Friday, 2 March 2012

This Is What Happened Today…...

"Earlier today I made my last drop into my local (rubbish – due to lack of choice, despite being a fair size) BSS. Due to spending loads in February I will be on a self imposed product ban from now through to June (with the exception of restocking my staple products and braid hair for protective styles). "












I went in to pick up some moisturising styling gel as I don’t want to keep using my Bee Mine Bee Hold on this synthetic hair as it’s not cheap nor locally available, therefore I can think of better use for it than on these crochet braids. I also wanted to pick up some more iC 1 Minute Super Concentrated Reconstructor as I give up ever finding Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor where I live, besides I brought this iC reconstructor at the beginning of my hair journey and I have always been impressed by the results every time I have used it so figured why not just keep buying that for now.

Anyway…………onto the reason for this post!

Whilst perusing the aisles for a gel that didn’t make me feel ill due to the sickly artificial smell and one that I could stand getting a whiff of throughout the day whilst it’s in my hair, which was both moisturising without the addition of glycerine (it was not an easy task let me tell you!), I overheard a woman requesting help from a man who works in the store. The shop is black owned and all of the workers are black and I think this is a really good thing, even though I do find it to be more expensive than the other shops in my town.

The lady I overheard was enquiring about a RELAXER…. Now, my ears pricked up being the hair bore that I am, I was bound to be interested in the advice she was about to receive.

The lady said she needed to get a relaxer because her hair was breaking. My ears pricked up some more. I could see that she already had a jar of ORS lye relaxer in her hand which I think was a choice she had made independently. This relaxer does not come in a kit, nor does it come with clear step by step pictorial instructions. The conversation continued onto conditioners. I thought this was great. Full marks so far….., well kinda. At no point did they discuss why her hair was actually breaking and as it was hidden by a wig you couldn’t see what state it was in to start with. She picked up a small jar of some organics steam conditioner, which is something I have never used (nor seen) so I just kept watching and listening.

As they moved closer toward me and their conversation continued onto shampoo to wash out the relaxer as the woman mentioned that if she didn’t wash out the relaxer her hair would smell. “Gurrrl!” I thought “If you don’t shampoo out that relaxer real good you won’t have any hair left on your head to actually smell cos it will break your hair straight off your head and into your hand fo' sure and you’ll be wearing that wig for quite some time and smelly hair will be the least of your worries!!!”. I then stood back all beady eyed as they stood right next to me and the shop worker pointed her in the direction of Elasta QP. Now I am not an expert, but I am a true believer in if you relax with Elasta QP then you should neutralise with Elasta QP, if you relax with Affirm you should neutralise with Affirm,…..ORS, Motions…….etc etc. So at this point I was thinking, I should step in and say something. Then he handed her a bottle of Elasta QP Feels Like Silk!!!!  WTF!!!! That isn’t even a shampoo damit!! Do you want this woman to be a bal’hed so she has to come back to your store to buy a new wig!!! You crazy arse fool!!!! I just had to step in at this point to try to save this woman from a chemical scalping!

I politely advised her that if she is going to use a relaxer she will need to use a neutralising shampoo. I explained that never mind the smell of the relaxer lingering neutralising is a VERY IMPORTANT step (the most important) in the relaxer process and if she skipped it or used a shampoo without neutralising properties she would risk all of her hair breaking off. I didn’t mince my words or tone on delivering that bit of info! (Much in the same way that when my sister relaxed her hair sometime last year and called me up saying that she had relaxed her hair but had run out of ORS Creamy Aloe and was asking if it was okay to just shampoo with normal shampoo…..????!!!! I sent her lil backside straight to the BSS (with wet hair!) to go and get the proper shampoo!) I then said that she is best off using ORS relaxer with ORS neutraliser and associated products as they will compliment each other (and especially if you don’t know what you’re doing! Heck in this day and age you should get yourself on the internet and do some research – there really is no excuse!!!! I didn’t say that bit, but I thought it….)

