Britney Dearest: Quit Relaxers and "Go Natural" With Less Pressure

/ Thursday, May 15, 2014

Quit Relaxers and "Go Natural" With Less Pressure

Hi Ladies!

I think this is my first detailed natural hair blog post! I usually shy away from talking about "natural hair" because there's more than enough information and more than enough stories and journeys, tips, how-to's and everything else curly hair related on the the world wide web. However, I was inspired and compelled to express some of my opinions on this topic because I think some of us naturals have the tendency to scare away our relaxed "sistas" with all our natural hair rules and regulations.


Now... First let me explain that I am NOT one of those over the top anti-flat iron, anti-weave, anti-wig people. I really like weaves and wigs, have worn weave a few times myself since I've been fully natural and I have flat ironed my hair. I am anti-relaxer.

May 2014
Have you seen the Chris Rock documentary "Good Hair"? Did you see what that perm did to the Coke can??? It dissolved an aluminum can! I didn't even see the movie until after I stopped getting relaxers back in May or June of 2010 and although I had already made up my mind that I would never again put a relaxer on my head, seeing that movie further solidified my decision. Clearly, the documentary didn't have the same effect on many other women as it had on me because there are many many Brown women who still relax their hair.

I recently watched a video on YouTube that I really liked (full video at the bottom) titled, "What a Relaxer is Really Doing to Your Hair" where a young lady performed an experiment showing the effects relaxers/perms have on our hair and it was very enlightening, even more than "Good Hair". It inspired me to type this blog post. The young lady received a lot of good feedback and a lot of negative as well. She was accused of having bad intentions such as trying to invoke fear into those who prefer relaxers. Obviously, I completely disagreed with those negative comments and I was encouraged to comment on the video. This is what I had to say:

"IMO she is simply informing viewers of the real effects relaxers have or can have on our hair. It doesn't seem like she's invoking fear, she's sharing an experiment that she was inspired to try. Obviously no one in their right mind would leave a relaxer on their hair for 8 hours. But just knowing the possibility is enough to shun me away from wanting a relaxer ever again. Personally, I don't care how healthy my hair was or wasn't when I had a relaxer, I don't want to knowingly or unknowingly use hazardous chemicals on my skin. I can't control the unhealthy air particles I may inhale on a daily basis when I'm outside or something, but I can control what I ingest and what I use on my body and I will chose as best I can. Relaxers may make our hair easier to maintain, but I'm not putting that stuff on my crown ever again and most definitely not my daughter. Not even a texturizer. God made us perfectly and I choose to embrace my natural, God-given beauty."


Summer 2012

Going Natural Without All the "Extra"

Common statements I hear a lot of relaxed women make are, "MY HAIR IS JUST TOO NAPPY TO GO NATURAL" and "I DON'T HAVE THE PATIENCE TO DEAL WITH IT" or, "NATURAL HAIR JUST ISN'T FOR ME". A lot of natural women may completely disagree with this first point I'm about to type, but... It's my opinion. 


Early 2014
1. You do NOT have to wear your hair curly (in it's natural state) just because you are "natural". 

You can still flat iron your hair (at low temperatures) and wear your hair in straight styles that you would normally wear if your hair was relaxed. Not everyone may feel comfortable wearing their hair in it's natural state and here's another thought, some Black women may not even like their naturally curly hair. Here's a great example of "relaxed looking natural hair" in this video from MoKnowsHair:



If you saw this young lady, from the video, out in public you would assume she had a relaxer, right? I sure would. Flat ironing may loosen your natural curl pattern a tad bit (some call it heat damage- whatever), but if you don't intend to wear your hair curly in public after you are fully natural, it won't matter how loose your curls are, your hair will still be nice and thick. Flat ironing (with care) will not thin your hair. Taking good care of your hair and using products that protect your hair from heat prior to flat ironing will help to avoid any type of damage to your hair. Damage can occur even to fully natural hair that doesn't get straightened so don't let people scare you about breakage and heat damage. It's your hair. Do what you want, EXCLUDING PERMS/RELAXERS/TEXTURIZERS. :-)


Back in 2012 I believe with my bff and flat ironed hair.

Faux bob. I pinned up the back of my hair.

2. You do NOT have to BIG CHOP. 

If I could do my journey all over again, I would have been a long-term transitioner rather than cutting off my relaxed ends after seven months of transitioning. Why? Because once you cut off those relaxed ends, your newly natural hair is more susceptible to split ends and I dealt with split ends badly during my second and third year of being fully natural due to lack of TLC (tender love and care lol) and had to get a couple of big trims. 


