Very inspiring article on Natural Hair, by my daughter for the college newspaper. Just thought I would share with the blog word.
November 19, 2013
Late celebrity make-up artist Ross Burton once said, “If you aren’t confident, it doesn’t matter what reflection you see in the mirror.”
Two years ago, I gave up chemical processing and the silky smooth, straight hair that accompanies it. I did what many would call “going natural,” and although my natural hair may be a bit frustrating at times, I love my kinks and curls because they are a part of who I am.
Natural hair is defined as hair that hasn’t been altered by chemical straighteners, including but not limited to, relaxers and texturizers. Natural hair, in my opinion, is the best thing ever. If I could go back in time, I would choose to go natural all over again.
Wearing your hair naturally is healthy for you in more ways than one. The hair relaxing process involves using chemicals that break down your hair to make each strand straight. This breakdown can weaken your hair, causing it to become brittle and even fall out. Natural hair, in comparison to relaxed or texturized hair, is stronger, more durable and nutrient rich. In addition, it sheds less and grows faster.
Another benefit of natural hair is its affordability. You don’t have to make bi-monthly trips to the salon anymore. Instead, all you need for natural hair maintenance is your shampoo and conditioner. Many other natural hair care remedies can be made with your everyday household items, such as eggs, honey, sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil, beer, cornstarch, avocado and even baking soda. Not only is natural hair healthier, but it allows for more hairstyles, as the strands are stronger and able to hold and maintain styles longer than chemically weakened and relaxed hair.
I made my decision to give up chemical processing two years ago, after watching the documentary “Good Hair” by African-American comedian Chris Rock. Rock visited hair salons, barber shop and laboratories to get the lowdown on weaves, natural hair and the chemical processes that many people put their hair through. At one point, he demonstrated the effects of hair relaxers using a soda can and a piece of raw chicken; when treated with a relaxer, the soda can deteriorated and a hole burned right through the chicken. I thought to myself, if a relaxer isn’t safe enough for a metal soda can or a piece of meat, then it is coming nowhere near my hair.
Nowadays, I think many girls treat their hair because natural hair is looked down upon. At first glance, a natural hairdo might look like an unkempt bird’s nest. It requires a plethora of maintenance, patience and plenty of moisture. But relaxed, straight hair is widely accepted because it looks neater and more presentable, as opposed to having wild, natural hair in your face. Relaxed hair also lets you do as you please. You don’t have to wear protective styles to preserve the delicate ends of your hair or retain its length, and you can also take it easy; you don’t have to fuss and fight with your hair to prevent frizz. Relaxers and texturizers are just the easy way out.
However, relaxed hair isn’t a walk in the park. There are two kinds of relaxer, lye and no-lye relaxers. The active ingredient in lye relaxer is sodium hydroxide, a chemical that’s also found in drain cleaners. Lye relaxers can cause scalp irritation, skin burns, permanent scarring, deep ulcerations, skin drying, irreversible baldness and even eye damage if you aren’t careful with the application.
The active ingredients in no-lye relaxers are calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate. Though these aren’t as potent as sodium hydroxide, they are just as dangerous if you aren’t carefully applied.
Lye or no-lye, any relaxer can burn your hair. Relaxed hair is subject to thinning, breakage, stunted growth, severe split ends and scalp damage.
In this day and age, it’s often difficult to fit in with natural hair, because society and the mainstream media pressure girls into conforming to the more accepted image of beauty. But natural hair seems to be on the rise, helping many girls learn to build self-confidence. Being natural gives you a better sense of self. No two curl patterns are alike, which makes girls realize how unique they truly are. There’s something about the uniqueness of natural hair that just makes you feel confident in who you are. Maybe it’s the fact that you’re embracing yourself entirely that makes you feel so fierce.
Many African-Americans have tightly curled hair, while many Hispanics and Caucasians have wavier locks. But at the end of the day, even if your hair is dyed, flat ironed, pressed or even curled, it’s still considered natural. There’s no need to take it to the next level by applying harmful chemicals to your head. The frustration of maintaining natural hair is definitely worth it when considering all the harmful side effects of relaxers. Rock your natural; it looks good on you.