After spending time researching, learning, and working with my hair I have found the answer to most of my questions concerning how to maintain the health of my hair. Unfortunately, when I was born I did not come with an instruction manual that explained the how to care for my hair. Since I have coarse, dry, long, and thick hair I have had a hard time figuring out what works for me.
I have worn my hair natural and I worn my hair relaxed. Overall, I enjoyed my relaxed hair the most. My first hair relaxer was done professionally by a stylist named Diane, and she made my hair look fantastic. My long hair was not unruly or a pain to comb. Instead the comb would run down my sleek tresses with barley a snag. This lasted for some time, or until I had access to my first curling iron. Needless to say my relaxed hair became dry and started to break off. I used heat on my hair virtually everyday and mostly on the ends the most delicate part of the hair. I was young, so I did not truly know the amount of damage I was doing to my hair. After a while my tail bone length hair slowly shrunk to waist length then to bra strap. Yet, because it was still pretty long I did not complain too much about the breakage and my mom’s scissor happy ways.
Over the years though I forgot much of what my mother taught me about my hair. She would only comb my hair under running water, and then soon after she would blow dry, use hair food on my scalp and then braid it up until next wash time. Two plats that was my hair style and I grew so tired of the same style over and over again. I saw other girls who had curls and styles and braids- I wanted in on the styling action. I tried to copy and imitate the styles I saw. Now here I am in middle school and the blow dryer, curling iron, and hair spray became my best friend.
Then, in high school I cut my hair off. First shoulder length, then to the bottom of my ear, then to the top of my ear. I loved the fact that it only took a few minutes to do my hair. Yet, it was dry all the time and I did not know what to do with it at all. I was addicted to the salon treatment. After having short hair for sometime I then saw the girls around me with long hair and I wanted my hair back. I grew my relaxer out and this brought me into college. I had a time with my hair. Because I like to wear my hair straight I would press and then curl my hair with tons of hair oil. It would get all over my clothes and really make a mess. But, my hair grew and got really long. After I gained the length, I relaxed my hair, cut it again, and then grew the relaxer out all over again.
I felt so frustrated with the texture of my hair. In some parts it is really wavy and soft, but the hair in the crown of my head is very dry, and coarse. It takes forever to dry and even longer to comb without giving me a migraine of sorts. Then, I relaxed my hair again. This time I thought I knew what to do to keep my hair healthy and damage free. For the most part everything went well for a while. I used a mild relaxer. My hair still had curl, but it was more manageable. Yet, I noticed a stretched feeling to my hair like my hair had too much elasticity. Then I tried the much acclaimed and very expensive phytorelaxer (no lye). It did not burn my scalp, but it destroyed the ends of my hair. The directions tell you not to cut the ends until after you relax, and I know why now.
My hair was thicker and had more body to it versus when I relaxed my hair with no lye. I tried different brands of lye relaxer and the best by far was Crème of Nature. I tried Dudley’s, Affirm, Revlon, Elasta QP, Crème of Nature and they all left my hair with very little body and thickness. It seemed like my hair was stuck at one length and in one place. Sodium hydroxide was too harsh for my scalp and too strong for my hair (lye), lithium hydroxide (no lye-no mix) dried my hair out, and made it hard, but calcium hydroxide (no-lye mix) that was the winner. Kind of sad that I had to take my hair through all of that before I realized I was on to something. I relaxed my hair with Crème of Nature no-lye in regular formula. The relaxer did not burn my scalp at all, and it smoothed the new growth out without it being stuck to my head. I rinsed it out, and I was very nervous because of all the hype I read on hair boards and by other authors. Never use no lye they would say- lye is the only moisturizing relaxer. I have news for them my hair is very moist from the relaxer, and very strong feeling. I have had no breakage and it feels stronger then the rest of my hair.
Rule number one of hair care: be consistent. You must be consistent if you want to see long term results. It is not about what you do today, but a culmination of your past efforts. Hair wants to grow; it must grow; that is its job one might say. It is growing and will grow until the end. Therefore, you have to hold up your end of the bargain. My hair said “ok, I will grow for you, and you will have to take care of me.” My hair does grow, but I have not been holding up my end of the bargain all that well.
I now have a better regime to retain my hair length.