Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Before you use that relaxer on your Afro hair...
The above is a scalp that met with a relaxer. Its sourced online at this link http://akorra.com/2010/03/21/9-reasons-to-avoid-perms-and-relaxers/
Please click the link as it gives 8 more graphic illustrations of the dangers in relaxers. This is an extreme example of what we are in danger of doing to ourselves, some like yours sincerely have been doing it since secondary school! Hers is a particularly bad burn but at least its true. In my earliest romance with relaxers, I had my scalp burnt so many times. The last time I used a cup was so bad, only God knows what the contents were but almost immediately it was applied to my hair, the bits that (usually) gets on our scalp immediatley started burning me! I told the stylist that my scalp was burning, but she said it cant be true, I only just got there, besides its perfectly normal and that I had to wait a while longer as my hair was thick. She also said other ladies do the same. I remember the horrible smell, the unbearable feeling of burning and my increasing cries for them to wash it out. Gosh, I remember hardly being able to bear washing it out, it felt like my scalp on fire, my hair was stuck to my scalp and I couldnt do anything but wash it out,could hardly sit still! I wept through out the experience and had serious burns and scalding on my scalp for a while. Even as horrific as that experience I was, I continued to relax my hair only changing to a no-lye relaxing kit! Amazing what bizarre choices we make without researching on the long term effects!
Yep, am here to talk about our hair! The maintenance of afro textured hair to be precise. Each strand of Afro hair type grows in a tiny spring-like, corkscrew shape. The overall effect is such that, despite relatively fewer actual hair shafts compared to straight hair, this texture appears (and feels) denser than its straight counterparts. Due to this, it is often referred to as 'thick', 'bushy', or 'woolly'. For several reasons, possibly including its relatively flat cross section among other factors, this hair type also conveys a dry or matte appearance. It is also very coarse, and its unique shape also renders it very prone to breakage when combed or brushed. Adjectives such as "firm", "kinky", "nappy" or "spiralled" are often used to describe natural afro-textured hair in Western societies.
Source: Wiki (granted, an unreliable source but look this is true, am a real life example :P)
I am thinking of resorting to my natural, spiral, thick hair, but I am worried about maintenance, so did some research on Afro hair and can I just say that there was a lot of information on how to relax/perm our hair, but hardly enough on how to maintain it! I digress.
One really positive way of looking at our hair is that we are the only people on the planet that God has blessed with this type of hair that is so versatile. Every other ethnic group has straight hair that does not hold a style by itself. Where our hair is full of body and life, people with naturally straight hair have to process their hair in order to give it the body that ours naturally has! We can put in braids, twists, locks, extensions, cornrows - all of which hold their shape and stay in for a long time.
I LOVE the picture above because it reminds me of my early hair care days. In primary school, my mum used to arrange to arrange for our hair to be done into weaves just like this style and several others, not a single relaxer in sight! We should celebrate this wonderfully versatile hair that God has given us.
A lot of women including me, today relax their hair so that each corkscrew shaped hair strand becomes, thinner, straighter and therefore longer. They argue that this kind of hair is very easy to maintain and they want to get rid of the rigid curly hair texture.Permanent waving, or relaxing are the most common treatments to straighten tightly coiled hair.
Chemical relaxing is an effective hair straightening treatment.Once applied, the next application of relaxers can only be done after a long period of time, usually 4-6 weeks. If possible, it is better to apply them only only on the new hair growth.
Once the application of hair relaxers is complete, it is strictly advised not to comb the hair to avoid the effects of the chemcials on the scalp.
Africans/ African-Americans sometimes color or bleach their hair after the application of relaxers. Color, whether applied after permanent waving or without the hair undergoing any treatment, should be done with utmost care in order to prevent the harmful effects of dyes.
But pause for a second and think again, what were African women doing to maintain their afros in a stress free way BEFORE relaxers or dyes or weaves were invented?
Note that I am not totally knocking relaxers nor even weaves or braids, but I am presenting an alternative way of reasoning.
