The Not So Wonder Years: A Bit of Hair History
enero 31, 2010
“You have to know the past to understand the present.”
–Dr. Carl Sagan
Before I begin talking about daily routines (which to be honest I’m still experimenting with), go to products, favorite hair styles so on and so forth, I’ve decided to back track and talk about my past first. I’ll tell you the things that worked, the things that didn’t and what I’ve learned since then.
For starters, I feel like I’m one of the few and in my opinion fortunate people who did not grow up in a hair salon. To this day I’ve only been in one once and it was not exactly the most glorifying experience. My hair can best described as thick, long, with multiple curl textures and even patterns. If you are familiar with the curl classification system I am mostly 3C with some 4A and a tad bit of 3B mixed in. The back of my hair is much finer and looser than the middle and front of my hair. I used to be afraid that one day all my “easy” hair (as I used to call it) would fall out and I’d be left with unmanageble, tangly, “mean” hair. My hair texture has changed over the years but I still have those 3 different sections of hair types.
My earliest memories of hair trials and tribulations begin when I was knee high to a grasshopper. My mother would sit me in my little yellow chair and sometimes I was allowed to read a book while she detangled, brushed and plaited my hair. This process often took hours and I was no fan of it. I’m as tender headed as they come and late at night my mother showed no mercy as she rangled up my curls like wild running horses. Even now I still remember the oily smell of TCB hair and scalp conditioner (chock full of mineral oils and petroleum that I later learned are damaging to the hair), the brisk drops of water that used to fall from the spray bottle onto the nape of my neck, the sound of the comb tugging on my curls, the smart on my shoulder when I began to fuss and shift (nothing stings like the back of a comb on bare skin! but mama didn’t take no stuff).
I always wore my hair in braids. Eventually progressed to twists. Sometimes my mother would put my hair in a bun or experiment with different sized braids/twists/knots. She never knew how to cornrow my hair but my cousin did it for me twice. My mother was amazed that I didn’t cry out even once–but I remember how hard I bit my lip not to cry as my hair was being pulled tight like rope (I also remember girls in class itching their scalp like crazy because they had tight cornrows in…I’ve never been interested in that hair style since). Looking back my mother must have been on to something. Even though she brushed my hair with a boar brush (no), used mineral oils (no no), and shampooed it with sulfates (no no no!) she knew to always wet my hair before trying to brush or comb it, used protective styling, used wide toothed combs to detangle my hair, gave me a semi-regular trim, never allowed heat near my hair and absolutely under no circumstances was I ever allowed to have my hair permed or relaxed!
TRUST my aunts and female cousins on my father’s side all tried, begged, beseeched and almost paid my mother to have HER hair permed as well as mine. She broke down and got a relaxer once (before I was born) but she vowed to never let them touch my hair with harsh chemicals. I am so thankful to her to this day! As I grew older I grew tired of always wearing my hair in braids and was envious of the long, silky, flowing hair of my peers. I also fell under the pressure of my friends to have my hair permed since they always so nicely reminded me that my hair looked “messy” and I really needed one. A few times I begged my mom to let me at least straighten my hair with a flat iron but she always said no. Only once did I have my hair straigtened with an iron and that was for high school senior prom.
I thought I would fall in love with the glamorous “new me”. Really, I just realized that straight hair made my forehead look bigger (whomp whomp). I actually…missed my curls (!) and felt alien without them. But it didn’t take long. That very night it rained and since I had never had to worry about my hair drinking water before, I was surprised when my date turned and told me my hair had gone back to its natural state. All that money down the drain! (Thank goodness I could call in the calvary and two of my friends curled my hair for graduation a few days later). After that experience I decided straightening my hair was overrated and not worth it.
I honestly can’t imagine how some girls do it on the regular. I’m not trying to judge anyone here–if that’s your boat, go head and float. I just know that my hair would die quickly if I started applying heat to it all the time. It already can’t get enough moisture. Sorry..went on a tangent there. So like I was saying…I grew to appreciate my curls little by little, even if I did hold silent envy towards people with fine or wavy hair. My curl pride reached an all new high in college. My hair was a novelty…I think I was the only girl on campus with natural hair (which wasn’t an alien concept for me, high school was pretty much the same, but my high school was predominately African American and instead of people being impressed with my hair, I was often teased).
The few times when I was “brave” enough to wear my hair completely out, I was told that it was “cool” and unique. People loved playing with my ringlets and coils. I started to wear my hair out more often and found the more I wet it, the easier it was to maintain. I sort of did my own version of a wash and go for awhile..except I wasn’t using conditioners to moisturize my hair properly. I cut that out after my mom told me I was drying my hair out too much. She was right, but for the wrong reasons. Hair loves water, but you have to back it up with other moisturizers to keep your curls fully content.
A year or so ago I realized that my hair was starting to feel extra dry when I shampooed it. So I decided to use conditioner only. At first I felt “dirty” about it..like I wasn’t actually cleaning my hair. Now I understand that I was just cowashing without realizing there was a whole philosophy behind it. Of course, not knowing all I know now, my problem with build up was often due to the fact that I was still using products with silicone in them. Conditioners alone cannot wash them out.
**Rewind and pause** Lest I forget, I did have a major hair speed bump when I had it dyed and bleached (eek!) for the first time my sophomore year of college. My curls took a definite hit and I worried they would never be the same. They became limp and my texture was stringy. I didn’t know how to fix my curls or even how to properly care for color treated hair (no wonder the color washed out so quickly! by the way, it was bright hot pink ;)). It did recover on its own but I was fool enough to color it again (now 3 years later). This time with Garnier Deep Burgundy Brown. The results weren’t bright enough so after only 4 weeks I dyed it again, with a different hair dye. This was a lot for my hair. I did buy a special conditioner (and shampoo) for my hair at the time and a sulfate free leave-in (which unfortunately has silicone). But my hair felt like straw for a few days.
This is my present day situation. It’s been about 6 weeks since I dyed it and I don’t plan on dying it again any time soon (maybe ever..it’s too complicated and never gives me the results I want). My hair texture is better but I still fear that I’ve damaged it from double exposure to harsh chemicals in such a short time period. Really I was just impatient and wanted red hair NOW! (of course my hair color of choice would be the hardest to apply and maintain) I’ve cut out cones (silicone) and sulfates from my hair diet. Also I’m getting back into all natural products (though I recently just used gel and I’ll be writing a review about that soon). I’ve buried my boar brush, bought a new set of combs (I already had good detangling combs but now I also have a denman-esque brush), bagged all my “no no” products to be shipped for trash, and taken to a co-wash/moisturize routine. I’ve been sleeping with a satin scarf for years now so that’s just stayed a part of my routine.
I haven’t worked out all the kinks yet (no pun intended) but I have a revised hair philosophy, a new hair attitude and in coming days I hope to have a good regimen down as well as products I know I can stand by.
Phew! This was long. Thanks for reading my hair history. Care to share a bit of yours?
Note: If you are confused about any lingo here don’t fret I’ll be making a post soon to clarify all that curl vocab. Right now I’ve spent too much time on the internet and need to go live like a normal human being. Peace out!