At the tender age of 3, yes 3, my wonderful mother relaxed my hair! I have always had very tight, kinky hair and apparently did not like getting it done. As the story goes - my father told my mother to do something to stop the screaming at the top of my lungs when getting my hair done so her solution was to relax!
Fortunately, my strong kinky 4b hair was able to withstand the relaxer at 3, jheri curl at 5 (shout out to all of the 80's babies...lol), and re-relaxing around 7. I went to my stylist every 2 weeks and relaxed every 5 weeks like clockwork! My hair was in pretty decent shape despite the frequent relaxers and use of heat. It was always a blunt cut a little past shoulder length and did not go beyond. I had the same stylist from age 7 through college and then decided it was time for a change.
My next stylist was a little more educated on hair health and got me into the habit of relaxing every 12 weeks, or "stretching" as the hair world calls it. This combined with sew in weaves did yield healthier hair and a few more inches of length, but overall my hair was still a thick, shoulder length, blunt cut.
In August 2009 I decided to go natural with the logic that I really liked my relaxed hair, but I wanted it to grow longer. I couldn't seem to get past shoulder length, so I figured that if I stopped putting chemicals in my hair it would be stronger in its natural state and better able to grow. At this point I wasn't familiar with the concept of hair growth vs. length retention. I was discouraged from going natural by several people (stylist, mother, etc.) since my hair is so thick and coarse, but anyone who knows me will tell you - when I set my mind on something, it's already done! I did not big chop because that's not my style. I gradually grew out the relaxer over a one-year period.
As my natural hair continued to grow out, I was more and more dissatisfied with how my stylist handled my hair. Getting my hair washed and dried became a torture session. For that reason along with a few others, I changed stylists to my current one. My current stylist is more into hair health than my prior one and was able to help me continue to understand what's best for the health of my hair. One thing that she noted was that when I was getting relaxers, they were too straight! I needed to have some texture left, but I didn't so my hair was over processed.
Fast-forward a few months and I'm still natural, no relaxer left in my hair, but still no length. Another item to note is that I am an avid exerciser and work out daily in the AM, so I sweat a ton! The challenge with having natural hair was keeping it presentable while still maintaining my healthy lifestyle. So far, I was not having much luck with my hair and exercise schedule. Translation - I would go to work looking like a certified, factory direct Furby (remember those?)! I started getting my hair cornrowed at the salon and wearing lace front wigs in order to look presentable on a regular basis. This worked for a few months, but getting my hair done was still a torture fest due to the natural state, thickness, etc. My stylist talked to me about getting a texturizer, which she explained was the same as a relaxer, just under-processed, i.e. "texlaxed" in the hair world. I wasn't quite ready to get a relaxer because once I did that, if I wanted to return to natural, I would have to undergo another two year process which I'm just not up for (although I think I would big chop the second time around). She also talked to me about getting a Brazilian Keratin Treatment. I had heard of the treatment, but I wanted to do more research before committing.
I was poking around the internet one day trying to find some natural hairstyles or ideas for my hair in general that would fit my personal style and my workout routine and I came across Ms. Kibibi's site and my jaw dropped! From there I was tangled in the web of this whole new hair world where each click lead to another fabulous head of hair that was more gorgeous than the one before. I was hooked and knew that I had to be apart. I joined KISS at the end of March 2011 and declared that the start of my hair journey (my sister and I are on it together...she's my BFF). So with all of this wonderful new knowledge and more importantly, all of these beautiful RELAXED heads of healthy hair, I knew it was possible to have chemically treated hair that was healthy and long.
I was still dissatisfied with my hair, tangling, single strand knots, etc. so I decided to try a Brazilian Keratin Treatment (I got the Marcia Teixiera Chocolate). It was AMAZING when I first got it done. I didn't love the process to get it in my hair, but the results were great. The first time I got my hair done after the BKT, it was as if I had a relaxer. The blow-drying process was flawless, no knots, etc....it felt great! I actually only lost about 20% of my curl pattern with the BKT, so it seemed to do just enough to make my hair more manageable. Unfortunately that was short lived. The second time I got my hair done after the BKT, it was back to torture, single strand knots, etc.
That's when I declared two things:
1. I was going back to the creamy crack
2. From that point on, I would be taking care of my hair myself!
So friends, that's my story and where "What's Up With My Hair?" picks up!