Research seem to indicate that Garrett Augustus Morgan was one of the earliest inventor of chemically processing afro hair. Though he is best known for his invention of the automatic traffic signal and gas mask, it was around 1910 that he stumbled upon what would become his contribution to the hair care products industry and what would pave the way for several other entrepreneurs and manufacturers over the next hundred years.
While working in a sewing machine repair shop attempting to invent a new lubricating liquid for the machine needle, it is widely believed that Morgan wiped his hands on a wool cloth, returned the next day, found the woolly texture of the cloth had “smoothed out”, and set out to find how the liquid chemical had changed the texture as it had. He experimented on an Airedale dog, known for their curly textured hair, and the effect was successfully duplicated.
Morgan then tried his lubricating liquid invention on himself, called it a “hair refining cream”, and thus patented the first chemical hair straightener. He founded a personal grooming products company which included hair dying ointments, curved-tooth pressing combs, shampoo, hair pressing gloss, and the one that started it all: the “G.A. Morgan's Hair Refiner Cream” (advertised to “Positively Straighten Hair in 15 Minutes”).
Dude had no idea how popular his invention will become. lol.
What makes you so CONFIDENT IN that chemical more or less burning and thinning your hair? Sodium Hydroxide is the strongest type of principal chemical used in some chemical relaxers because it provides the most long lasting and dramatic effects. However, this same sodium hydroxide is found in drain cleaners which well demonstrates the strength of this chemical. It is what is used in products that are referred to as “lye” relaxers. The strength varies from a pH factor of 10 to 14. With higher pH, the faster the straightening solution will take hold, but the more potential the damage. Guanidine Hydroxide is the other common option of relaxer chemical used today. This is what is referred to as “no-lye” relaxers. This label can be misleading to some consumers. It does not imply that there aren't any strong chemicals used or that the chemicals used are somehow less potentially damaging. Some have mistakenly thought that with “no-lye” relaxers there are less steps and all the worry of chemical hair straightening is removed. Although this type of chemical hair relaxer can be less damaging than its counterpart, the hair and scalp should be in top condition before attempting treatment, and this type also requires special care when applied.
If newly chemically straightened hair is not given special treatment it can become brittle, dry, damaged and break. Relaxed hair will tend to be drier and break easily. (Make us understand why ladies who have relaxed their hair for a long period of time, suddenly get a receding hairline, or loss of hair aka BALDING
Some ladies add a weave immediately after relaxing their hair, further adding more weight to their, now, weak hair and sensitive skull resulting in hair breakage. This pattern when continued for long periods of time also results in partial baldness.
That is Naomi Campbell, a supermodel who definitely has the resources to take good care of her hair, but perhaps she doesnt have this knowledge or have the time to consider that receding hairline as a symptom of 'hair abuse' over exended periods. She should take better care of her natural hair, just like me and you.:)
Well, remember once you've made the decision to chemically straighten the hair you have also decided to commit to regular quality conditioning treatments to maintain not only the look you want, but the healthy hair you desire.
Between visits to your hair care professional, LIMIT the use of hot styling tools (such as blow dryers, hot combs, and curling irons). Try not to use heat on your hair at all between visits if possible. Due to the possibility of suffering hair damage, again it is strongly recommended that one consult a hair care professional when deciding on chemical straightening their hair. Some have chosen to apply these chemicals on their own using the “box kits” readily available everywhere. However, if this is your choice it would be better to make sure that someone else is on hand to help you in the preparation, timing, and complete rinse and removal of the chemical.
And if you have decided not to chemically straighten your hair at all, there are still many styles and good hair care techniques available to you, helping you to enjoy your natural hair you've been blessed with. But it seems as if that we do not know how to care for and style our natural hair or we think that wearing our natural hair will not be easily accepted in our social lives, workplace or at school. This is probably true since many of us are not comfortable with our natural hair, people of other ethnic groups are not used to seeing our natural hair and therefore do no appreciate the beauty in it. These situations, however, can provide the perfect opportunity for us to educate people of our own as well as other ethnic groups. We can teach people about the beauty of our natural hair and correct unfortunate stereotypes that exist about people that wear natural hairstyles.
