My answer to that question is YES! One of the most frequent criticisms I hear about Black women is that we wear too much fake hair. Let me tell you my (long) hair story. When I was a little girl my mother would put my hair in plaits and a lot of kids made fun of me and called me Medusa. Sometimes for special occasions she would use a hot comb. The hot comb was always terrifying but I liked the straight hair after. Since my hair was always in plaits or blow dried I did not know what my natural texture looked like. My hair would always be covered in Blue Magic or another grease.
It may have been fifth grade when my mother first relaxed my hair and I was made responsible for my hair care. My hair got shorter and shorter because of breakage. I used a curling iron on my bangs every day and I used drying gels and hairsprays. In eight grade my mother said my hair was breaking off and she had a hairdresser come to the house and give me a leisure curl (pretty much a Jheri curl). She didn't warn me beforehand that she was going to cut off all my relaxed hair! My hair was short and bushy, the closest to natural I had ever been. I had to spray my hair with greasy products every day. The kids at school made fun of me and treated me horribly. It was the worst year of my youth.
After two years of the leisure curl (and barely any hair growth) I went back to the relaxer. My mother also started getting braid-in hair weaves that I liked. She learned how to do them and gave me weaves for two years. Kids at school were so impressed by how much my hair grew over the summer! A couple of years later, I stopped wearing weaves, and started experimenting with hair colour in red and golden brown and my hair was constantly breaking and short. Then I saw an ad for clip in hair extensions that I quickly purchased and wore for for my last year of high school and two years of university.
During university I found a new hairdresser who gave me a "natural relaxer". I don't think it was natural, it was a sodium hydroxide relaxer. It made my hair swell and it actually grew down to my mid back. I never went back to no-lye relaxers. I continued with the relaxer into graduate school. That was when I started reading Black history. It changed me forever and changed the way I thought about being Black and the way I looked. I started seeing natural hair videos on YouTube and learned how to style and take care of natural hair. I stopped getting relaxers and transitioned for nine months by wearing a curly fro hairstyle.
One day I decided to just cut off the relaxed hair and end the process. I was shocked because my hair coiled up way shorter than I had expected! I had to experiment with products for three years and deal with having hair that I thought was too short to look good on me. Finally after three years my hair is the same length it was when I started transitioning (but it looks shoulder length due to shrinkage). I love my coily hair! It is full and actually has some shine. It moves when I talk and bounces when I walk. I get so many compliments on it, mostly from men! They love my hair! Some Black men like it but I get the most compliments from White men! When I had relaxed or weaved hair I never got any compliments! I will never relax or lighten my hair colour (and risk breakage) again!
My Current Hair Regimen: I use a modified Tightly Curly Technique
- Wash day once a week.
- Plait hair into seven braids. Wash with a non-sulfate shampoo while leaving braids in. Put in some Cholesterol hair conditioner and don't wash out. Exit shower.
- Unbraid and detangle each braid with a Tangle Teezer adding more Cholesterol if needed. Spray hair with mixture of water and vegetable glycerin to keep moist.
- Once detangled squeeze out the excess conditioner. Add Ecostyler gel and smooth small sections of hair with fingers.
- Braid hair again (to minimize shrinkage) and use a chamois to soak up the excess water and product that will come out of the braid.
- Repeat the process for all braids. Let hair air dry or sit under hooded dryer. It will take at least 24 hours to dry so I only do this on the weekend.
- Before going out unbraid the hair and gently separate the coils. DO NOT ADD ANY PRODUCT or else the hair will shrink up again. It might take 20 minutes to do this in the morning.
- At night add more cholesterol and gel if necessary and braid the hair again. If the hair is moisturized and tidy enough I just do a pineapple (pile hair on top of head and tie scarf around head).
TightlyCurly.com (where I got my regimen)