I am not my hair?: My battle with the Keratin Treatment!
For women hair is everything. Men love it long, hence the weave. Years ago people would clown on you if you had a weave or point you out for having one. Today it is assumed if your hair is long or full you must have a weave. In fact, if you don’t have one you’re now the girl being judged! Yup, I said it. Before if you had a weave people talked about how you had fake hair and you were fake. Now if you dont have fake hair people look at you and say you should have a weave. I mean everyone else does.
The pressure for women’s hair to be straight like the Europeans has never dissipated. In fact, it has grown so much that straight European hair is expected of us all. Whether it’s a weave, a wig, or a relaxer for most women the people have spoken and straight hair is expected of us all, unless of course you’re the product of an interracial relationship and you have the accepted naturally curly hair. Curls are accepted, as long as they are not the ones that are tight and seen in Africa or in a National Geographic photo spread. No those are not acceptable.
I never thought I fell into this. I mean I agree that as a woman your hair is your crowning glory, but I felt it was your glory no matter how you wore it – short, long, curly tight, curly loose, bald, in a Caesar, whatever. I’ve worn my hair in various styles and lengths – really short, mid-length and long, curly, straight, and braided too. My one requirement was it had to be relaxed. I know, I know, it doesn’t have to be relaxed and I’m just letting others dictate what I do with my hair. Blah, blah, blah.
Me and my bff were at work talking and she told me she had gotten a Keratin Treatment. She told me how it makes your hair bone straight and there’s no frizz in humidity or burning like a relaxer. The best part is it lasts for 4 months. She was happy with it and I could see how straight her hair was. Well she has it and I think I might get this, that’s what I’m thinking especially since I’m due for a touch up. By the end of the week I’ve made up my mind that I’m getting a Keratin Treatment. What I neglected to tell you is that her hair texture is closer to Kim Kardashian’s while my hair’s texture is closer to Cicely Tyson’s. Not Tyler Perry movies Cicely Tyson; no I’m talkin’ Sounder and Miss Jane Pittman Cicely Tyson. My hair is very thick and coarse. It could possibly survive a nuclear attack.
I go to the Dominican Hair Salon and I discuss the Keratin Treatment and the pros and cons of it for my hair. I mean, my bff has it and so do two of her cousins. Their hair is kinda, sorta close to mine. Kinda. Besides, the stylist and salon owner tell me this will be wonderful for my hair. No more relaxer every 6-10 weeks, no more frizz, I can wear my hair straight or “natural”. I’m all in! I hear that you really only need one ounce and that’s what most people use. It’s either this or a relaxer and they’re telling me i’m gonna love this!
The process starts with a really good wash. They scrub and make sure your hair is squeaky clean because it has to be clean in order to have the keratin treatment. Now your hair has to be combed through to make sure it will be straight. However, if you need a touch up, a rat tail comb is not your friend. After the comb thru your hair parted into four, just like it is for a relaxer. Now the keratin creme is smoothed on your hair and combed through . . . again with the damn rat tail comb. It is explained to me that this part of the process is pertinent because you must comb straight through and make sure there are no tangles. Well we’ve now gone through two 1oz bottles and another bottle is being opened. You ever see one of those pedi-cab drivers pedaling on that bike and when their load is heavy you see how hard they’re pedaling. You see how much energy they exert? Why does she look like she’s exerting that much energy trying to smooth out my hair? After this is done on all four parts and its smoothed out i think you go under the dryer. Next up is the blow out. You need this to set the straight pattern. Again, I am in need of a touch up so this blow out is not fun. My hair feels thick and kinda straight like when I blow dry it. The flat iron is next so I guess that’s going to make it bone straight. Flat ironing almost every strand of hair takes a long time. Now it’s finished and I have to make sure I don’t put any clips or dents in my hair because my hair has to set like this and in 3 days I have to wash my hair. I need to use keratin shampoo and conditioner to keep my hair straight.
I’m not sure but my hair doesn’t feel bone straight. I mean my hair has never been bone straight but it should be straighter than when I blow dry it. Right? Why do my roots feel like parts of an afro puff?
It’s day 3, time to wash my hair. So I buy the expensive keratin products and am sure my hair will be different after this. I mean I did everything they told me. This shampoo is not like my Creme of Nature shampoo. That makes my hair feel silky smooth. This feels rough and gritty. I guess washing that stuff out is the issue and the conditioner is going to make my hair feel like silk! How much of this conditioner do I need? Why does my hair feel so puffy? Maybe it starts out puffy but when I comb it out it’s silky soft and straight. I need some detangler because this is a mess. This is rough. It’s two days later and this is not going well. I need to speak with the hair salon owner. The bff says her hair is okay so maybe I should go back to the salon.
Now they’re telling me they’ve spoken to their colleagues and I probably need to have another treatment and get ready . . . I should probably stick with relaxer! This second treatment requires another almost 2 ozs. I go through this entire process again, and they tell me that maybe I should wait a week before I wash my hair. You know, let the keratin really set.
It’s been two weeks and now the bff is not happy. It seems as though she needs to get her roots blown straight. What? This does not bode well for my hair. She’s noticed a few other side effects and I tell her of the side effects I’m having including lack of moisture and excessive dryness. The boo advises me to buy Head & Shoulders because he’s seeing a lot of “snow”. He also notices that my hair is taking much longer to do during the week and the process after washing my hair seems quite extensive. Now after washing my hair I have to use a bottle of detangler, blow dry it, flat iron it and hot curl it. I can’t do much more of this. After ditching the expensive keratin products and using Head & Shoulders I can at least feel the texture change and its a bit more manageable.
Now I need to go to my other hair dresser because maybe I need a wash and set. When i tell her what i’ve done she shakes her head. Her assistant has to wash my hair and she keeps asking me why am I letting the relaxer grow out and don’t I want to get a touch up today? I make it through the questions and she sets my hair. When it finally dries and I feel my hair I feel so much wavy dry hair and I know these curls are going to be interesting. When the rollers come out and my hair dresser starts to blow it out I’m besides myself. The heat, the pulling, the pain. This is awful and I know right now that I can not go through this again. This is pain that I have not felt since 7th grade when my mother was trying to get that hot comb through my hair!
Three days later and my hair is not my hair. The bff is still complaining about her roots and I think we both thought somehow the keratin would seep through our scalp and the new growth would grow out silky smooth and straight, sorta like my Chrissy doll when I was a kid. Her hair “grew” out of a hole in her head and it was pretty and straight.
Before the week was out I had a funeral to attend and my hair had already lost the lustre of the hair salon. I decided I needed it to go back into a ponytail and if my make up was tight no one would notice my hair. Well I noticed my hair when I went to the restroom after the funeral. I looked in the mirror and while the make up was snatched, the hair was a fiasco. I didn’t recognize that hair and face combination. By days end, on my way home, I walked into Duane Reade and picked up a Just For Me kiddie relaxer. I figured if the treatment didn’t work correctly relaxing my hair would be fine. Using a relaxer for kids and a regular strength would be just fine. As I started rinsing my hair I had to stop and think how strange my hair felt. It’s smooth and wait, is it laying down on my head? Is my hair straight? Oh my!
I realized that while I may say i’m not affected by the whole debate on black hair, that I am lying! I need it manageable and soft. I need to be able to get my fingers through it. We all need to do with it what we like and stop judging one another about it being real, fake, natural, relaxed, whatever.
It’s been a week now and I have washed my hair again . I haven’t used a dryer or flat iron. I am smiling again and I can go to the hair salon again.
I guess I am my hair.