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Natural Hair Causes Damage? Say WHAT!!!???

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The following text was copied from a 7/24/11 article by Zuri Brannen of the Observer-Dispatch article entitled, “Hair trends: Women choosing new styles over chemicals” (

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Of course, not everyone follows the crowd. Many women still prefer to wear their hair relaxed because they find it easier to manage. Laly Marte, owner of Laly’s Beauty Salon in Utica, said that relaxers are something that some women have grown accustomed to.

“Once you try something new, it’s hard to go back to what you had before,” she said.

Marte encourages women to use relaxers, and does not suggest that they wear their hair natural because it also causes damage.

“If you leave your hair natural, it breaks off,” she said.

Rachel Yangasa, 15, has been getting relaxers since she was eight years old, and said she prefers to keep it that way because it makes her hair straighter and easier to manage. She said that she would never wear her hair natural because of how difficult it would be to maintain it.

“It would be like an afro,” she said.

But her younger sister, 12-year-old Ticia Yangasa, gave up relaxers last year in favor of a chemical-free alternative: wash and sets from hair salons. Stylists wash and straighten her hair using blow dryers and hot irons so that it can still be straight without using chemicals.

Since Ticia switched, she’s noticed that it has helped her hair to grow better, and it is more healthy, she said.

I don’t know if you noticed the comment by Ms. Marte that wearing your hair natural causes it to break off. SAY WHAT!!!! Now, I’m not the natural hair police snatching women up when they get relaxers (wow, is it really necessary, let folks make their own choices!) but I certainly think it’s uncool to say that natural hair causes damage. What do you all think? Have you ever received advice like this?Please share your story and how you responded.

  • topie

    Hi J-Squared! Thanks for your comment. What do you think causes the split ends and knots? Is it being natural or is there something going on with the hair care process? Maybe natural hair needs more trims? Wider tooth combs? Brushing? I don't know your hair type so this might be way off! Just a few thoughts. Thanks for posting! 🙂

  • J-Squared

    I've heard that natural hair tends to wind up on itself, which causes knots. I trim my hair very often due to the split ends and knots. The front half of my hair is 3b and doesn't knot. The back half of my hair is 3c and it generates alot of tiny knots at the end.I comb with a wide tooth comb and fingers. I've tried deep conditioning more, but that doesnt work either… starting to get a little frustrated 🙁

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When I wore a natural at my consulting job, I was on a covert cosmetic mission (the image in my mind is making me crack up): keep the naps out of sight at all cost! I want to reflect on a comment I made yesterday about my constant attempts to make my natural hair more palatable to others: “What a waste of time and energy! Given that other women have confided in me that they’ve also engaged in such activities, I can only imagine the loss of mental energy and productivity in the workplace. When people feel that they have to constantly strive to attain an image that is not naturally attainable, such striving cannot lead to their best performance at work or in life.” Strive. That is a perfect word to describe how I related to my hair. According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (, strive means: 1) to devote serious effort or energy, and 2) to struggle in opposition and the word originates from Middle English to quarrel, contend, fight and is similar to the word “strife”. WOW!!!!

I was in a constant process of looking in the mirror, groaning and then doing whatever I could to fight my hair’s natural tendencies. I kept trying to get my hair to comply. Bind it up. At some point, I realized that my striving was futile. If I wanted to wear natural hair, I had to learn how to work with it and stop fighting against it. This poem by Sharon Harvey Rosenberg ( captures this sentiment.


by Sharon Harvey Rosenberg


My unbound hair turns

on itself, coiling

into single-strand

knots and tangles.


I separate

and snip

the locking loops.


There were no knots

when my kinks were









from trees.

But I’m Unbound:

and thanking God

For napping,


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  • Makeup by Sherry Blossom

    Awesome poem! Keep striving!! 🙂 Sherry Blossom of Freelance MUA in NY, beauty blogger, youtube and newly natural 3/20/11 (im blogging about my journey as well!)

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My Hair Broke a Professional Down

Given all of the hair self-reflection I’ve done over the past few weeks since I started this blog, it’s no surprise that I had a dream about my hair last night.I dreamt that I cut off my dreadlocks and went back to wearing a TWA.This time around, I used products that allowed me to enjoy the natural curl of my hair as my afro grew.I was loving life.Then, I went to some misty outdoor event and, POOF, my style shrunk.I woke up thinking, “Is this a sign?”I’ve gone back and forth about whether I should cut off my hair and start over.Honestly, part of the reason I locked my hair was that the maintenance of my two strand twists just got to be too much.In fact, my hair made someone cry.No joke.

My husband and I used to live in Atlanta and I got my locs maintenanced by a fabulous stylist at Nseya Salon and Spa (when I looked for it, just found out that it closed!Oh no!).Nseya was an upscale salon that used fabulous products and provided great customer service.One time, my stylist was on vacation and I made an appointment with another person.BIG MISTAKE!The new stylist took one look at my hair and excused herself.I could see her talking to the owner through the glass exterior window.She was visibly shaken and…wait a minute, is she crying?“What in the world is going on?” I wondered.In a few minutes, the owner came over to me and said something to the effect of the stylist didn’t specialize in my type of hair and that they’d be contacting my regular stylist to come in.WHAT!?I couldn’t believe it.My naps had broken the stylist down.That was too funny to me.And a little embarrassing.You mean my hair could make a professional cry?Wow!Anyway, my regular stylist came in (bless you wherever you are) and hooked my hair up.

