I think most of us naturals have gone through our ‘straight hair’ phase. I remember that I wanted to relax my hair so bad when I was in junior high school, even though I was warned about the dangers of the practice.
While I thought I was following the norm, I was actually setting myself up for 7 years of inconvenience and dependence on a hair stylist. Here were the four things I hated most about relaxers.
The burning sensation on my scalp
If you’ve ever gotten a relaxer (or if you’ve ever seen that scene in The Temptations where they get their first perms), it is not a fun experience.
If you scratch or irritate your scalp before you get a relaxer, it will literally burn you. I hated having to leave it in ‘just 5 more minutes’ while I waited for my time to be up. Then, because of the chemicals in it, you can’t even touch it without gloves. Not a very fun experience.
The amount of touch ups / the cost
So not only did I have to go through this painful experience (whoever said pain is beauty needs to have a seat), but I had to go through it every few weeks! Now, many ladies opt to stretch their relaxers for months, but back then your hair had to be as bone straight as possible.
My hair stylist had me on a regimen of a touch up every 6 weeks, so my curls were literally always in submission. And at almost $80 a visit, touch ups were not the cheapest thing in the world!
Lack of versatility
Now while there are other styles you can do with your hair if it’s relaxed, it’s a different process than styling on natural hair. The first time I tried to do a twist out on my newly transitioning hair, it was a mess. There was almost no curl definition, and my hair reverted in a matter of minutes.
The truth is when you chemically alter your hair, it can’t go back to its original state unless you cut it and start from the beginning. With curly hair, you can straighten, curl, twist, braid, etc – there are almost infinite possibilities.
Strict maintenance regimen
Every successful hair journey requires a maintenance regimen, but if you have no idea what you’re doing with your hair then relaxers are not for you.
I couldn’t go to sleep without wrapping my hair for the night, I had to go to a professional every week or other week for a wash and set, and I had no control over my hair.
It wasn’t until I returned to natural hair that I took responsibility over my tresses and learned what worked for me. Now, I can just fall asleep on a satin pillowcase*, and I don’t have to run inside every time it starts raining.
We all make our own choices with what we do to our hair. I relaxed mine to fit in, but after truly learning to care for my curls I wouldn’t look back. What about you? What was or is your experience with relaxers?