Relaxer, creamy crack, perm…whatever you call it, straightening ones hair is something all black women are familiar with in some way or another and ironically has become more taboo in recent years.
Why do we throw so much shade at women who choose to relax their hair? With the rise in black women embracing natural tresses and a pursuit of healthy hair, I can understand that a relaxer may not be the go-to styling technique for you. However, there is a big misconception that just because you are natural your hair is healthier than relaxed hair. This is not true, and it is time we stop trying to make women who choose to relax their hair feel inferior to those who do not.
I am a licensed cosmetologist with 15 years experience. From long days and nights in the salon to photoshoots and some celebrity clientele, I have seen a lot of things come and go but the relaxer, not so much. Since its development the relaxer and its application process has extremely evolved. Don’t get me wrong, I know first hand the serious danger and damaging effects of a bad relaxer. However, we are not only more educated on the relaxers potential dangers compared to prior years, but also how to prevent them. If you are taking the proper steps, you can have perfectly healthy relaxed hair.
Just about every black woman I know has had a relaxer at one point in time. Whether it was because your mom wasn’t trying to detangle a head full of natural kinks while you scream you lungs out or you just loved the way that fresh touch up had your hair blowing in the wind, we all know that this was like a right of passage in a young black girls life. Unfortunately for most, these experiences were tainted by the improper use of the relaxer and a client who wasn’t educated on good hair maintenance.
I grew up with had long thick beautiful hair that a single mother of 4 going to school and working full time, just didn’t have the time to manage. When I went down south to visit my aunt and cousin for the summer a local hairstylist recommended something that would lighten my mom’s load and of course she jumped on the opportunity. We later learned that the stylist would use a super perm and it would have super repercussions. My story is a lot like many black women. A lack of knowledge, bad professional hair care, and a dire need to make your natural hair more manageable lead many people to bad relaxer experiences. The lack of education on how to maintain and keep relaxed hair healthy often leads to hair damage.
In turn, most women grow to resent that very thing that was supposed to help them. I understand those feelings and I would never try to force those women to turn back to a relaxer. But for some reason, the natural hair community, thinks it isn’t enough to embrace their own natural hair and they need to force other women to do the same. Self-love and confidence is an important aspect of embracing your natural self but I know plenty of confident women very much in tune with themselves who just happen to choose to relax their hair and on top of that, they take great care of it.
Natural hair is popping right now so of course a lot of companies, salons, and stylist are going to jump on the bandwagon. Companies and brands tend to make it seem like having natural hair alone automatically makes your hair healthy and I am here to let you know that is not the case. There are plenty of natural hair women with horrible split ends, dry brittle hair, damaged edges, and more. Natural hair is not synonymous with healthy hair. We need not constantly hair shame women with relaxers. Unhealthy hair isn’t synonymous with a having a relaxer. Bad hair care (or lack there of) is the only thing that will cause your hair to be unhealthy. As I always stress to my clients, friends, and family you got to do whats best for you and your hairs health.
As a lover of hair and a hairstylist, I have had just about every hairstyle. I happen to be natural right now, for the second time, and that is by choice. I know that my desired styles don’t necessarily require a relaxer so I no longer get one. However if I decide that a sleek sexy hairstyle is the right thing for me I will throw some creamy crack in this head in a heartbeat and I can guarantee you my hair will be just as healthy.