I’d always loved locs and thought that they were gorgeous.I felt that locs would be a way to keep my hair natural and minimize the salon stay.That is what happened, but sometimes I still wonder what my hair would look like in all of its puffed out, afro glory.

I’d love to hear your stories.Why do you pick the hair styles that you wear?Creative exploration?Convenience?Habit?

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My Family Not Feeling My Natural Do

I had agita in my stomach as I drove back home to my parent’s house in Alexandria, Virginia. I was home for Winter Break between my first and second year getting my MBA at the Darden School of Business. Oh my goodness, how was my family going to respond to my new hair?

Most of my formative years were spent in Alexandria, Virginia and I grew up on a FABULOUSLY SUPPORTIVE street. There were Black doctors, lawyers, teachers, principals, military personnel and they all took an interest in us young folks. We could rip and run up and down the street and bust into and out of each other’s houses. Whew, those were some FUN days. As I drove down the street with my newly shorn hair, I realized that I now felt a bit like an outsider. I could not recall one person who wore a short, teeny weeny afro (TWA) I like I had. I did not want to be perceived as the good girl who went off to school and came back a militant, crazy Black woman. After all, those were the people who wore this hairstyle right? Seriously, some people looked at me and wondered aloud why I’d do something so drastic, cut off my pretty hair. Didn’t I know that I had nappy, coarse hair? Why would I do that? Perhaps I should consider getting a texturizer? These questions all came from people I knew and loved, people who were close to me.

It hit me. This cultural norm of wearing long, relaxed hair is deeply imbedded in Black society and has been for DECADES, almost a century in the United States! That helped to explain why the women around me were resisting my change to natural hair. It was almost like I was doing something wrong. Betraying some secret sister commitment. Where did these attitudes come from? The following 1928 ad for Hi-Ja (a “hair fix” product) is from the Chicago Defender (click to enlarge). The ad illustrates some of the complexities associated with beauty.

My grandmother, and her mother and my mother, may have grown up with images like this, images that depict “long, wavy” and “straight” hair as “charming” and the alternative as “short and ugly”. Oh my goodness!!!! Oh my goodness!!! Furthermore, you BETTER change your nappy hair or you might lose your man. WOW! I’m going to need a minute to reflect on this.

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The Big Chop!

Equipped with a new desire to go natural, I now had to figure out what exactly I was going to do with my hair. Was I going to transition with braids, a weave? Or, was I going to just do the big chop? I am the kind of person who loves to do research, gather input and then conduct more and more research. BUT, once I make a decision, I go for it. I’d spent years thinking about my hair and now I was ready to do the big chop. One of my girlfriends in Baltimore had just done the same thing and she recommended that I go to a barber shop on Charles Street to get the deed done.

I was nervous when I sat in the chair. It’s funny, I remembered tons of women draping salon capes around me when getting my relaxers and now a young, black man was draping one around me, only this time to chop off my hair into a short natural. I was nervous that a man was cutting my hair. I did not want to look masculine. That was a big fear. I am just under six feet tall and I can range anywhere from a size 12 to a size 16. I am bigger than some dudes so the last thing I wanted was to walk out of the barber shop and be mistaken for a guy. Maybe that’s the main reason that I always wore flawless makeup and chunky jewelry during my short natural days (hmm, had I just exchanged one beauty standard for another?). So much (i.e., my self-image and my feminine pride) was tied to my hair. But, I know I’m not the only one. That is why this is such a big deal.

If I recall correctly, the barber first combed out my hair and then took scissors and cut off the bulk of it (does Locks of Love take relaxed hair? I should have thought about that then). I had my girlfriend snap a shot and I looked like Don King. Straight up. Thank God we used regular film back then because if she’d shown me the digital image I might have lost my nerve. The process didn’t take too long and before I knew it, the barber turned the chair around and I gazed at my new image. My stomach sank. Oh my GOD! What in the world had I done? I looked like a dude, a cute dude, but a dude nonetheless. Ok, maybe I didn’t look like a dude but I had NEVER seen my hair that short in my entire life. It was going to take time to adjust. I noticed that my facial features looked different, my cheekbones stood out, so did my eyes. It was pretty amazing to see how much a hair cut can transform you (I guess that’s why Tyra Banks has those makeovers on America’s Next Top Model).

I got up, paid the barber and walked out of the shop. I had no idea how my family was going to respond.

  • meandmrcole

    OMG!!!!! That picture brings back such memories!! It's amazing to think how far you've come in your journey– I am loving the blog.

  • topie

    Thanks, glad you're loving the blog! I love writing it! I'm so glad you were there to take the pic. Wow, how time has flown.

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