As some of you may have witnessed, I have incredibly curly hair. When I say incredibly curly – I’m talking tight mini ringlet curls. My hair is about as close to afro hair as you can get, without actually having afro hair!
I spent my childhood running wild, ‘fro n all, as a frizzy-mopped and carefree child. As a teen I’d keep my hair in only one style for fear of my ‘fro unleashing itself in public – it would be kept up in a tight french twist…everyday…for years. I used to dream of thinner hair.
Then at around 13 / 14 (I call these my rock-chick years as my playlists mostly consisted of Nirvana, Metallica and Megadeth and my wardrobe reflected this) I discovered the wonders of 2 things: bleach and hairdye! What followed can only be described as a rainbow of frizzy chaos of epic proportions as I went from all red, to bright purple strips to bleached ‘head bands’. The picture above depicts my ‘essentials’ during this time. You’ll be relieved to hear that this phase of my….’style’….only lasted a couple of years (ok 3 years! don’t judge me!).
This is the part of this story where you’re expecting things to get better for my poor, now even frizzier from all the colouring, hair. This is just the beginning. Because at age 16 I discovered the unthinkable. The thing that is ruining hair and balding women across the globe. The thing that you only turn to when you’re desperate. With a massively thick ‘fro of curls on my head, it seemed like a dream come true…and I did it….I began relaxing my hair at home (roots, scalp, everything got covered!).
Here’s the thing no one tells you about at home relaxers….they’re ADDICTIVE! Ok….so I finally had slightly less curly and almost manageable hair….then a few months later, my roots would grow throw to remind me of what will happen if I don’t buy another box of relaxer and slap it all over my head, again and again and this went on for YEARS!
By the time I hit uni I wanted a drastic change. I thought to myself – what do all these women with curly and afro hair do to look ‘cool’. BRAIDS! I went and got my first lot of braids with extensions and I LOVED them! It was the ultimate solution for the life of a student who liked to party hearty. The more I got them done and watched the process, the more I became confident me and Dal could do it ourselves! So I’d buy batches of synthetic braiding hair and voila! We actually got pretty good at it! I’d like to add that the abuse of my hair at this point was not just restricted to the heavy braids constantly pulling – the relaxing still continued. Everytime I took my braids out, my hair would be brushed, relaxed, washed and the whole process would start over again.
Once I was over my braid phase (still at uni) and was kinda sick of being called a rasta, the braids came off and I did something i’d never done in my life before. I rocked my ‘fro like no ones ever rocked a ‘fro. It was big, it was awesome and it was extreme side-parted. It looked great!…but still….the relaxing continued.
After uni, I moved to Dubai. Nothing could have prepared me for what 100% humidity would do to my ‘awesome ‘fro’. I moved here in the middle of August and needless to say, my hair quickly formed itself into a poof of unimaginable frizz. So now what? No amount of products could help me.
Dal, who’d moved here a year before me, had tried something called re-bonding. Which she explained to me was basically like relaxer, but done in a salon the hair would be relaxed, straightened and left to ‘set’ for 3 days. She told me to try it. So I did. I couldn’t believe how straight and tame my hair was! It was actually almost too straight! I’d gone from massive hair, to flat, straight hair which took some getting used to. But at least I was presentable! when your hair is re-bonded well, when the roots grow even a tiny bit look ridiculous as the result is straight hair with poofy frizz at the top. So as you’ve probably gathered from my history with my hair, re-bonding was my new addiction and it continued for 5 years. Shortly after discovering re-bonding, and with thinner hair from all my treatments, I found the wonders of hair extensions. Glue-ins, clips-ins, weaves, you name it, I’ve had it. This coupled with the re-bonding and the years of abuse – my hair had finally had it with me.
My hair had become thinner and thinner from all the chemicals, colours, relaxers and braids throughout my life. To the point that it was visibly thinner and very brittle. I was now at 27 years old and the realisation hit me – if i don’t stop, I’ll have no hair by the time I’m 40.
I stopped everything.
Growing out re-bonded is not fun. But it needed to happen.
I’m now 30 and have ceased chemicals on my hair for the last 3 years. My hair is getting healthier, but it will never be as thick as it was. It doesn’t curl as it used to, which when i look back, were the tightest most beautifully defined curls.
Chris Rock made a movie a couple of years ago called ‘Good Hair’ which explores relaxers and hair extensions. There was a demonstration that showed relaxer being put on a supermarket chicken and within hours, it had eaten through the chicken to the table. Now it makes me sad to think about what I’d been doing to my poor hair and scalp.
I wish someone had grabbed me at 15, slapped me and shook me and said “STOP! You’re hair is awesome!” I would have all my thick beautiful hair and I’d be proudly rocking my ‘fro. Now I can’t really wear it curly as its so damaged and uneven – so it stays blow dried and I will continue you to condition it and nurture it until it resembles the texture of normal hair again.
Your hair is your hair, own it, style it, rock it. Don’t destroy it.