I grew up with natural hair and to this day I remain unrelaxed. It wasn’t exactally a choice either, it was more out of fear of going bald, because that is what people said would happen to me if I got a relaxer. These people were not professionals and had no real reason to believe that my particular hair would fall out but because of them I never got a relaxer. I wanted to be “cool” though. Girls my age were now going to the salons on the weekends with their moms and I did not feel like my press and curls were up to par. I wanted to have the ultimate cool girl hairstyle- a duby. My mom would not let me go to a salon and the lady who did my press-and-curl tried her best to give me the elements of a duby, but my hair would not catch the breeze. My hair was too pressed, and curled too tight, and there was no “flow” to it. I got frustrated and ventured off into a new world alone, the world of flat irons, curling irons, and doom.
Granted, as a girl in her early-teens could I really be trusted with the care of my own hair? NO! because soon the flat iron became my best friend and… Burn, baby BURN! My hair became totally fried. Yes, it was straight, exactly what I wanted, but my ends were breaking off and it seemed like it was getting shorter. It would be years later when I would learn what it mean to retain length or how to accomplish it. But I didn’t care then. We didn’t have a heat protectant in our collection of hair supplies. I didn’t even know what that was, much less how or why it should be used. As far as I knew grease and oils were bad and that was the end of the story. Natural hair wasn’t a lifestyle, it just happened to grow out of my head that way. Right?
Wrong. The whole game changed when the boy I liked told me that he had been avoiding me because my hair smelled burnt.😳 OMG! I thought I would die. I washed my hair as soon as I got home from school and “cleaned” my flat iron. I took extra “care” not to burn my hair- wash, condition, moisturizing hair lotion, blow dry, and I even turned my flat iron down to straighten it. The next day I looked like a huge Frizzball, but I had hope though. Hope that everything was better, that my hair didn’t smell burnt anymore and, of course, hope that he would like me back. But when I looked at him with some much hope he looked back at me with the saddest eyes. Shoot! Still burnt and disgusting! I was so embarrassed. Dread covered me and I wanted to disappear completely.
It became a fear for me, constantly smelling my hair like the weird girl in an unwritten Lifetime movie. Eventually, it got better but that flat iron had to go! I got a new one that I felt I could trust and thankfully life went on. Getting it “right” didn’t happen right away though, and I am still learning so much.
Lessons to be learned from Heat Fail:
- “Natural” does not always mean you know how to care for your hair
- “Cool” or “trendy” hair does not aways equate to healthy hair (even if it is a natural style)
- Low heat styling is healthier for hair
- Use a heat protectant
- Deep conditioning is important and can help with damage hair
- Natural oils are awesome! Some benefits for hair grease has been appreciated by others as well
- Hair shouldn’t have an odor, burnt or otherwise
- Old or damaged styling tools can cause damage to hair. Be prepared to replace dated styling tools as needed
- Frizz is Be-You-TiFULL! Embrace and love your voluminous hair. Some people would gladly trade you
- Do not be embarrassed for what you do not know. Do your research to get accurate information on how to care for your hair. It is very much a process of trial and error.