February 27th, 2011 is the date of my last relaxer.
I had single braids that I kept in for about 2 months taken out, which re-affirmed my decision that I had made 5 years earlier that I’d stay away from single braids for a number of reasons. The main one of which is I felt I’d grown out of them. I’d been wearing single braids/single twists every 2-3 months since I was 11 or so. I had the occasional break with a few stints of relaxer but for a good 10+ years, I wore my hair in braids. But when I was in 2nd year at uni, I felt I was ready for a more mature look.
Then came the relaxers, ponytails, weaves, half weaves etc. The hair I loved and aspired to was long, black and wavy, like the Kardashians. And I was striving to have that sultry look. So I relaxed my hair and for the first time, at age 20, I had my hair flat ironed. Finally, my hair could move in the wind! My hair was slinky all the way down, not just the top bit but the whole thing! Finally I had the need to flick my hair out of my eyes using just my head (this was waaay before Justin Bieber trademarked that move). I became obsessed with hair. Anything, and everything hair. I researched how to maintain relaxed hair, and learned how to maintain my weaves. I became a hair guru. So much so, other black girls would stare at my attached ponytail, trying to figure out if it’s my real hair or an addition.
For the rest of my time at uni, I wouldn’t dare step out of my room without some kind of extension. Even though my hair had grown from being too short to tie into a ponytail to grazing the back of my neck. I just wanted loooong hair. I never had a specific target in mind but I just never was happy with the length it reached. I had conquered the thickness bit, thanks to my parents for giving me a massive head of hair (which I used to curse every time my mom attempted to comb it for my weekly cornrow session as a kid). I had/have so much hair, I usually use one box of relaxer to retouch it, and 1.5-2 boxes to do my whole head. So even when people told me I had nice hair, I never believed them because I’d wanted long, luscious hair so I wouldn’t feel like I “had” to wear a weave.
Anyways, so for the past 5 years, I’d been relaxing my hair. Last year, I experienced a bad trim job by my trusted hairdresser. Which for the first time in a few years, made me self conscious about wearing my own hair. So my hair was ridiculously uneven all over. I just wanted her to get rid of the split ends, but salons in TZ don’t seem to understand how to trim hair. Then, in January, I made another mistake. I got small single braids put in. I was about to move country, I had these packets of hair from my sis-in-law and I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with my hair for a bit. So I abandoned my promise to myself, and got them done. I’m not gonna lie, for the first month or so, I loved not having to wrap my hair every night. The braids were a different colour to what I usually do and it gave me a different look. But during the second month, I started getting irritated with them as I had to constantly detangle them, and they began to get matty and uncurly. I also saw that they were starting to pull my hair at the edges. So my plan was as usual. Go to the salon, get them to undo my braids, treat my hair then retouch and straighten. 7 hours and half my head of hair later, looking in the mirror at the final results caused me to almost cry and think: What the hell happened to my hair?? Where did it all go?? Is it really worth going through all of this just to get straight hair??! I know I shouldn’t have undone my braids and retouched on the same day. But I’d done it so many times before and got acceptable results. I left feeling naked, and weird. I knew this wasn’t the normal flatness I usually experience after a fresh relaxer. This was my hair telling me: STOP!!! I’m tired!! I’m exhausted, I’ve had enough, you better do something else or the rest of me is gonna go. The next day, I decided I’m gonna stop relaxing my hair. I thought to myself, if I could spend all that time, money and effort five years ago researching and studying relaxed hair, weaves etc., nothing of which I had known then…why couldn’t I do that with my own hair? As in, my natural, unchemicalised hair. For years, the reason I had to not ever having my natural hair out was that “I can’t take care of it”. But that day, I realised, I didn’t KNOW how to care for it. I never even really tried. Ever since my mom relaxed my hair when I was 8 or so, I understood that my natural hair was just too hard and stubborn to even comb without breaking a comb.
So, I began my research. This is my hair journey. I hope to be able to look over this blog and remember the advice and inspiration I’ve come across in my research. I’m excited, nervous and anxious to see where I’ll end up. Fingers crossed!