Check out the newest installment in CurlyNikki's reader Q&A series:
READER QUESTION: On many of the blogs and forums, I see talk of being careful with your curls because they are so fragile. It makes me feel like it's dainty fine china and I'm almost afraid to touch it. I thought that my hair would be stronger and more resilient than when I had a relaxer. Am I wrong for thinking this?
CURLYNIKKI'S RESPONSE: Our hair, in its natural, highly textured state, is delicate. Each bend along the strand creates a point of potential breakage. To be honest, I felt like it was easier to retain length when I was getting my hair pressed bi-weekly or monthly. The heat was killing it in the long run, which is why I now opt for sets. My fine strands fair better when the curl is stretched a bit. I do, however, feel that my hair is more resilient post heat abuse, as do many naturals who left the relaxers behind. The heat and relaxers are no longer breaking down our strands and we have a little wiggle room to enjoy a variety of styling options and the opportunity to experiment with products and even color.
I think the focus on treating our hair like 'delicate lace' comes from our re-education. After some thought, we decide to transition from relaxed to natural hair, as a healthier alternative. We get on the web and research, and take care to purchase the right tools, the right products, and explore our styling options. We develop goals for full, healthy, natural hair and do our best to achieve it. We join communities with other transitioners and naturals, and meet up in real life to share tips and provide encouragement. I believe that all of the time and energy we put into our 'new hair' makes us more likely to treat it better overall. We're much more mindful than when we frequented the salon and let Donna wash and set our hair. So yeah, I think it's a residual effect, 'cause all highly textured hair (whether it's relaxed, heat styled, or in it's curly state) is delicate, and should be treated as such.
Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural haircare, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.