It comes as no surprise that the most common question I get asked is ‘How can I grow my hair long?’. What is relatively surprising though is that of every 10 times I get asked that question, 9 of the ladies have relaxed hair. Is there a theme here or is it just me?
Ok, I’m not into relaxer bashing. I think relaxing your hair is personal choice or preference and some ladies just prefer straight hair. However, growing black hair long is trickier with relaxed hair because relaxing is in essence ‘ controlled damage’ and in many ladies cases completely uncontrolled damage!
Many relaxers and texturizers give a 20 minute window in which to apply it to the whole head of hair and work it through. And what do most women do? Just that. I’ve even seen a stylist who was very good at her job apply the relaxer at lightning pace and combed it through. She was done in 10 minutes after which she made the client wait another 10 only begining to rinse the relaxer out when the timer went off. You may be wondering what is wrong with the 20 minute scenario, after all it is what the manufacturers suggest. I venture to suggest that it is as ludicrous as saying that all pieces of meat should be cooked for 10 minutes on each side without accounting for they type of meat ( beef, chicken, ham) or the thickness. The lovely topside joint of beef would be quite raw on the inside while the thin fillet steaks would be overdone and ruined!
Manufacturers should make it clearer that the timeline that they give for the application of a relaxer is just a maximum time and that actual processing times will vary widely. I was a stylist in a previous life well before I discovered ‘real’ black hair care. I remember being annoyed with a woman who demanded that her hair be relaxed in sections as she only wanted the relaxer in her hair for 5 minutes at most. I thought that her hair would look like no relaxer had touched it after all 5 minutes is only a fraction of the standard 20 minutes right? It took a while to complete and her hair was left with a bit of a curl while wet but lo and behold, roller setting was as easy and straightforward as any other head of hair. In the completed look I had managed to achieve superior results than I had with any other client’s hair that I had relaxed bone straight. Her hair was silky smooth and straight but with gorgeous volume. Not the flat thin relaxed hair that I was used to seeing.
Many women don’t know that they are guilty of over processing their hair and they will adamantly insist that their hair is resistant or it was relaxed for the perfect amount of time etc.
Goals will dictate your results. If all you want is to have sleek straight locks every morning without having to do much and don’t mind keeping your hair short, then more than likely, relaxing bone straight or leaving texture in your hair will not affect you much either way. But if your number one goal is length then make use of strand testing and always leave a little bit of texture in your hair when using a relaxer.
If you are doing everything else right:
- You are having protein treatments regularly
- You are using alternating between moisture and protein conditioners
- Moisturizing your hair daily
- Washing your hair often at least weekly
- Have your combing technique down to an art form
If you are doing all these things but still not seeing any results, it might be time to hang up the relaxer brush and consider going natural. It is a painful truth that many would rather not hear but some of us will never be able to grow our hair long while using chemicals. Whether it is disposition (forgets to protect hair at night often or other indiscretion) or simply having fine hair strands that melt at the mildest of relaxers, it is a truth that you will have to figure out for the sake of your own hair.
You will be happy to hear that being natural does not mean that you will have to get dread locs, wear your hair in braids or an afro. You can continue to wear your hair straight and with the proper care and attention regularly heat straightened natural hair has the potential to grow even longer than its relaxed counterpart because you are starting with hair at full strength and elasticity.
Is it time you bit the bullet and went natural?
Shante Willnevasettle says
I disagree being natural is also about controlling damage. Smh. I was natural before and had my share of issues so from first hand experience going natural doesnt free u from damage. Natural doesnt mean healthy…natural means natural. It can be severally damaged if u dnt treat it with care which takes more care/matainence than relaxed haircare imo…i cant stand agenda pushers! Lol
Kelly Hall says
If all else fails??? This article makes going natural sound like falling on a sword!
Oh come on now, for some ladies it probably would be! lol I suppose the article is really for those with superfine super soft hair that when relaxed keeps on breaking regardless what they do. In their case giving up relaxers may be their only option.
