BY RACHELLE MULLINGS
In October, it will be one year anniversary since joining Byye. Along the way I have had many different hairstyles, based on different celebrities that have inspired me. I like to consider myself fairly fashion forward. I am always looking in magazines to see what is new and unique on fashion runways. Trying new things and changing my hairstyle constantly has almost become a lifestyle for me. From dying my hair red to shaving one side to short bobs to long hair, I have almost done it all, except dye my hair blonde. Maybe in the near future :).
A year and a half ago before starting at Byye, I decided to make a drastic change with my hair. Every month I would go to the hairdresser and get my hair chemically relaxed, which would straighten out my natural curls. This process seemed to grow my hair regardless, although some African American women would disagree with me. Since then I have decided to get educated on “ the science” of “ black” natural hair and really apply it to my lifestyle. This is a continuous journey and daily I am learning new things, but I am grateful that I started this journey when I did.
A Bit of History…
The struggle to convince my mom to chemically straighten my hair was a constant battle. Being a minority in my junior high school, I wanted to very much fit in. However, with my hair being hard to “tame,” I didn’t feel as though I was a part of any group, which made it hard to figure out who I was as a person.
Finally, in the ninth grade, my mom took me to my first hair appointment. Graduation was nearing and I wanted to look on point for my grad photos. Up until that point, I felt that my curls were out of control and cramping my style. After seeing my older sister, Paula, transform from being a normal teenager to ‘Beyonce’ within hours of having her first hair appointment, I became obsessed with wanting to change my hair too. I wanted to see that change happen before my eyes. What I wasn’t prepared for was the effects that it would have on my hair later in life.
Relaxers (Chemical Straightening)
A relaxer is defined as a type of lotion or cream generally used by people with tight curls or very curly hair which makes hair easier to straighten by chemically “relaxing” the natural curls. The active agent is usually a strong alkali, although some formulations are based on ammonium thioglycolate instead.
Most of you are probably asking yourself, “why would you ever want to do that to your hair?” But when you are desperate for straight hair, this solution is almost your last resort.
Why relaxers are not always recommended?
Relaxers are very strong chemicals that work by changing the basic structure of the hair shaft. The chemical penetrates the cortex and loosens the natural curl pattern. This inner layer of the hair shaft is not only what gives curly hair its shape but also provides strength and elasticity. Once this process is performed it is irreversible.
This process which produces the desired effect of “straighter” hair also leaves hair weak and extremely susceptible to breaking and further damage. One must keep in mind that relaxers do not help the hair, but actually strip it. So by applying chemicals to the hair, even if it is to achieve a desired effect, it is never really to the benefit of your hair. When looked after properly relaxed hair can thrive. When not looked after, it usually becomes dry, brittle, and breaks.
From simply conducting some research online about hair, I decided to start my natural hair journey. I remember reading different articles and discovering that your hair is at its strongest in its natural state.
Seventeen months ago, I started my transition with two major chops, which took off all of my relaxed ends. To date, this was the hardest thing I’ve had to do regarding my hair. After growing my hair out for so long only to have it chopped off was devastating! However, with the help of my family and friends, I learned to put my fashionista abilities to the test with different protective hairstyles.
Protective hairstyles are usually heat-free hairstyles concealed at the ends. By default, a protective style will encourage hair growth and length retention. With the advice of different friends and family, I decided to try out some new looks.
Looking back now I am so happy that I decided to make that change in my life, I am happy with the way my hair looks and I am embracing my natural roots!
My current look – “The Classic Bob”
Check back to see my updates on my hair journey…