There are many decisions which you can make in life; these include what you are going to say, what you are going to do, and where you are going to go. One choice that people of African heritage can also make is whether or not to use hair relaxer.
What is a hair relaxer?
A hair relaxer is a cream which is used to permanently straighten very curly hair. It works by breaking down and altering the texture of hair strands. New hair growth means that relaxed hair requires retouching every few months.
The natural hair movement
The natural hair movement, which originates from America, is a movement which encourages people with afro-textured hair not to relax their hair. It is a growing trend with more and more people choosing to wear their hair natural – an article in Quartz Africa reported that relaxer sales declined by 18.6% between 2013 and 2015 in South Africa, so less people are using relaxer.
There are two ways to revert to natural hair from relaxed hair: by transitioning or doing ‘the big chop’. Transitioning involves growing out your natural hair before cutting off the relaxed ends. The big chop involves cutting off all of your relaxed hair straight away, so that you are left with a short afro.
Making a change
Going from relaxed hair to natural hair can be difficult. If you decide to do the big chop, you might be shocked that your hair is much shorter. If you choose transitioning, you might become impatient while you wait for your hair to grow. The process of transitioning also means that you will have to carefully protect the line where your relaxed hair meets your natural hair.
It is important to weigh up the advantages of natural hair with the advantages of using a relaxer before deciding to chemically straighten your hair, or to start wearing your hair natural.
Advantages of using a relaxer
Styling relaxed hair takes less time and can be more convenient than styling natural hair. Additionally, relaxed hair is straighter for longer and does not require as much heat if you want to wear your hair straight. It is easier to control frizz with relaxed hair.
Advantages of having natural hair
It is cheaper overall to wear your hair natural instead of relaxed. Natural hair is very versatile and can be manipulated in lots of different ways. It is also fuller and thicker than relaxed hair. You do not have to worry about rain or humidity when your hair is natural, and you get to see your unique curl pattern emerge. Having natural hair also means that you avoid using relaxing chemicals, which can damage and sting the scalp and weaken hair.
Whether you decide to relax your hair or wear it natural, it is important to love and accept your hair, since loving and accepting your hair can improve your confidence.