I will always remember the day of my first relaxer. I was in the seventh grade and one of the last girls in my grade who was still natural.
I had begged my mom to give me one for months and she wasn’t too thrilled about the idea. Each time I was turned down I grew a little bit sadder, but instead of giving up I just kept on pushing.
One Saturday before she went out to run errands she told me to make sure my hair was detangled because she needed “to figure out what she was going to do with it”. She then mumbled something about a relaxer and was out of the door.
My heart soared. It was finally my day! Sure enough, mom came home with a white “Just For Me” box in tow and that was the last I saw of my natural 4b hair.
I remember thinking that my hair would look so much longer because a flat iron* couldn’t straighten hair the way a relaxer could; I was wrong, but not too disappointed in the end. Nothing could really kill my buzz that day.
Right after it was done my whole family wanted to go swimming in our backyard pool. I looked at my mother silently waiting to see what she’d say. “Go ahead; it’ll be fine” she said.
I thought nothing of the chlorine interacting with my newly relaxed hair. I just wanted to have fun. Symbolically enough, that was the start of a slew of hair ups and downs.
Your relaxed hair is no different from your natural in terms of caring for it is the first hair myth I really remember. Of course I’ve come across plenty more and each time I find out the truth I am shocked that I even believed the myth in the first place. Here are some of my favorites:
Water is your enemy.
Feeling the first droplets of rain or forgetting to tuck a couple of strands underneath my showercap used to be sure ways to send me into a blind panic. I didn’t ever go swimming and if I did I always made sure to keep dry from the waist up as an extra precaution.
Part of this was to preserve my hairstyle. The other part was because I truly believed water and relaxed hair didn’t go well together. Relaxers were not created to be wet too frequently and wash days were already pushing it. Surely extra water would cause my hair to fall out?
Whatever stayed on my head would probably revert back to natural because relaxers could be washed out if your hair if exposed to too much water. I don’t know where I got my logic from, but obviously I now know that moisture is one of the healthiest things for your hair.
A good relaxer comes with a little burn.
Touch up day used to be a treat for the adrenaline junkie in me because it was on those days that the balance between just enough burn and too much was tested.
At some point I had decided that if you couldn’t feel the relaxer, it wasn’t working. And so I sat at my kitchen counter month after month trying to prove that I had a high pain tolerance all in the name of beauty.
Sometimes I got lucky and escaped scab free. On those other, unlucky, days I would just shrug it off as a casualty of war.