Monday, July 9

My "dirty little secret": Why I may be forced to go au naturale

Forewarning: this post is super long!!!

My last relaxer was in early May... it was NOT what you would call a "textbook" relaxer application. I had quite a bit of burning like hell and had to rinse early. I've mentioned, in passing, my extreme scalp issues that I've been dealing with for the past year more or less. However, I never really went into depth about why I think these issues have plagued me.

I have been using lye based relaxers for my entire hair journey. I started using Silk Elements relaxer and then moved to Mizani. I noticed, around this time last year, that I was having extreme itching and flaking issues on my scalp! I have had to postpone relaxers because of it as well as have many-a sore scalp problems due to the scratching. For my entire life, I have NEVER had issues like this (however, full disclosure: my mother has extreme seborrheic dermatitis for which she has to use certain, prescribed shampoos and she has to be careful of what she uses on her hair/scalp... it's so bad that sometimes she gets dry, inflamed patches in her eyebrows!). There can only be two explanations, maybe it's genetic or maybe the harsh chemicals from the relaxers that I'm using are causing my scalp distress. Likely, it's a combination of the two since I've had a sensitive scalp my whole life.

Either way it goes, I have been sweeping this issue under the rug for long enough. Cliche or not, healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp: PERIOD. Who cares if Shika had long beautiful hair if she screwed up her scalp and abused it for so many years that the hair just stopped growing?

The one fact that I am trying to wrap my head around is that in order to maintain the health of my hair and the integrity of my scalp I may have to end up quitting relaxing and go natural. As you all know, while I love natural hair and stan for some natural heads in the forum/blogosphere, going natural was never something that I planned for my own head. Again, there is nothing wrong with going natural, but because of the way I prefer to wear my hair, relaxing seems to be my best option. Because of that, going au naturale will be my last resort. However, there are a few last ditch attempts to relaxing that I'm ready to take (and feel free to suggest anything that I'm missing)
  1. Phytorelaxers: I've done a bit of research and am ready to try Phytorelaxers. Many women with sensitive scalps were able to see success with this brand. The only pitfall is that they're expensive as hayylle!! However, they offer a good alternative for regular, no-lye relaxers.
  2. Regular, no-lye relaxers: for me and my hair, I'm not a fan of no lye relaxers. I'm not a fan of the build-up and the drying effect they have on some women's hair (including mine, pre-HHJ). However, they are typically easier on the scalp that Lye relaxers... because of that, they may be a good option should I choose to keep relaxing my hair.
  3. Heat-training: I'm not apologetic of the fact that I prefer to wear my hair straight/stretched out. My natural texture is 4B. Women with that texture tend to have difficulty retaining length (due to the hair tangling and knotting on itself because it's soooo curly). Transitioning to heat-training offers the best of both worlds... it makes it easier to straighten out the hair while eliminating stress to the scalp.
While it is hard to be 100% open about this (I can anticipate the "self hate", "you NEEED to just go natural", "OMG you're addicted to the creamy crack" arguments) I want this blog to be a way for my to chronicle every part of this journey, good and bad, for myself as well as other women who experience similar issues. While I am willing to take suggestions (even ones that I don't necessarily want [but need] to hear) I only ask that the dialogue remain respectful.

♥,

Questions? Additional comments? Email me at shika@hairiamworld.com

17 comments:

  1. I am a 4B and I have always been "tender-headed". I had very long thick hair and it was smoke in the city everytime I had to get my hair heat pressed. I got my first relaxer when I was 13, cut it all off and got a curly perm when I was 15, cut it off and went natural when I was 17. That was 23 years ago. In college I went from relaxed to natural several times before doing the big chop and staying natural for years. When I ventured into the relaxed world again it was completely damaging to my scalp. It was horrible even though I didn't have any skin conditions (other than chemical irritation). Big chopped again in 2003 and remained natural up until this year. I erroneously thought that since my hair and scalp were ultra healthy I could handle a relaxer. What was I thinking??? My hair is asthetically nice, but I am not completely happy because I know how wonderful my hair is when its natural -- even when its heat treated. I am not one of those sistas who feels as if everyone should be natural, but I guarantee that you will enjoy this journey. I've decided to make the transition again ... once and for all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your response! For me, I guess it's very much a fear of the unknown. But it seems that for you, even with the back and forth, that being natural is right for you. Thabk so so much for sharing that with me.

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    2. Wow, natural since 2003, relaxed one time, and now will transition again! You are a brave sister. I know ppl say "It's just hair, it will grow back" but I guess for me, since I have never had long hair, I want every inch I can get lol!

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  2. you can give the first two options a try; if they fail, then you can start your transition. Am also contemplating on the third option as i also love straight hair.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your feedback! That is pretty much the plan!

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  3. I also have horrible scalp issues, I suffer from moderate seborrheic dermatitis and some scalp tenderness as well. When I first started relaxing my hair at 13, my hair dresser used lye relaxers and I had horrific reactions to them. After a few years, I stopped going to her, I switched to no-lye relaxers and my scalp has been faring better, but i still had issues with flaking, itching and inflammation. This was most of the reason why I started a hair journey, the condition of my scalp really worried me. My scalp is mostly calm now, and the only tenderness I have is associated from me wearing buns too often. It took some time for my scalp to get here, but what I realized my major triggers are sulfates and when I allow silicone to build up on my scalp. For me, the major source of my scalp's poor condition was my daily/weekly pre-hair journey products. I would say explore all of the options out there and just make the choice that you think is best for you. HHJ and I hope your scalp improves soon :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for responding! Yes, I am fully aware that the Lye relaxers have got to go! Hopefully I can find an alternative that works like I want it to...

