4 Lessons Learned from 1 Year Relaxed After 7 Years of Natural Hair

1 Year of Relaxed Hair
By Kanisha Parks

Going back relaxed after being natural for 7 years has been nothing short of a major learning experience. The day of my relaxer, I was so incredibly happy and relieved to finally have hair that was easy to manage. But looking back, not all of my high expectations were met. Honestly, if you had asked me the day I got my relaxer where I wanted to be in a year, I definitely would’ve said something like, “Well, I plan to grow and retain at least six inches of hair.” Needless to say, that didn’t happen . . .

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Here I am a year later and I probably retained three inches of growth. I was so disappointed but am happy that at least my hair is healthy and growing. I can’t lie, it’s been quite a year for me and my haircare definitely took a backseat to other things, but I was still able to take a look back over this year and compare my natural hair journey with my new relaxed hair journey, and here are some important lessons that can apply to either natural or relaxed hair:

My relaxed hair
1. The grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. 
Relaxing your hair will not eliminate any hair problems you’re having. This may sound obvious but whether you’re relaxed or natural, you’re going to have to take really good care of your hair if you expect to retain length. I went natural back then because I thought simply going natural was the key to growing my hair super long after years of struggling with short relaxed hair. Seven years later, I thought going back relaxed was going to have the same effect! It seems I should’ve learned the first time that it’s not about the texture of your hair but the way you maintain it.

That being said, yes, my relaxed hair has been much easier to manage and I find that I don’t get breakage as easily, even when I do get lazy with my haircare. With my natural hair, moisture was a constant issue and concern but with relaxed hair, ensuring that protein is regularly incorporated in my regimen is more important. So with either one, you have to remain consistent and attuned to your hair’s needs.

My natural hair
2. If you’re doing your hair yourself, you have to learn about it.
I can’t stress this enough—whether you’re natural or relaxed, knowing your hair is key! Don’t think that learning someone else’s routine is the secret to gaining the same hair success that they have had. You’re going to have to really put time into learning about your hair if you plan on doing it. Is it dry, protein-deficient, over-moisturized? What texture is it? Are your strands fine, thick, or normal? What’s your hair porosity? Do you have any trouble areas?

I mean, think about it—you wouldn’t trust someone who didn’t really know anything about hair to do your hair. So why do you trust yourself if you haven’t dedicated time to learning about hair?

3. Just because they can do it doesn’t mean that I can (or want to).
I see relaxed ladies on YouTube all the time doing their own relaxers and even though I am a complete advocate for doing things myself, relaxing my own hair will never be one of them. I’m just too afraid of something going wrong.

The same is true for getting relaxers at all. They really aren’t for everyone but neither is natural hair. Yes, technically anyone can go natural or get a relaxer but every woman has to do what’s best for her, her hair, and her lifestyle.

4. NEVER give up on your hair! 
All too often we get frustrated too easily with our hair and make rash decisions. I went back relaxed after weeks of turning the decision over in my mind, researching, and weighing the pros and cons. I didn’t just do it because I was mad that my hair wasn’t growing.

Even now, not getting as much hair growth as I would’ve liked within the past year hasn’t made me want to throw in the towel. I know it’s my own lack of paying close attention to my haircare routine that stunted my growth. Always be real with yourself and when all else fails, seek help from a professional! Your hair can and will grow, it just takes time and patience, sis.

All in all, I know how controversial relaxers are and while I totally understand that, I still am 100% happy with my decision. The one thing I do miss more than anything is truly being a part of the natural hair community since I’m not natural anymore! Regardless, I still follow all of my favorite naturals and share any information I can about natural hair with other women.

Regardless of our hair differences, it’s important to maintain the sisterhood and keep our opinions from interfering with. After all, it really is just hair!

Are you happy with your relaxed or natural hair?
Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other than CurlyNikki.com, she has also written for BlackNaps.organd Devozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at [email protected]

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