Transitioning with a sew-in.
Transitioning with twists.
In my opinion, it's a lot easier to keep all your growth during the transition period if you properly care for your hair because you're only trimming your relaxed ends and you don't have to trim your natural ends until after the relaxed ends are gone. The breakage at the meeting point of the natural hair and relaxed hair that comes with transitioning isn't bad for the natural hair. It may make your relaxed ends look thinner, but it can look nice if you blend your relaxed ends well enough with your natural hair. Bantu knots and flexi-rods can help with that or you can wear protective styles such as braids or twists with extensions/weave. You can also flat iron your transitioning hair.


Transitioning weave-free with a bantu knot out faux-hawk.
Hiding my new growth under a beanie after a trim.
Back in December 2010, the month of my "big chop".
I still can't believe I wore my hair this short!

3. You don't have to use fully natural and organic products. 

... And it doesn't have to be expensive. Use what works for your hair and scalp. Finding what works best for you may be trial and error. You're dealing with a brand new texture that needs a different care regimen than your relaxed hair. I'm a loyal Shea Moisture brand user and it can be a little costly at it's normal price of $10-$15 a pop, HOWEVER, I only buy them (and stock up) when they're buy one get one free or buy one get one half off at CVS or Walgreen's. Target has good sales on Shea Moisture products from time to time as well.


2012

4. You don't have to eat fully natural/organic/whole foods.

It would be great if you did make that decision, but there are no special natural hair rules that says everyone has to be like HeyFranHey and Naptural85 and eat 100% organic everything. For the record, I absolutely enjoy watching their videos and learning from them during my family's transition to eating majority organic and whole foods and because of my dry, sensitive scalp I have been making my own organic hair products per advice of HeyFranHey.

2012

5. You don't have to wear a pound of makeup to look good with your natural hair, although it can make your overall look "pop".

That's all I have to say about that.


Spring 2014. No make-up.
Leaving a Trash to Treasure Party. I took home someones trash, the hat lol

6. Relaxers contain dangerous chemicals and have been linked to uterine fibroids and early puberty in young girls. There's a lot of information about this in the the video below. 

In my personal experience of getting relaxers I used to get horrible "perm burn" and could never get a relaxer without the nasty scabs on my scalp to follow, whether I scratched prior to the relaxer or not. My hair would itch like crazy when it was time for a relaxer. It's crazy that I put myself through that so many times over the years. Although I didn't know how bad the chemicals in relaxers are I should have had enough sense not to use something that was burning the crap out of my head lol! It was NOT worth the results; flat, thin hair.


2011
About the fibroids, I didn't have uterine fibroids, however, I did have two small cysts in that area (lower left quadrant) that burst a couple months ago. My doctor said cysts are normal around "that time" of the month so I didn't worry. Also, about 7 years ago I had two small lumps in my breast. I was biopsied, they were benign and I was told I had fibrocysts. I don't know when, but they did go away. I'm not insinuating that there's a connection between those mild conditions and relaxers. Never once did I even think those situations were linked to relaxers. I just thought about them while typing this post and thought I'd share since it could be a possibility of them being linked. A tiny scare tactic lol.

Sources: MyFoxAtlanta.com and BlackDoctor.org.






In conclusion, if you're relaxed and thinking about giving up the "creamy crack" I hope I have made the idea of being a curly girl seem a little less daunting than you thought it was before reading this post. If you decide to go the natural route I suggest that during your transition you educate yourself, but don't overwhelm yourself. There's so much information out there, some of it may contradict another individuals information, but you really just have to pave your own way for your journey. You don't know your true texture until you get a few inches of new growth and from there, look for naturals on YouTube who have a texture similar to yours. Even then, the same products or regimens that work for their hair may not work for yours. One thing that does work for many naturals is the LOC method which is explained it great detail on CurlyNikki.com. You can also search for it ("natural hair LOC method") on YouTube. The products used varies from person to person, but the process is the same: leave-in conditioner, oil, cream or leave-in conditioner, water-based creamy product, then oil to seal.



Some oldies...


2010
2011
2011
2011
2011
2011

Easter 2012
2012
Summer 2012
Who's your Burger Queen?






THANKS FOR READING!

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About Me

Hi! I'm Britney. I'm a wife and a mother to 3 children + 1 fur baby. I write about everything family, home, and DIY related. I'm slightly obsessed with home decor Instagram accounts and DIY blogs. Junk food is my peace. Read more

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