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“That’s the white girl in you” (and the potential consequences of chemical relaxers)

I recently stayed at a local hotel for some “staycation” time and relaxation. On a trip to the women’s room off of the public patio, I ran into a contact of my sister’s: a fellow sister and local.

“You look so familiar,” she said. I returned the sentiment. From there, we discussed how the Black population in our predominantly-white city has been growing. We also talked about our curls, hair products, and my transitioning my hair to its natural state.

As I’ve recently stopped using relaxers (after over 20 years), I was thirsty for her advice. I knew this was my opportunity to ask questions, to help resolve some of my ethnic naïveté (Black hair care still isn't easy to find here…yet?). She graciously obliged my inquiries.

Why did I decide to stop relaxing my crown?

Why did I decide to stop relaxing my crown?

Multiple reasons.

For one, it’s expensive. You not only have to purchase the product (which I’ve had to bring to my hair appointments), but you also have to pay for hours of a hair expert’s time.

Also, it’s hard to find relaxers that aren’t phased out of the market, like Redken’s Shape Control (see my previous post about my hair care for more information on that).

One of the biggest reasons, however, is new studies of (and an ongoing lawsuit related to) the risks of using chemical relaxers. According to many sources, including drugwatch, chemical relaxers have been linked “to an increased risk of certain hormone-related cancers, including uterine and breast cancers[,]” hair loss, and even alopecia (an autoimmune disease where one’s body attacks hair follicles).

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I’m not going to lie: transitioning to natural hair has been a learning curve.

So what have I done? Turned to the internet and social media, of course!

I can’t tell you how many sites, TikToks, Facebook Reels, and Instagram accounts I’ve reviewed to figure out the right products and techniques to 1) identify my natural hair type (which can change as one gets older and with hormonal changes), 2) gently detangle my mix of natural and treated hair to avoid breakage, and 3) hopefully, establish a new hair care routine that doesn’t break the bank or my combs.

“I recently saw,” I told my new sister friend, “that most people section their hair into four sections for conditioning and detangling.”

She nodded, affirming my “research.”

“I’ve always just started at the ends and worked my way to my head,” I explained.

“Yeah,” she replied, “that’s the white girl in you.”

We both laughed.

Long story short? I still have a lot to learn about taking care of my newly-natural locks, but I’m getting more and more helpful information every day. I’m so grateful for that restroom run-in that provided me with first-hand experience and knowledge. It’s going to be a journey, but I’m taking it one step at a time. And I’m hopeful that my new crown will help me continue to embrace the queen I am!

To find out more about the significant side effects of chemical relaxers, please visit the drugwatch’s site.

As always, thanks for listening (and be well)!

Using a Touch Phone

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