see the difference in texture when I washed between installs. I would have little patience with my super tight curls and would rake my hair to detangle, comb, or even part it. Mornings were horrible and I knew that I was damaging my hair mostly because of my impatience. I decided to try a closure. I got the right closure, but unfortunately the wrong stylists. My “no glue” closure install for my birthday last November took 3 separate days to install, and was eventually glued to my forehead. The glue caused irritation, and I had to peel the closure off my face. (Unfortunately I wasn’t aware that there was special glue remover for closures.) I wound up ripping out my hair right along with it. thinking I was making a wise choice, I found a different stylist. I loved his work and went back for a second install. The second time around, he was on the phone the entire time, then braided and sewed my hair super tight. When I took that install out, my edges were gone and I was left with a bald spot. My hair had been pulled out at the root because of the tension. My head had developed sore spots from wearing weaves back to back for so long. It was then that I thought about relaxing my hair… and eventually I did. I would apply all the good I had learned about hair to my new and more manageable hair.
Remembering the book I purchased a while back I quickly found and re-read the entire thing in one sitting, this time taking notes. My cousin authored the book “Grow It Girl” about her hair journey. Now my cousin has always had long, beautiful, relaxed hair, and she even stated that “If you want to be good at something, find someone who has already done it and learn their habits.” I began reading it a few months ago, but put it down because at the time I was natural and her book tells of a relaxed journey. Now that I’m relaxed, and over processed, I am following her advise to the T. Its only been 3 weeks since my perm and I’ve washed my hair twice. I plan on washing again today. I have found a regimen that keeps my hair moisturized and I’ve taken a number of different tips from this book. I can already see the difference. Already, my hair no longer feels like straw. It’s soft and shiny. I can run my fingers through my curls with ease. I have still been using weave as my crutch though. This time around I’m going with wigs, that way I don’t have to manipulate my hair as often and I can moisturize before I put my wigs on and after I take them off. I’ve paid special attention to my edges, and I’m pleased to say that I no longer have a bald spot; its just a thin spot now.
I’ll be posting more videos soon, so make sure to check out my YouTube page if you’re interested.