Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Natural vs. Relaxed: How We're the Same

I’ve been thinking a lot about relaxed hair lately. 

No, I’m not reverting.  I just realized that amongst all the debate about natural vs. relaxed – what’s good hair and what’s not, what’s easier to take care of, what’s more socially acceptable – there are a lot of similarities we share.  I discovered this while trying to help my (relaxed) sister take better care of her hair.  She started asking questions about why her hair isn’t growing, what products work best, how to keep her hair straight in between relaxers, etc.  And then I was like LIGHTBULB!

A lot of naturals have been relaxed before.  My natural journey actually began with me trying to improve the health of my relaxed hair. My first lessons were about the importance of moisture, protein and protective styling – all taught by YoutTube Guru Ateeya. 

So here are some practices that natural and relaxed girls share in the never ending quest for long, healthy hair.

Cleansing – A clean scalp paves the way for growth.  It clears product buildup and debris (i.e. dust, dirt, dandruff, etc.) so that new hair has a better chance to grow.  And while an actual shampoo every now and then certainly does the job, co-washing works wonders for both the natural and relaxed. 

Conditioning/Deep Conditioning --  When I was relaxed, I never really believed in conditioners like I do now.  I know it helped turn my relaxed hair around and depend on them now to feed my natural hair.  I also began regularly deep conditioning, which honestly revived my hair no matter what I had done to it. 

Protein(ing?) – Now even though I learned a lot about protein from Ateeya, I realized I sort of already knew its benefits.  Years ago, I worked at a job that stressed me to the point of affecting my health.  I began losing my hair…actually balding.  My mom took notice and recommended I get a beautician to look at it.  She suggested I cut it all off and start fresh.   In the coming months, I learned that protein treatments were going to help rebuild my hair and it did.  I grew back my former length in less than six months after having all but an inch or two of my hair cut off.  Protein rebuilds.

Moisturizing – Healthy hair craves moisture.  It brings it to life in my opinion.  And although products may differ, moisturizing your natural or relaxed hair is important. 

Oiling – African-American hair is typically dry, so oiling is another important step in moisturizing.  It also adds sheen.

Protective Styling – This is the main one.  As much as I try to fight it, I know protective styling is the truth if you want healthy long hair.  

Think back to the days of old when you were relaxed.  What practices do you still follow?

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