In my opinion this woman clearly had no idea what the hell she was doing / going to do to her hair. She was well and truly caught up in the ‘I’ve got a relaxer in hand….gonna have straight hair on my head…..and no more breaking hair (for about 3 days!) haze that I know I’ve been in before myself. With my new found knowledge I thought to myself, really you don’t appear to know what you are about put on your hair/scalp and therefore probably have no clue about the possible issues if not dangers you could run into by using a relaxer incorrectly. I’m certainly no expert, but do consider myself to be informed, I spend enough hours daily trawling through blogs, the internet and YouTube, so I advised her as best I could and I didn’t want to patronise her.

I could see the man in the store giving me major evils, (until I made a small sale for him that is!) but seriously, what could I do… the man was gonna sell her design fluid, not even shampoo to wash out a relaxer. I guided her around to the tiny section where the ORS products are stored and said she should get the Creamy Aloe Shampoo to wash out her relaxer. Unfortunately they didn’t have any in stock. I’ve not really used anything other than box relaxers in the past and now use Affirm lye relaxer so I don’t really know about other brands of netralising shampoos. I took a quick look and pointed out the Elasta QP Stop Action Shampoo and the Motions Neutralizing Shampoo and said they should be good and advised that they both have colour indicators in them. She opted for Elasta.

I then apologised for butting into their conversation and mentioned that I have a blog (bemused faces….) and am interested in healthy hair (bemused faces once more – I really need to get me some free VistaPrint cards or something??!! I have been doing this blog thing for just over a year now...) and that they both sounded like they needed some help. She thanked, me so me being me, I took that as a hair’opportunity and seized with both hands and led her back to the ORS shelf. I quickly sung the praises of ORS Replenishing Pak and shoved it in her hand. Still looking at her bemused face I advised her that as relaxers are harsh on the hair a good step to incorporate would be to (after thoroughly rinsing the relaxer from her hair) she could add the ORS Pak for 5-10mins, rinse out and then thoroughly neutralise with the Elasta Shampoo. I didn’t go on about protein strands being broken down by the relaxer and the ORS Replenishing Pak putting some of the protein back into her hair or anything like that – I would have lost her at that point. I could sense she just wanted to get that relaxer home and slap it all up in her hair.

Although I think I helped this lady out a bit, it really did make me sad. I am soooooo pleased that I have taken it upon myself to educate myself about my hair and what I do to it. Judging by the products that I see in my local shops and the items that people buy and the general condition of most of the relaxed heads of hair I see in my town (broken, dry, short and generally dusty looking!), black women really need to educate themselves more on healthy hair care practices. It’s not just about running to a pot of relaxer or flinging on a weave when things aren’t looking and feeling too crash hot above their shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, I relax my hair. It breaks. It sheds like a dog at times. But despite that I still continue to try to make it healthier by educating myself and paying attention to what my hair needs. I no longer just relax my hair because it has been ingrained into my mind along the years that this is what I am ‘supposed’ to do to my strands. If my hair is breaking I try to find out why. If my hair is shedding, I try to find out why.

Seeing that woman today just made me think about my HHJ and wonder why the heck so many other black women just don’t have an interest in caring for their hair in a healthy manner. You don’t have to spend hours and hours on it like I do, just make a regimen that works for your available time and pay attention to product ingredients and understand a little about the science of your hair. When I speak to my friends and family about my HHJ I can see them glazing over. Luckily their hair is pretty much okay and they haven’t experienced the shedding that prompted me to start my journey. But why is it that it takes hair loss and damage to kick start the interest that should be instilled from our early years…..

Peace!

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6 comments

  1. Girl you did a great thing. I have taken over about three BSS conversations since my hair journey started. I go through the same steps you did until I hear something that's not right, hehe. But I wouldn't feel right minding my own business if I know this person is going to get "chemically scalped" or go home still not knowing what to do with her daughter"s kinky hair.

    guyanesesista.blogspot.com

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  2. I'm glad you stepped in and gave her some good advice. i haven't been in a situation like that yet, but I would have definitely done the same thing.

