Have You Traded One Form of Hair Slavery For Another?

Have you traded one form of hair slavery for another

Slavery is probably a very strong word, but I must admit it gets people’s attention, so why not. Despite the negative connotations of the word slavery, in this case, it just means work.

I read a very interesting article the other day from Natural Hair Mag asking the question: Are you truly independent and free with your natural hair in comparison to when hair was relaxed. After I read the article and I thought about my own hair regimen. Am I more independent? Yes because I do my own hair. Is it less work? Hec no!

Its clear that relaxed hair requires work and dedication for it to be healthy, but there is nobody going natural either who can safely say it is a bed of roses, or much easier unless you are rocking a super short TWA. So what if we compared “the work” between the two?

Washing routine

With relaxed hair, without fail, you would probably shampoo your hair weekly bi – weekly the most. Your natural hair is not much different, we might even cowash once during the week in both cases to ensure that our hair is properly moisturized throughout the week.

In both cases, we do things to keep our hair healthy for instance we deep condition and hydrate the hair with products specifically designed or created for that purpose. We use protein to strengthen the strands, but if your hair is relaxed or super fine, you might tend to use protein rich products a bit more. Is this work? Maybe, but its good work because it is a part of caring for your hair.


Let’s take a look at styling, this is where things get a bit hairy, no pun intended. Natural hair twist outs, braid outs, Bantu knots, roller sets, twist, and curls, you name it we do it. On the other hand, we style relaxed hair as well, but it doesn’t appear to be as much or as often as natural hair, at least it wasn’t for me.

I never owned a jar of gel when I was relaxed, these days stylers are a huge part of my product collection because getting the curls just right and holding them in place has become a daily ritual.

Having natural hair has forced us to really explore hairstyles and styling requires creativity, tools, and products. Does this mean that there are less styling options with relaxed hair? Not at all but there is just no fair way to compare them.

Originally posted 2014-07-30 15:00:28.

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About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.


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  1. Jenny JackJack
    Jenny JackJack

    I’m sorry , but a person’s hair style is not any form of slavery. There are more important topics to discuss other than slavery of hair smh… White people don’t have dumb conversations like this ….. They wear any style with no questions asked.

    1. Jenny JackJack
      Jenny JackJack

      Oh I totally read the article like a educated person would do before responding …. The author should use better terminology instead of trying to be controversial. Why would the word slavery correlate with a hair regime or taking care of hair ??? That’s just silly. It’s simply a way to start a relaxed versus natural debate. Everybody of all races has to take care if their hair to keep it healthy no matter how it’s worn….. Drop that word slavery.

    2. BlackHairInformation.com

      maybe you missed this paragraph – As we said before slavery is a strong word so lets get rid of it! The truth is in either case your approach should be efficient and fun. They always say, it is never work when you are having a great time so if you are natural and a great twist out gets you going, while another person might look at you with a side eye saying “I’m not doin all a dat” . You can look at them and smile because you enjoy doing your twist out.

    3. BlackHairInformation.com

      And as you can see nobody is debating, the author can use whatever words she wants to, in order to convey the message, it is what makes the delivery of information interesting, you can ofcourse choose to not like the choice of words, but the great thing is you cant censor it 🙂

    1. BlackHairInformation.com

      Maybell Lena Killion – please read the entire article before making a negative comment, it helps to keep the comment thread as positive as possible…

  2. Clarissa Charlene
    Clarissa Charlene

    In my experience relaxed hair is less time consuming, easier to manage, CHEAPER, easier for the hair to look decent.

    1. Dee

      I wear my hair relaxed because it is very thick and coarse and I do not like fake hair or braids or other similar styles, not even pony tails. I prefer my hair loose and free and so does my hairline. There is this myth out there that AA should only wash once or twice a week. I wash mine every day and also use some type of conditioner ever day, whether it’s in the shower or a leave in. My hair is past shoulder length hand healthy. Don’t believe everything you hear.

      1. tmw

        I read your post and smiled because i feel the exact same way about my long, thick, coarse 4c hair…. except I’m 100% natural. I don’t do gels and twist outs and such because i want my hair to be free. I ride in a convertible and walk in the rain without hesitation or fear… in fact I now love rainy days because the humidity makes my fro extra soft. No long drawn out nightly routines for me because I have embraced my hair as it is…. pure African bush baby type hair in an extra long and wide format. Blow dried my hair is mid back length (before I went natural it was chin length) Thus my fro is super big so it put it in 8 plaits at night, mist it with water and seal with oil or cream… that is it. In the morning I pick it out, spray with water, pat with a silk scarf to make it nice and round and I’m gone. This just goes to show that two women with similar hair type and goals can be just as happy with their hair whether they are relaxed or natural.

