Recently, I was at a friend’s house with a bunch of my girlfriends. We were chatting it up and having a good time. The conversation was relatively normal, until one of our friends who has been natural for over four years walked through the door with unbelievably silky straight hair.
It was a sight that I'd never seen on this chocolate beauty. All of our friends swooned and demanded the name of the stylist who was able to straighten her hair with just a flatiron! She smiled bashfully and said “Oh, no flatiron…I got a relaxer."
After a ripple effect of dropped jaws and collective side-eye action, a single voice emerged with a simple “quit playing, you wouldn’t go and damage your hair like that!"
I sat back and listened to the commentary that followed and thought to myself, "man it must be tough to be a relaxed girl in 2017." Undoubtedly, the natural hair movement has revolutionized the hair care industry and positively shifted the narrative on how women view their coils, but who says that you can’t get professional relaxers and have healthy hair?
I spoke to 2 women, Attorney and Professor, Piper C. Mitchell, Esq. and Master Hairstylist/Colorist, Bianca Bowman and asked them about their experiences being a relaxed girl in what is seemingly a naturally curly world!
For starters, both women have been on the receiving end of side eye and shade. Bianca expressed, “Being that I work in a 'natural hair' salon, clients side eye [her] a lot."
She futher explained that ,“hair for me is an expression and at any given moment I will color, cut or relax my hair to express myself.”
When I asked if she ever feels like she has to explain why she gets relaxers to other people, Piper shared, “all the time," adding that “relaxers are frowned upon by a lot of people, but just like relaxers may not be for everybody, going natural isn’t for everybody either."
Piper went natural in 2010 for 10 months and ultimately came to a breaking point when she broke not one, not two, but three combs in an attempt comb her hair on a wash day.
I was happy to hear both Piper and Bianca share that they are still dedicated to the health of their hair and are intentional with the styling and selection of products for their relaxed strands!
Whether you're a veteran or recently relaxed gal, here are some helpful hair care suggestions that will support your journey!
Wash & Condition Regularly: Consistency and moisture is the name of the game for our queens with relaxers. Relaxers are very drying for the hair, so a good shampoo/ conditioner will help infuse moisture in to strands.
Aphogee Deep Moisture Shampoo
Available at Amazon | $8
Dark and Lovely Moisture Shampoo
Available at Walmart | $10
Bi-Weekly Deep Conditioning: Your hair will need all the loving from a deep conditioner it can get, so incorporate one into your washing schedule. Be sure to alternate between protein and moisture-based ones.
Try: Organic Root Stimulator Hair Mayonnaise Treatment (Protein Based) or Shea Moisture’s Raw Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque (Moisture based)
Organic Root Stimulator Hair Mayonnaise
Available at Sally Beauty | $11
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque
Available at Target | $9
Products for Styling: If you are looking to straighten your hair after a wash, be sure to use a heat protectant before grabbing the flat iron!
Art Naturals Thermal Hair Protector
Available at Amazon | $12
CHI Silk Infusion Recovery Complex
Available at Target | $25
Alternatively, you can also slick your hair back with a good (moisturizing) styling aid?
Carol's Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey Shine Pomade
Available at Sally Beauty | $13
Protect Your Hair at Night: Protect your hair at night with a satin bonnet to prevent excessive dryness of your strands.
My last styling tip is simple but powerful: consistency. With relaxers, consistency is very paramount. Listen to the timeline your stylist gives you! If they say every 8 weeks, be there every 8 weeks to maintain healthy relaxed hair! Sometimes, waiting too long in between relaxers causes your hair to break/snap off at the line of demarcation, causing excessive breakage.
Bukky is a hairstylist in New York City and runs a non-profit organization. Follow her at @bukks or @haironpurpose.