Ebony Shelby says
I think that “going natural” is a preference by the person some people have found that relaxers are not for them and that’s fine and some relaxers are for them and that’s fine to. I think that you have to do what’s right with your hair type and style. I found myself that relaxers really didn’t do much for me but make my hair straight with no body but again a personal preference.
Loving the Fro That I Gro says
If all else fails, DO YOU ♡ Keeping your hair and scalp healthy is first and foremost. All hair types have good days and bad days ♥
Vivian Gray says
Linda Aunt Faye Pettis says
I’m natural now for 5 yrs and no growth…any suggestions??? Help!!
If you are seeing no growth then there must be somewhere you are going wrong in your regimen. More often that not, it’s a lack of protective styling. What’s your reggie?
Taryn Stewart says
Ditto to Black Hair’s thoughts; I have been technically natural for a year now. This time, I actually went natural by accident. Prior to, I was tex-laxed (I think that is the new phrase for it) using a texturizing system from a lady out of South Atlanta for 2 years. Since moving back to my hometown this Spring, I haven’t been able to get back to be “retouched”, hence its been a year sans chemical. However, I’ve still maintained my curly fro and have just learned to do twist outs. And I continue to experience great hair growth.
Finding products that work for you and establishing some kind of daily, weekly, monthly hair care routine is key. Maintaining moisture is also key, regular cuts/trims, tying hair up in silk scarves at night, as well as regularly combing out or detangling your hair. But moisture, moisture is a must! Experiment with products you see touted online or that others suggest and observe how your hair reacts. I have a friend who found some products at Dollar General that she likes. Once you find a product line you like, find a routine, and stick with it! You’ll see results in no time!
Lisita StayFabulous Huntley says
True that….I’m natural and love it….
Totally disagree. I am bone straight relaxed..not a kink left when I get my touch ups and I am beyond BSL. I started at neck length 2 years ago and followed a really well-researched regimen to make my hair healthier and grow. Voila. It’s not rocket science, but you need to be educated and do the right things for your hair. Most of my friends who went natural to have longer hair still have shorter hair than my 4b/c hair. Go figure!
Alma Ruddock says
I suppose in your case it hasn’t failed Tiffany! I can assure you, there are those with baby fine natural hair which if relaxed will just break regardless how fabulous their regimen. If your quest is for long hair then you should be willing to try something different until that one thing that works.
Jerae Farries says
I’m just hoping after all the time, effort and money I’ve put into going Natural that I don’t revert back to relaxers. The kinky look is beautiful on some just not sure if it’s for me. Thankful for protective styles.
Raven Williams says
Everyone is not going to have long hair. Being relaxed or natural doesn’t matter.
Lu Salmon says
Linda Aunt Faye Pettis says
BlackHairInformation.com…keeping moisture…oliveoil on scalp..twist sometimes…
Nicole Cato says
I went natural bc all other styles I tried I couldnt manage. Any relaxer was horrible for my sensitive scalp.
Barbara Naylor says
I think healthy hair must be the first priority, not everyone will have long hair or a lot of growth. People say things like,”I have no growth” but really what most mean is, “it’s not as long as I want or feel like it should be”. Hair is no different than fingernails or skin, it’s just different from everybody…..
Barbara Naylor says
La Monica Adams says
Beautiful young lady!
Florence Anderson says
That’ Right, nice.
Linda Aunt Faye Pettis says
Thank you Taryn Stewart!
Tsebo Kobbina says
I am still waiting for my hair to grow it a afro does not seem to grow is it the weather in Africa? Only relaxed hair grows natural hair doesn’t grow in Africa it’s horrific horrible I hate it I would trade anything to be another race with silky smooth straight gorgeous long hair
Stephanie Frances Kosanovich says
You’re made the way you are. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. There is beauty in every race/culture.