Another thing is that we think that our thick, full-bodied hair must hurt when washed and combed and we think there are no styles that we can put our hair in. In addition, we and others have become so accustomed to seeing our hair straight that we find it hard to appreciate the beauty in the natural hairstyles.
It actually takes less time to maintain a natural hairstyle than it does to maintain processed hair. Styles such as corn rows, flat twists and other styles using extensions can stay in for a month to six weeks. The time that it takes to put these styles in initially will vary, but once they are in, we can wash our hair and the style still looks good. With other styles such as afros and locks, we can wash our hair and go – or we can style the afro or the locks.
Isnt her hair beautiful? Those group of people that would love to enjoy their NATURAL UNIQUE HAIR should continue to the next section as there are a few tips from a fan page.
// Someone asked me about twisting your own hair. i do small twists with my hair dry and then i wash it (the twists - and i use both shampoo and conditioner). It comes out really nice after washing, it shrinks giving it more shape and the ends get curly etc but... if you have kinky hair it can get your hair tangled and so cut a bit, so when you are loosening it you have to be very very careful and patient.
I have extremely kinky hair which was painful and impossible to comb especially after the baby so i had no choice but to soften it. I used a texturizing softner. It gave me my still natural hair but softer, easier to comb, not painful and with a softer curly look. It may feel like you are using a relaxer but i assure you it wont perm/straighten your hair (except maybe your hair is really soft and maybe if you process it for a long time, i can't say) but you'll see if you look at my profile pic, i still have an afro. Its called Soft and beautiful just for me texturizing softner (its for kids)
i recommended it to someone who has long and soft natural hair and she is so happy with the results. i like it too. you can try it and it doesn't make you loose your natural look... i still have my afro.
Then to style my hair, i use a leave-in conditioner that defines the curls even more. After i shampoo and condition my hair, i comb it in the shower, towel dry and then i apply the leave-in conditioner and rake thru with my fingers to keep the curls. Its called mixed chicks http://www.mixedchicks.net/leaveinconditoner.html.
its been really good for me and i recently bought a litre bottle of it!
Another alternative is Botanicals hair moisturizer for natural and textured hair. Pretty good as well, its what i had used in the pic with my baby. But i feel you need to moisturize your hair with some kind of oil with this one, cause my hair feels a little rubbery when it gets dry.
Same process, comb hair in shower after washing and conditioning, then apply to wet hair, rake thru with fingers and let dry naturally
I moisturize my hair with shea butter. Pink oil i think is horrible for natural hair. I hear that you can steam your hair with shea butter, never tried it, but shea butter is good for hair so it shouldnt be a bad idea.
So that in a nutshell is my entire hair regime. Hope it helps, let me know if you try it and how it comes out. Sorry for the long mail, i tend to be detailed. all the best o! I know how it is, natural hair is not easy :-)
Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner //
What do you think? Please the above is by no means exhaustive, so if you have any other tips, do share or do place a link so we can go and learn from that blog. Thanks
P.s: I hope I dont sound like a doomsday preacher or something, lol, I am just educating myself and maybe others on the long term effects of continous abuse on our afro. We owe it to ourselves to invest in more healthy means of hair maintenance so we can better educate the next generation of African ladies of the wide range of hair care choices available to them..
Sources: http://www.learninglinkco.net/Hair.html www.mixedchicks.netr, http://www.hair-dressing.com/hair-care/black-hair-care.shtml http://www.skinbiology.com/truthabouthairrelaxers.html
http://www.impactfolios.com/gerrymayo/page8951.htm http://akorra.com/2010/03/21/9-reasons-to-avoid-perms-and-relaxers/ www.truthinaging.com