Let me start by saying I'm no expert.
Okay, may as well start from the top. HAIR! I mean, it only lives on top of our heads (and sometimes everywhere else, but mostly the head for plenty fortunate souls). Oh, what a long story.
So, while everyone seems to be going natural, here I am still finessing my love affair with "creamy crack". Chris Rock made an informative movie on black women and the process of achieving "Good Hair", I never even watched it, but I might especially after writing this. I didn't watch it because I know that getting a relaxer is not the best thing to do to any head, let alone doing it once every six weeks for years and years. Yet, here I am. All my friends are natural. Like all of them, even my two sisters (one of which is a hair stylist). They are constantly trying to will me from the dark side into the light (aka going natural). I just can't do it and I don't want to hear about all the awful things about it either. So, like all things, I will just hole myself up in my home and come up with a solution that works very well for me. Don't be worried. This is typical Jas-like behavior.
When I was a little girl, I was natural, naturally. Duh! I had what many considered a pretty good head of hair. It was big, thick and bouncy. But afroish; I think I happily reside somewhere between a 4A and a 4B on those hair charts that are so helpful now a days. My friend, Tashanna guided me to this wonderful bit of information. Anyway, when I was a child, I would dance around the living room with the neck of my shirt or sweater tightly adjusted to the base of my head. I'd swing my head from side to side, reveling in the weight of the sweater bouncing around on my back. "Upside down you turn me.." I was a seven year old Diana Ross. When I took the sweater off it was back to my regular self: Cungo plaits and afro puffs that I'd better not take out of my ponytail holder. "Don't lose those barrettes" was a serious worry back then. However, you get the picture. I needed more and more HEALTHY hair to swing around. That was how I wanted to go forth in this life.
The reality: I grew up in an Antiguan household with a mother who believed that you look neat and tidy, which didn't leave much room for hair swinging. during the school year once a week, usually on Saturdays or Sundays, my sister, Tory and I got our hair washed and we sat still between my mom's sturdy slim thighs and had our hair blow dried, parted & greased with green Dax or yellow Soft Sheen, then it was time to part even more carefully and plait, or cornrow into intricate styles. It was an awfully long and painful process. I ABSOLUTELY HATED IT! To top it all off, we never really looked like the other girls in school who got to wear their hair pressed or relaxed. Smooth and straight was reserved for Easter Sunday and weddings. My grandma was a hair dresser back then and all the girl children went to her house to get their hair pressed in the kitchen. The pressing comb scared me most of all. Go ask someone else about that process.
I was thirteen when I got my first relaxer, my mom was PISSED! But it was too late, I fell in love with this new found hair and it was wonderful. However, the lack of knowing exactly how to take care of it made the love affair short lived. Over the years it was braids, then a short stint of going back to being natural (but not by choice). Finally, I was on my own in the world and made my own decisions. I wore my hair short, because that was the look in the late 90s and early 2000s. Of course I still relaxed it; think Halle Berry circa 1996. Then, it was just hair for a long time. I went with whatever it did. If I got a relaxer, I knew that my scalp was going to get burned. I'd just have to nurse it. I had to keep a curling iron, because I didn't wake up like this. As I grew older, the only other alternative for me was to wear box braids. That was my only break. Which wasn't always a good one, because there would be a lot of breaking when I'd take them out. So back to relaxers it was.
I'd sit in salons for hours (because that's what you do at a black salon). It was maddening. The only option outside of that was going to the Dominican salons, which is heavy in New York City. They are literally everywhere and they are inexpensive, unlike black salons. That's what I do now, go to the Dominicans when I need a relaxer. I do the rest myself for six straight weeks until I'm there again. Did I not mention that most of my life I have been on a budget? Well, then there's that. So, after a while, my sister, Tory started building clientele and I joined the ranks. It was perfect, because she'd come to my house and we'd catch up while she did my hair. The only problem is that it still took hours and someone else still witnessed the damage that I was doing to myself in between these relaxers. I couldn't have that.
To top it all off, while going through my stressful divorce, my hair fell out. Wait whet?! Yes. One day my hair had a tantrum and fell out and didn't come back. The worst part is that it was my edges. WAY WORSE than breakage. It was like a temporary case of Alopecia Areata. You google that and come right back. I was delusional at first. Then I swung into action and bought all the hair loss products that I could find. Special shampoos, the deepest conditioners, oils of all kinds, and all the hair vitamins. I went to my doctor and found out that I was stressed out. So, I had to start below ground zero by eliminating the stress first then taking care of my hair next. So, after I cried, did many a rain dance and sat still for a long time, I scoured the internet for solutions. Hairfinity was my supplement of choice. It worked well for me. I got everything down to the tiny vile of edges serum. I also used Just Naturals products as well as Bean Stalk oil. I'm happy to report that this regimen not only helped the remaining hair grow stronger and more healthy, but my edges are also slowly coming back to life...Back to reality. Like I can actually see follicles and wisps. Which gives me such a greater appreciation for any hair type at all. Jokes about sparse edges set my world on fire for a while, but now it's just a part of my story and you can truly bounce back with a little dedication.
The breakdown and break out of my hair gave me a better understanding of having an actual hair regimen. I have always been a fan of washing my hair diligently. I love clean hair. Don't believe too much of the hype, some black women actually want their man to touch their hair. My hair and scalp had to get used to this, but my hair falls in line now that I've trained it. My favorite shampoo to use is Clear Scalp & Hair 24/7 Total Care (with omega-3 & coconut milk). I wash my hair sometimes as often as every other day. Yes, black women. I do. :) It's okay, your hair will survive. I deep condition every time I wash with, Silicon Mix Hair Treatment by Avanti. This product is my holy grail and it smells incredible. My brother, Alex actually sniffs my hair almost every time I see him. I'm smiling. Then I blow dry - but this is the part that causes breakage, I know. I know. Therefore, I alternate with air drying if I have enough time to spare. Then I flat iron, this too is not the most awesome of tactics, but it's what I do. I find it wise to invest in a good flat iron. I got mine at Sephora. The GHD Gold Professional 2" Styler is my favorite and you only have to go over pieces of hair once. After flat ironing I use a small amount of MoroccanOil Treatment for shine. One of the major parts of my hair regimen is my slap cap by Grace Eleyae - her online store has all types of hair safe goodies. I wrap my hair (Google online wrap instructions). Then there is the heavy weight, Hairfinity vitamins twice a day and lots of water. Presto! Healthy hair or my version of it. Keep in mind that this process, wash to wrap takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to achieve. It's easier and quicker than it sounds. Alas, I do not have long luxurious hair. It's just me and these five to six inches.
OH! Last but not least, I trim my hair like every four to five weeks. I cut my own hair, because I'm still on a budget, it's something that should be done often, and I don't trust anyone else more than I trust myself anymore. Yes, sometimes my hair is a little lopsided, but I don't mind it usually works out the next time I do it. No, I didn't take a class. I just watched what all those hairdressers used to do and I do it too. It works for me and that's all. Bye.
- www.amazon.com (for shampoo, conditioner & deep conditioner, Bean Stalk serum)
- www.graceeleyae.com (slap cap)
- www.sephora.com (flat iron)
- www.moroccanoil.com (Moroccan Oil treatment)
- Hairfinity.com (BROCKBEAUTY hair vitamins)