Photo Credit: Rusydi Rashid
My hair is killing me right now. I know it’s not popular to talk about this “dark side” of the natural hair life, but every now and again, I get in moods where I’m just so tired of my hair. Not tired with the texture or the fact that it’s natural, of course, but just tired of the fact that me and the ‘fro can’t see eye to eye. It’s like my hair is the restless girlfriend that wants to go out to dinner and be taken to fancy plays and I’m the annoyed boyfriend that would rather stay in to watch Monday Night Football and play Xbox with the guys. I don’t want to wine and dine my hair. I want to be selfish and spend less time with her and more time with my other interest. Yet, I’m still “in” to her. I do love her. And I want her to be in tip top shape as my “trophy” girlfriend. When we walk down the street together, I want to inspire jealously in everyone who dares to gaze upon her long strands and perfect shape. But she’s so high maintenance. Or is she? As radical as it is, I’m willing to test a crazy proposal…
…can I put less time in our relationship without us breaking up?
As I said before, I really do love my hair but for almost the last year it has been so finicky about what it needs. Like a heat wave in the middle of January, at first extreme dryness came upon my ends without much notice or warning. I compensated by slathering them with coconut oil, shea butter, or other moisturizing products, but a day or two would go by and I was back to the same dry, tangled mess. Perturbed by the tangles and my new-found propensity to attract single-strand knots, I buckled down and launched into a protective styling campaign by mainly wearing my hair in twists. This seemed to work for a while; in fact, I even experienced the length retention I was looking for by finally reaching “arm-pit length”. Then a strange thing happened: my ends were getting very, very raggedy.
My immediate reaction was “What?!? I’ve been wearing my hair in pulled back twists for months? How could my ends possibly be this bad?” But alas, my precious tips were sporting that very frayed look so I just bit the bullet and gave myself a trim. A few weeks later, however, I found myself needing to do it again. And again. Something was clearly going wrong here.
After monitoring my hair regimen very closely for one week, I noticed that when unraveling my twist to sport the customary twist-out that I normally rocked on the weekends, my hair was being split apart in almost a literal “ripping” fashion. I promise I was gentle and cognizant to baby my hair during the take down process, but no matter what I did this “ripping” phenomenon seemed to be unavoidable.
Looking for any remedy to the problem, I hypothesized that perhaps my ends just needed to be stretched as my hair got longer in order to avoid the tangling. Curly Nikki talks about stretched ends as an aid in her length retention so I definitely felt that was a good direction to go. And it was. Hauling out my trusty Gold n’ Hot dryer, magnetic rollers, and permed rods, for the past two weeks I’ve been experimenting with rollersets and perm rod/braidouts and my hair has definitely tangled less. I have enjoyed having my hair stretched not only because I can wear my hair bigger, but because I can now pull it back into a substantial bun/ponytail. Sounds great, right? Problem solved? Well, not exactly. You see, here’s the rub…
…I am lazy and impatient and I don’t like to spend a lot of time on my hair.
What?!?! Et tu, Brute Think & Grow Chick??? Yeah ya’ll, I said it. I don’t want to HAVE TO do a lot to my hair. (Unless I want to, of course.)
Mind you, I was under that dryer for only about 30 minutes but I really couldn’t stand to be under there for another second. And why should I? Like I’m sure many of you can relate, there are just too many responsibilities and things that I want to do that take up a lot of my time. For instance, how am I supposed to manage my new bookclub if I’m around fooling with my hair for hours everyday just because I’m natural? Does natural hair automatically equal a high maintenance relationship?
In theory, I know this to be *untrue* because I hear and read about many naturals who have these wonderful “5 minute” routines and their hair is long and fabulous. I literally have been combing the features on Curly Nikki and Black Girl Long Hair looking for naturals with 3c/4a hair (my texture) who are thriving on “set it and forget it” hair regimens. The underlying question that I’m not particularly thrilled to face, however, is whether or not I can realistically be low maintenance with my particular hair needs. I mean hey, my hair is naturally dry and likes to snarl up at the ends. As much as I want to be one of those carefree naturals, maybe I can’t given my goals for length retention?
Or maybe I can. In fact, I’m banking on it. I am literally going to start as the bottom of the “simple” scale with wash-and-go’s and work my way up until I hit the minimum amount of care needed to get the hair I want. Perhaps it is wishful thinking. But for now, my life and “fussy” hair are like oil and water. It’s just can’t seem to get them to mix.