  3. Mary Howard

    I don’t see my hair as being a form of slavery. We as African Americans have been conditioned to having straight hair. And if your skin is lighter you get further in life. I love my natural hair and skin color-in other words I love me. Yes, when you initially start out it is quite difficult to know what to do with your hair, but as you read all the different suggestions as to the available products out their for your hair, then you work with what’s best for your hair. I looked at a video yesterday, and this persons suggestions was so out there, it seems she was intentionally making it difficult to manage all of our hair types. It was really funny, because it was crazy and unnecessary. For the real newbies, it can scare them back to perms.

  4. Tina Waters
    Tina Waters

    When I was relaxed I had a huge box of products. Now that I’m natural I have a huge box of products.
    I washed then. I wash now.
    I styled then. I style now.
    It’s hair regardless and it has to be maintained.
    Are you a slave to your body? You spend all day feeding it, exercising it, cleaning it, moisturizing it, resting it.
    Dumb article.

  5. nubiennze

    This article isn’t what I anticipated…at all. :/ Somewhat of a letdown.

  6. Diane C. Dejean
    Diane C. Dejean

    yes, its all in the labeling…natural v relaxed. i responded to a hair post yesterday and later told my view wasnt valid. im relaxed, i attempted transitioning, i would like to see my hair chemical free. but because i wasnt “natural” i was “shut out”. my spirit isnt broken lol but of you have an anatomy and physiology book you can know and understand what hair is composed of and why human have hair…but i didnt get that deep yesterday lol. the common denomimator is hair and hair care and having the freedom to do as you please as long as you take care of yourself. We need to take these labels off

    1. tmw

      I transitioned. For 2 and 1/2 years, contact me if you have questions or just want to chat about your journey…. some folks take this natual stuff too seriously, gosh its just hair

      1. Coililana

        People take natural stuff too seriously, because quite honestly, they take relaxers too seriously. What some naturals are trying to do is create a paradigm shift within the African American community around natural hair texture. We can downplay how reliant AA women are on relaxers all we want, but it is sad when people brag about getting frequent chemical treatments to cover up their roots so nobody sees their “naps”, or when the damage stunts your growth to the point you think black women’s hair can’t grow past their shoulders. And how about the millions of black women who really don’t earn a decent income relative to their expenses, yet their locked in like slaves to that touch up every 6-8 weeks that cost roughly $100 + tips.

        In regards to the article, natural hair is more work when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. 🙂 If you are still facing the learning curve, then it will be a lot of trial and error in the beginning, especially since many naturals started out in the process without the assistance of their black hair dressers. Considering most black women I know stay up in the salon every week and don’t even own a shampoo, their learning curve is very steep. If you educate yourself on the science behind hair, do some research on people’s regimens that have a similar texture to you, then you should be able to at least get a starting point.

        Not bragging but I have hair in the 4 range and I can style my wash n go in less than 25 minutes. I add a cheapie conditioner with extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil (the quality is important) BEFORE I enter the shower so my detangling sessions are next to nil. It took some experimentation, but I finally got there. At best I could style my hair in two hours when I was relaxed. That includes blow frying, flat ironing, and curling. Not to mention the damaging effects of all that heat styling on top of chemicals that destroy the hair’s fiber. This whole natural movement has been a god-sent to me. If other women prefer relaxers than I have no problems with that. Why would I? It’s not my hair. But other black people no when they approach me that I have no hang ups about my hair texture because I rock it with pride. Therefore I get a pass from all these dumb “good hair” conversations and other BS that black people feed into. That’s priceless!

  7. Stacey

    Funny, I was just thinking about this very thing and ran into this article. I was on the couch scared to put my head on the pillow because it had a cotton pillowcase and I didn’t have my silk wrap on. It reminded me of how I used to avoid the rain with relaxed hair like the Wicked Witch of the West. It is possible to get so wrapped up in your hair care that it feels like you are a slave to it. I am new to natural hair, so it has been quite the struggle; I have spent a whole day just doing my hair already. On the plus, my ability to style my hair has gone from near non-existent to decent. It’s called a journey for a reason. Take as much from it as you want and enjoy the process.

