Monday, November 05, 2007

treat it right

this is an open letter. if it applies to you, please take note. if it doesn't, and you know someone who should read this, please, do the loving thing, and help a sista out.

If you know someone who is knowledgeable about hair maintenance, perhaps you should ask for their help, because health is a good thing, and right now your hair lacks health.

Perhaps you are not drinking enough water and getting enough nutrients through a good diet and vitamins. Or perhaps it's as simple as getting a trim to save your ends from being uneven. I've also read that using a satin pillowcase or scarf is helpful at night to prevent dryness and breakage. But you should probably start trying some or all of these things to help make things a little better.

Because there is no reason for your hair line to look like that. You've probably been pulling your hair back too tightly, or getting your hair braided too often. Sometimes, your hair needs a break. If you keep pulling at it, the roots will get weak, and your hair will come out. A little variety in your hairstyle will help keep your hair healthy.

But please don't take that overboard - too much variety could wear your hair out too. You know, super-strength chemical relaxers are not for everybody. You might be that person who needs to let your hair run free for a little while. There is no shortage of information on the internet or in magazines about hairstyles you can try that will give your hair a much needed break so that it can stay strong.

Or, have you considered trying a children's relaxer? Or no relaxer at all? I'm telling you, those Dominican girls are good with those blow dryers! And they're affordable, too. Other choices include straightening combs and flat-irons. Just please, get someone you trust to do it - someone who knows how to do it without charring your tresses, sapping them of much needed moisture. Using heat is serious business, and must be done with care, if at all, because it's even better if you don't use heat. Just know that if you insist on being able to have your hair blow in the wind, you have options beyond continually processing your hair to the point where it is dry, brittle, and broken. Investing in a good conditioner is a helpful thing to try.

For all your efforts to have a beautiful mane, maybe you can't see what we see when others look at your hair. I'm sorry to say this, but it looks unloved. Have you ever considered wearing your hair in its original texture? Do you remember what it is? Think back - way back before second or third grade. Matter of fact, dig those early elementary school pictures out. Do you not like what you see? I mean, that's possible, but let's say you think the way the Creator made you was just right. Think maybe you could embrace that? Think you could try working with it?

I'm just saying, it's an option, and it would probably look better than all that excessive gel which is obscuring the beauty and texture of your hair (and contributing to dehydration and breakage). If you tried something different, your hair might be stronger, and longer, so that you don't have to snatch what little hair that didn't break off into a ponytail holder that contributes to the breakage (and can't even hold the many short, broken flyaways that the gel/hair grease couldn't hold).

If you're interested in putting your hair away, in extensions, bonded or sewn track weaves, or lace-front or cap wigs, please take note - you still need to take care of what's actually growing out of your head. Just because it's out of sight doesn't mean you can just let it go, and especially for too long a period of time. Aren't you tired of having your roots peek out, looking all forlorn and neglected? Aren't you tired of seeing something unruly when you get your weave/extensions taken out? You can only escape doing your own hair for so long. In any case, your hair won't be any better off if you neglect caring for it. We all know what happens when someone with locs does not keep up with her new growth - do you think you are exempt from having to love your hair just because it's been braided to your head or covered with cosmetics? You aren't. How many years do you think you can get away with this before you get your weave/extensions taken out one day to find that hardly any of your own hair is left?

Take responsibility for your hair. If you can't afford a professional, invest in the tools to take care of it yourself with simple hairstyles in between salon visits - or take the initiative to learn how to care for it yourself. Don't be afraid of your own hair. It came from you. It's part of you, not your enemy. If you are patient and willing to learn, you could get good at it without harming it.

I don't say these things to make people look down their noses at folks who aren't keeping up with their hair. I'm saying them because somebody has to say them. We are allowing each other to walk around with unhealthy hair and unhealthy scalps. Too many of us are causing our own hair loss. Too many of us are teaching our daughters and nieces and little cousins by example to treat their hair in an unhealthy way. It hurts to see 5-7 out of 10 of us I pass in public doing things that are harmful to themselves, in the name of style, or out of unnecessary ignorance of what their hair needs, or because someone told them their hair is "bad," or "worrisome," or "nappy" - all virtual synonyms for "unworthy of care, time, and love." Each of us is worthy of care, time, and love - our hair is worthy of good care. Our hair is NOT too difficult to appreciate and care for. We should treat it right.

Love your hair.