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  3. Kudos to you Tama! It's great how you offered that woman sound advice

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  4. I've done this before. I'm glad you only told her what she needed to hear and did not overwhelm her with information. It is great to help other's, it feels good. I agree that at this day and age, with all the information readily available there's no reason ppl should still be clueless. I am pretty good with my hair but I still research way to become better. Kudos to you!!

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  5. For the longest my family has complained about the up keep of my hair. They may comments such as "I'm too old to be havin' my hair back in no scrunchie." Like, okay? I understand: I'm at an age where my hair should look PRESENTABLE at all times, but their defination of "presentable" is defined as pressed down with a flat iron and straight. I actually got SO FRUSTRATED I GREW OUT OF THE HABIT of flat ironing my hair. So my hair was ALWAYS pulled back into a scrunchie and every time they see me, the same rant and rave. My main thing was this: Okay, you're complaining about the problem, yet you are not doing anything to fix it. You say "Raven do your hair" before you say "Raven, this is how you do your hair". When I learned how to "successfully" pull my hair back, with ALL of my hair back, instead of it being knotted up and the actually "pony tail" WASN'T sticking out the size of my thumbnail, it was a MILESTONE for me. Everything I've learned about my hair, I taught MYSELF. So when I got tired of all the complaining, I was like "I am going natural!" (Because I'd done research.) I got all sorts of responses: "That's ugly." "That's too much for you to manage." "You don't know how to take care of your hair as is, how you gone take care of MORE NAPS?!" And when I would tell them, or expressed to them answers of questions such as "Why?" they'll be like "Where you hear dat from?!" I'll say "I researched it on the web." And they'll counter "SEE THAT INTERNET GONE GET YOU IN TROUBLE! YOU LIVE W SOMEBODY THAT DO HAIR AND YO HAIR LOOK LIKE THAT!" Which was on the day of my last relaxer. Let me say: the person they have referred to hasn't done ANYTHING to my hair. I've done it MYSELF. I've learned MYSELF. Yes, she can sit and do my hair all day everyday, but I won't be learning ANYTHING. It's up to YOU to make the decision to set forth and do better for YOURSELF. You can have assistance, which is certainly better than hindrance, but I have to learn on my own. My own family, who I loved dearly, who complains about my hair, have nerve enough to complain more, even after I've put forth the effort to learn. They say "Train your hair", I can do that but I won't be able to do it effectively until I LEARN. You did every bit of right. I seek out as much help from as many healthy haired beauties as I can point out and for you to actually volunteer (you didn't really have a choice, lol) was certainly an act of JUSTICE. So many young ladies, that I go to school with, BEAUTIFUL, HEAD FULL OF NAPS! And I'm like "Have you heard of anything sans relaxer?" Because that's typically all I see now a days. I saw on young lady, her hair was relaxed, but it was brittle, broke off, and dry. It was so broke off, it didn't touch past her ears. You can tell her cut wasn't intended, because of the uneven hair around the edges. It was really hot this day, but it looked as if the wind were forcing her hair to jet out backward like that. I felt like crying. This is how the fellow woman is taking care of herself? I wish I could've helped her but, I honestly don't think theirs a return point for her. She may have to start ALL OVER BY CUTTING IT ALL OFF. I said all that to say: it's great that there are actually women taking a stand for themselves, but when you have negative obstacles such as a stupid salesmen, or a bad relaxer, you have to RESEARCH yourself and ask the questions as to why. I kodus you Tama! I'm sorry this is SOOOOOO long, but I had to elaborate. I just wish everyone could open up their eyes and see their hair can be beautiful, and there IS A WAY to make a relaxer, a bleach, a dye, etc to work. Chiiild.

    I'm so sorry this was long! I love your blog and I read it all the time! Keep up the great work, and have a blessed day!

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  6. Good and useful information. Thanks for sharing the blog
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