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  4. First let me say that about 5 years ago I found a great stylist and started going to her. She used Mizani. My hair started itching and I had big old white flakes. I've never had issues with dandruff ever. I went to her every 2 weeks and got relaxed every 4. I now know that it was the Mizani relaxer. It eventually went away. FF and I'm relaxed again after going natural twice. This last time I was natural for 17 months. Heat isn't good for my hair so I wore my hair in mini twists all the time. I lost patience and relaxed. I thought about heat training but I know my hair does best with no heat. Now I use D&L for color treated hair because I don't burn. I'm paranoid about burning. I know lye will do my hair better, but dude, the thought of burning scares the bejeebies out of me!
    Anyway, do whatever your scalp demands and you'll be happy!

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    Replies
    1. I can totally relate to your dilemma... I love the way my hair comes out with the lyr but the trauma to my scalp is just too much :(

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  5. I say try phyto, my sister has skin issues and a super sensitive scalp and this is the only relaxer that gave her the results she wanted without tearing her scalp up!

    Only downside is I believe that phyto relaxers are some of the most expensive on the market, they are sold at Sephora I think.

    But my sister hated every other relaxer and said it's worth the investment, plus she stretches for long periods anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ALX!!! :)

      Yeah, from my research, Phyto seems to be a good option. I'm not really TOO turned off by the price because I relax only 4-6 times a year... my next relaxer will be with Phyto.

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  6. I'm sorry you're experiencing scalp issues at all! If you decide to continue relaxing, no lye formulas may be a better bet for you (like other ladies have stated). If you decide to go natural, you could also consider BKTs. They're like relaxers but, after 3 months, wash out. You'd have versatility to wear your hair straight or curly without incurring potential damage from heat training. I'm sure whatever you decide to do, your hair will thrive because you're really focused on your HJ. I'll be rooting for you either way!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I never considered BKTs but that's definitely something that I would/will try should I decide to go natural. I'm not doubtful that my hair will thrive either way, just a little disappointed that things don't seem to be going as planned with my HHJ right now.

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  7. I completely feel you on this. It was only after I was diagnosed with eczema that I knew why I saw giant flakes that after EVERY relaxer (Mizani, Paul Mitchel, it didn't matter). As soon as my stylist started taking down the rollers, it would snow! The itchy, tender scalp, the wrap that would stick to my head the next day, the inevitable shedding a few days later, ugh, the memories! What I thought was a normal part of the relaxer process was actually the lye triggering eczema flare-ups in my scalp.
    What helped me and may help you:
    1. No-lye relaxers: I use the Silk Elements Olive Oil box relaxer every 12-16 weeks. I have been using it for 2 and 1/2 years now with no burning, no flakes, no scabs, no shedding, just happy scalp and relaxed hair.
    2. I use a swimmers shampoo the first 2 times I shampoo my hair after I relax. It removes the calcium and magnesium deposits that my no-lye relaxer leaves on my hair. This way my hair does not have to pay for my healthy scalp. I like the Nexxus Aloe Rid as well as the Ion Swimmer's Shampoo from Sally's.
    3. I oil my scalp with a sulfer mix at least 2 times a week. I started doing this as part of a growth regimen, and quickly found that my scalp stayed soothed and itch free. After a bit of research, I found that sulfur is known to help with inflammatory skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, etc) and is a common ingredient in may skin creams for those conditions. I think this is why my growth mix works; it keeps my scalp healthy so my hair can grow! I have not had an eczema outbreak in over 2 years.
    Just my 2 cents. Hope this helps!

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    Replies
    1. I've heard the success of several other ladies with dandruff/scalp issues when using a sulfur mix... I may try that since I am planning on wigging/weaving/braiding it up for the majority of the rest of the year...

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  8. Hi Shika! So sorry to hear that you are having scalp problems. I still go to the hair dresser to get my hair relaxed and my stylist only uses Phyto products. Although I don't particularly have a sensitive scalp, I have been getting PhytoSpecific relaxers for about 1 year now (I was relaxed my entire life, went natural for 2 years, and went back to relaxing last year) and I've never burned, or had a bad experience with the relaxer. I've had great results with the relaxer and I love Phyto products overall! Hope this helps and good luck with your scalp - I'm sure you'll find a good solution soon. HHJ

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  9. Hey Shika!!! I am just commenting to let you know that I read your post and I am on your side one hundred percent!!!!
    I guess hair journey's are like life journey's that can take you down unexpected roads, you just make due with what you are given!!!

    I don't have much advice bc I have no personal experience in this area but I am reading and rooting for you love!!!

    ReplyDelete

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The products that I use are bought with my own money unless other wise stated and are for personal use. I am not paid to show any products on this blog! Results are on MY hair, but that does not guarantee that products/methods/techniques will work the same for you (though I HOPE they do!!) Happy Hair Growing!!

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