    1. Coililana

      Please! I never put my RELAXED head on a cotton pillowcase. You wear a satin scarf. That was ingrained in me from childhood. And all the black women I was surrounded by did the same. That’s the one part of “going natural” that I thought was the standard norm already.

  8. Carmen

    Interesting article. Readers should be able to comment negatively or positively to something that is read, as long as there is no disrespect. Not everyone will agree with the use of the word “slavery” to describe a choice in hairstyle. Some people with think its creative. Some people with think its over board.

  9. Kianda Skater Hagley
    Kianda Skater Hagley

    Slavery and natural hair should not be in the same sentence! This article is silly and I am so sick of hearing natural hair is too much work! Its as difficult as you make it. Why are we the only race who have such negative views about the hair which grows from our scalp???!!! There are some silly comments on here that relaxed hair is cheaper to maintain lmaooo I have been natural from the day I was born and being natural is not expensive…lack of education in regards to your natural hair is what that stems from *sigh*

    1. Tk Tatum Richey
      Tk Tatum Richey

      No sweetheart natural hair is harder and more expensive to take care of the products down to the styling time thats coming from a cosmetologist

      1. Coililana

        Some of you “cosmetologists” aren’t that much better in your thinking and all about making a profit, hence why ya’ll are quick to slap a chemical in someone’s head rather than teach them how to take care of what God gave them. The primary reason I went natural is because I got tired of cosmetologists f’en my hair up.

        Routine from top to bottom RELAXED vs. NATURAL
        -Relaxer: Keracare for sensitive scalp or Phytospecific (spent approx. $100 every 8 weeks, not including tips and treatments to repair damage caused by a cosmetologists that messed up my hair)
        -Scalp treatment: Phytopolleine $40
        -Pre-poo treatment: Phyto hair oil $40
        – Shampoo: Keracare 1st lather shampoo $8
        -Shampoo: Keracare Hydrating Detangler $8
        -DC + reconstrutor: Keracare, Joico (every month) $11/$20
        -Conditioner: Keracare humecto $9
        -Leave in: Keracare $9
        -Heat protectant and styler: Silk Elements $11
        -Moisturizing cream: Keracare $7
        -Finishing spray: Nexxus $12

        Note: Styling took two hours to blowdry each section and then flat iron and curl it. I needed frequent reconstructor (protein) treatments to maintain processed hair.

        Pre-poo: Tresemme Naturals nourishing conditioner and Nutiva coconut oil $4; $11
        Shampoo: Diluted mix of Giovanni Smooth as Silk and water (shampoo lasts for months and hair is healthier) $7
        Conditioner: Giovanni Smooth as Silk $7; still looking for one without all the protein because I don’t need it. Hair is healthy
        DC: Eco-lesterol $4;
        L.O.C.: Shea Moisture detangler $12, Cocoacare Sweet Almond oil $ 5, As I Am doublebutter cream $25
        Styler: Eco styler argan oil gel $4

        +I barely need protein in my regimen because I don’t have mechanical, chemical, or thermal damage courtesy of the finger detangling, and Seek and Destroy methods that I’ve learned from the natural community. Ecostyler gel has UV protection so I’m good to go.
        +I can style my hair in less than 25 minutes as opposed to two hours when I was relaxed. Even if I wrapped it, my shoulder length hair took an hour under a hooded dryer and then another hour to curl.
        +I had no choice but to spend half of my Saturday sitting in the hair salon to get a touch up. Now going to a hairdresser is optional.

        If you know what you are doing, you’re natural hair routine should be no longer than it would have been if you were relaxed. Twist-outs, curl sets, etc.. will take more time. But again, that’s minimal damage and heat being done to your hair and it is optional. You don’t have options when you’re relaxed, unless you roller set only to minimalize heat or just slick your hair back in a bun. I can do all of that also on natural hair.

    2. Coililana

      We’re not the “only race” to do anything. We’re just very inward-thinking (lack exposure) and not familiar with issues other ethnic groups face.

      The hair that we complain about because it “takes work”, some women I’ve known with flat hair that needs a ton of mousse and gel to hold one curl, would die for.

