If you have not learned the ‘truth’ about afro hair care, not the nonesense many ‘professional’ salons teach but the actual truth that moisture aka water is your friend and not your foe, you may have a hard time convincing other black women on hair care techniques.
Not too long ago, a relative and I started discussing hair. She’s never had a relaxer and has worn her hair in weaves(affiliate link) from early teenagehood. Her hair has never got past her shoulders. Having natural hair does not guarantee long hair if it’s not taken care of. She hates getting her weave(affiliate link) wet and wears it for 2 months at a time. When she wears a weave(affiliate link) with some of her own hair out, it is straightened every day and as a result she proudly proclaimed to me that it doesn’t even ‘kink’ up any more when she washes it!
I sat there and listened to her for a few minutes open-mouthed and gobsmacked by some of the comments she made.
* Water dries out her hair
* Her favourite moisturiser is an oil
* She wants to relax her hair because her natural hair is unmanageable
* The relaxer will mean that she can have wash and go hair
* Hair lookes better when it’s dirty (I almost kicked her out when she said this!)
I didn’t even know where to start with this lady. Not wanting to sound dictatorial, I decided to question some of the points she brought up by answering her questions with a question.
Why does she think that water dries out afro hair? Hair, be it afro, caucasian, asian or whatever is all made of the same protein. Most of the other races wash their hair very nearly every day so why doesn’t it dry out theirs? She didn’t have an answer, they just had different hair from us she guessed.
When she hears moisture, what is the first thing that pops in her head? Water obviously, she said. So why is it that she thinks that an oil is the best moisturizer? She laughed a bit nervously. She could see what I was doing.
Well, what do you suggest? She asked. I knew that if I went into a tirade of the best hair care regimen, she would probably tune out. I just directed her to Blackhairinformation.com
BHI is not by any means the most complete of hair care resources but it’s pretty informative for a hair care virgin and by that I mean a person who doesn’t know squat about real hair care and just blindly follows the teachings from childhood or from stylists who don’t know anything about afro hair. Sometimes it’s better to read for yourself than have someone preach to you!
Why anyone would opt to relax their hair because they think that the hair that they were born with is ‘unmanageable’ is beyond me. Have you even given your own hair a chance? Most havent and decide that if a comb gets through their hair easier it means it’s more manageable! I’m not against relaxers, certainly not, I know women with very long (mid back length and longer) healthy relaxed hair and their regimens are on point, from the relaxers they use to their techniques of relaxing and their waiting periods between touch ups. Just relax your hair for the right reason and with the right attitue to keep it healthy as you go along.
Relaxing your hair is a process that should not be taken lightly, many have probably heard this all before but never actually taken it in or realise why people say this so much. It is simply that relaxing your hair breaks down bonds inside the hair shaft in a permanent process that weakens it. Relaxed hair is weaker than natural hair, full stop!
However, well taken care of relaxed hair is strenghthened constantly with moisturizing and protein conditioners to keep it in optimum condition hence it can still rival any natural hair and grow long, strong and healthy. This however is a complex process of finding the right balance between moisture and protein for the strands on your own head and many either don’t have the patience or the know how to do it hence we see lots of black women with hair around the same length which I like to call terminal length (between neck length and slightly past shoulder length). What I would like to see is black women growing their hair, relaxed or natural, to mid back length and longer!
And to dispell an old myth. Even with relaxed hair, sometimes heat is required to get it straight. A relaxer is unlilkely to get rid of every kink in african american hair due to the amount of bonds in it. Even after a ‘bone straight’ relaxer, if you get rained on or wet it in the shower without completing styling it to keep it straight, a certain amount of wave and frizz is inevitable. Certainly there are no-heat methods to keep hair straight after the shower but this requires time so wash and go hair is not a guarantee!
Lastly, hair looks better when its dirty? I will not even dignify this with a response!
To conclude, is teaching your hair virgin friends to care for their hair a lesson in time wasting? Only if they are not interested in hearing your advice, but if you continue repeating your advice over and over and they watch as your locks grow long and luxuriously healthy, they will eventually listen. Hey, it’s how I finally learned!!
Originally posted 2010-02-23 19:16:22.