If there is one smell that triggers a barrel of emotion in me, it's the scent that pops up whenever I'm near my sister's hair after it's been freshly relaxed. With over a decade of relaxers under my belt, I conjure up strong feelings that only people with a relaxer can understand. As anyone knows, beauty can often mean pain, discomfort, and a whole lot of time spent. Relaxers are no different than scheduling an appointment at the dentist — you know you have to go, but you also know you're going to be extremely uncomfortable, possibly for long after the appointment. Just like the dentist, a relaxer appointment with your hairdresser can bring bad news and pain, but just like we can't be stopped from desperately seeking beautiful straight teeth, we relaxed-hair lovers can't be stopped from wanting straight hair.
Unfortunately, the biggest difference is that while most people dread their annual visits to the dentist, gals seeking straight locks have monthly visits to their hairdresser to look forward to. Sure, the results are going to be amazing and make your life a hellova lot easier, but that doesn't mean the gripes of relaxers isn't a thing to complain about on the reg. With that in mind, I give to you all the annoying things us gals who have had hair relaxers can silently nod our heads in unison and say "Yes, child!"
1. The Itching
Most relaxed babes know the drill and maybe even learned it the hard, painful way: It is imperative to not wash your hair right before you relax your hair. The larger the gap between a wash and relaxer, the less likely you are to burn. That means a lot of itchiness while you wait for your scalp to produce enough oil to protect it. Since relaxed hair has different needs, weekly washes are definitely ideal. I would actually cut my nails down to keep from itching in my sleep. Oh, the things we do for straight hair.
2. Waiting Over 45 Minutes For Your Hairdresser Even Though You Have An Appointment
Seriously, I never waited less than a half hour for to start the process. These were times where my patience was really tested. Thoughts of leaving my hairdresser forever would start to play out in my mind as I silently prepped a dramatic speech about how valuable my time is. None of those things ever happened, because, well... I needed a relaxer. Waiting for the tedious hair relaxing that inevitably leads to burns is like waiting to get punched in the face. Please, let's just get it over with.
3. Hearing Your Hairdresser Say "Just Let Me Know When it Starts to Burn"
Sure, I'll let you know when it burns... but, if it always burns after just five minutes does it really make a difference? Anyone who has experienced this predicament knows that your treatment needs to burn those roots for a certain amount of time or else you are going to come out of the salon the same way you came in. When the burning sensation came full-throttle, I would speak up in a shaky voice, claiming that it was just too much to bear, at which point I'd be asked to wait just a little bit longer. What's the point of asking if you're just gonna keep that stuff on anyway?! I'm too old to be tearing up in the chair, begging you to stop. IMO, All relaxing appointments should come equipped with cocktail service.
4. The Feeling Of Having A Surprise Special Occasion Come Up When Your Hairdresser Is MIA
You can pretty much count on your hairdresser to not be around when you need them last minute. I only say this because, in my experience, it seems to be the only profession that doesn't notify all their clients or put up an automatic email reply when out of town. You'd think I would have learned my lesson, but I never stopped believing I'd be able to get a last minute appointment, which lead to lots of less-than-ideal hair days.
5. Experiencing Extreme Temperatures All Year Round
Dressing for my hair salon was always a bit of a crapshoot. In the winter, the lack of ventilation would mean I was literally at risk of getting a serious cold from shivering in the chair. At least once I was under the hair dryer, I could sneak my hands in there and warm them up. Get a relaxer in the summer and you're already sweating your relaxer out before you've even paid.
6. The Fear Of Going To A New Hairdresser For A Relaxer
I would need at least three references before I considered letting a stranger give me a relaxer. I would need to look at their hair with a magnifying glass to ensure my safety in another dresser's hands. It's not even about vanity, it's about the serious chemicals that are about to be applied directly to your skin. One thing I didn't know until it was too late (aka having most of my hair burned out) was if you do need to switch 'dressers, make sure you know what strength and brand of relaxer you've been using. Ideally, you should be using the same potion every time.
7. The Elation/Frustration of the Blow Out
You've made it through having dirty hair, the burning, and the awkward hour spent sitting under a hairdryer. Perhaps your dryer went off 30 minutes ago and your hairdresser is nowhere to be found until finally, with one swift motion of a finger you dance your way to your blow-out. The thing about applying high heat on a raw scalp is it hurts like a motha. Naturally, I wanted to get the best blowout possible (and girrrrl, could Renee blow out some hair) but I always squirmed, cringed, and probably cried a few times during the process.
8. How Water Becomes The Enemy
Once your hair is relaxed, the worst possible thing that can happen is an unexpected rainstorm. When I had a car, I would wrap a garbage bag around my hair and sprint to my car as if the rain would burn off my hair (I really did believe that at one point) and stay inside with my new 'do the rest of the day. When I was relying on public transit? The only option was the saddest option: I would have to wait out the rain. I would have to call my date and ask if he wanted to hang out at this really cool salon because this was my home now.
9. Those Sweet Scabs
Your scalp was certainly tender when you left the salon and maybe like many people, you left with a headache. None of that even compares to the annoying scabs that happen occasionally on your scalp. This can happen for a variety of reasons: you itched before your appointment, your hairdresser left your relaxer on slightly too long, you used a relaxer that's too strong. Regardless, the scabs are awful and when they start to clump your hair together, you might end up ripping out your hair trying to get those shameful scabs out. You can't comb, brush, or blow dry that section of your hair until the scabs have been dealt with. Which is a damn shame, because those tresses were going to be on fleek this week.
10. The Struggle Of Attempting To Recreate The First Week of Your Relaxed Hair
The time has come to wash your hair. Oddly enough, I never owned my own hair dryer and would choose to blow dry and then flat iron my hair after washing. Afterwards, it always looked flat and bad. That's why many relaxed babes choose to go to their salon for a weekly wash-n-set. But personally? I would rather call out of work to dedicate four hours to perfecting my own wash-n-set then sit at a salon for two.
So maybe those struggles are incredibly real, but it took a while before I regretted going through the trials and tribulations of a relaxer just to have straight hair.