  10. Kai

    I haven’t had a relaxer in 10+ years but when I had a relaxer I got my hair done all the time, so the maintanance was always in the hands of my stylist. When I stopped relaxing, I still got it done at a shop where it was pressed or flatironed. When I started doing my own hair (flatironed or twist ot etc.) It took a long time to do both. When I wore it straight I had to blow dry and then flat iron my hair, which took a long time cause I have alot of thick hair. And now that I don’t straighten I spend that same time detangling and twisting. I was a product junkie then and I am one now, so hasn’t been a drastic change for me. Enjoy and take care of your hair. No matter how you decide to wear it.

  11. Tina Waters
    Tina Waters

    Read the Entire article. Can’t be more sure that the article should be renamed. Maybe “maintaining your hair” or “personal hygiene”.
    You have to do your hair like you have to wear clothes. It’s not a chore, you’re not chained to your hair having to constantly be doing something to it. I love my hair both permed and natural….more natural and I love maintaining it. I’m no slave to it.

  12. tmw

    This is a little off topic but I notice a few product junkies. I’m a reformed product junkie myself. I challenged myself to pick the poo and condtioner and 3 daily maintanence proudcts that I liked the most and only use them for three months… guess what? Three turned into six and now I’m in month nine… my wallet is thanking me… lol. But here is a surprising added benefit myhair seems healthier and easier to maintain… I’m not sure why (although I am spraying more water on it at night since I’m using less products). Maybe one of the hair bloggers can write about why sometimes less product sampling might mean healthier hair… just a thought….

  13. Kianda Skater Hagley
    Kianda Skater Hagley

    Styling time comes with practice and I certainly don’t agree with expense. People choose to make it expensive because they want to try every product going or they simply don’t know. There are a number of items in your kitchen which can be used in your hair: eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, banana etc…these items are not expensive. Water is the best moisturiser for our hair and that is free! People looking to make a quick buck who are clever have jumped on the “natural hair” bandwagon and are cashing in on all these products that are supposedly the best for our hair because of this natural hair movement that seems to be happening. Natural hair is hard to take care of if you don’t know what you’re doing and to be honest, there is no excuse not to know; the internet has tons of information! As far as I am concerned black women have been mentally conditioned to attach all sorts of negative connotations to natural hair so much so that we will find any excuse such as its too hard or expensive. Not buying it.

  14. Asha Lewis
    Asha Lewis

    There isn’t any such thing as “hair slavery”. Natural get extremely annoying sometimes. I love this page but, this post smh.

  15. Shannii

    Great article. Clearly many of you didn’t read this article. You just read the title and ran with that.
    SMH…Its obvious WE are extremely touchy about the word slavery.

    1. Carmen

      I read the entire article. And yes, WE are touchy about the word slavery. Don’t we have good reason to be? I really try to forget abut the horrors of slavery, but I just watched 12 Years a Slave. Movies like that are a painful reminder of what our people went through. Not once while I watched the movie did I think about how when I had a perm, I was a slave to the perm, or now that I’m natural, Im a slave to detangling and SSKs. And slavery doesn’t just stop at blacks and African slavery- we have child sex slaves in AND outside of the US, illegal immigrants who are forced into slavery, etc. Slavery is just too deep of word to describe any type of hair choice. The fact that we can choose our hair stye- whether it be permed or natural- says that we are not SLAVES because we have a CHOICE.

      1. shannii

        We should educate ourselves about slavery; we shouldn’t forget what these people went through and what some are still going through; but slavery is a word. Should the world refrain from using the word ‘slavery’ because of what OUR people went through. I don’t think so.

  16. Esther Jackson

    I think your article was very informative. I know when I had relaxed hair it was more expensive, I hated the lye & touch ups. My hair growth showed every 2 weeks.but you can not touch up that fast. Ultimately to save my hair I stopped relaxing it. I also stopped dyeing my hair. I felt i gained my freedom but only in time and money. I do a different regimine. I braid my hair after shampoo and conditioning, or wear a pony tail that is natural. I never blow dry my hair any more. In a day or te roller wo I will straigten my hair with the roller brush style and set it that evening. So I wear my hair both ways. Whatever is comfortable for others is fine with me.
    Just don’t be critacal of someone if their hair is natural or straight. because some people have different textures of hair. I think that the natural look lovely, my hair will not curl it just frizzes out so I would have to do some kind of wet set to make curls and that is too much work and uncomfotable to sleep in. We all should admire our sisters different hair styles because ou hair is beautiful..

  17. Monica Pace

    ” I am not my hair”-India.Arie

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