Neatness and the Destruction of Black Hair

I remember talking to a friend after church many years ago. At that point, I had been on my texlax journey for 2 years and was proud of the progress it had made. I had washed my hair on Saturday and intended to put it into box braids after church so I could wear my wig to work come Monday morning. I wore it in a cute (in my opinion) poofy looking bun and off to church I went.
During our catch up, with a look of genuine concern, my friend said, “ Your hair is due for a touch up, you should get it done soon because your hair doesn’t look neat”. I excitedly explained to her that my hair was texlaxed and that I had had a touch up just two weeks prior. I tried to tell a few things about healthy hair care.
Lets just say she didn’t get it. As far as she was concerned my hair just wasn’t tidy and she reiterated that I needed another touch up because the last one clearly didn’t work.


She wasn’t the first or last person to make such comments. These days its comments about my hair not looking shiny enough or your hair is nice but don’t you want to get it done aka styled. Fortunately for me I’ve never been one to be easily influenced by the views of others about my appearance so such comments have never a had any detrimental effect on my psyche.
I had seen the healthy hair care light at that point. I had re-learned a lot about what black hair is supposed to be aesthetically both in its natural and relaxed states. And I was fine with it.


The concern I have and why I decided to write this post is because the hair of so many black women is being destroyed by the concept of neatness. Whilst we have this time, I would like to write posts which I hope will challenge us to gain a better understand the character of our hair and to see the beauty in it in whichever state we choose to wear it be it natural, texlaxed, relaxed or loc’ed.
Failure to do so has lead countless women to sustain permanent hair loss and many more are on that path.


Afro hair is textured.
Even relaxed hair retains some degree of texture.
When we get a fresh relaxer, our hair might look very sleek for a while but after a few washes, the texture retained is usually apparent. This is why  relaxed hair often does not blend well with Caucasian and Asian hair extensions and the use of closures, frontals or flat irons on the relaxed hair is required to hide the telling difference in texture. Relaxed hair is still black hair. It will not look move or behave like other hair types.  And remenber even fully relaxed hair should not be relaxed beyond 80% because beyond this point too much damage (aka protein loss) would have occured and the hair would have lost its elasticity.  This is just one example in why the concept of healthy relaxed hair is possible, ie healthy by relaxed hair standards, but thats a battle for another day.
This may not apply to over processed relaxed hair but even hair that is over-processed will have some beautiful new growth spring up within a few weeks.

Our hair is textured and the more texture we eliminate, the more damage is caused to our hair.
The texture of our hair which is one of its defining characteristics, even in its relaxed state, is unfortunately perceived by many within our own communities as untidy, rough and in need of “fixing”. So we pull, stretch, gel, smoothen and hint of texture away and put the health of our hair at risk every time we do this. Please do not confuse this with simply making textured hair look tidy or day to day grooming.
Moisturizing, sealing and using a very soft brush will make our hair look neat but never give the level of sleekness I am referring to.

The problem is this, what is neat for afro textured hair (natural or relaxed) should not and cannot be what is neat by Caucasian or Asian hair aesthetics. Our hair must not be judged by those standards.
Put it this way, our hair is different and our neatness is different too. Our presentable is not their presentable

Understanding this may just help a few ladies stay away from the excess or daily use of edge control products combined with a very firm brush.

It may help a lady with less than one inch of new growth put the relaxer down for a few more weeks. (this may not apply to pixie cuts but that is a story for another day).

It may help a few women stay away from having their in crazy tight buns and ponytails with so much tension and gel that their afro hair which is big and poofy in its true state becomes completely flattened.
There is nothing wrong with such styles when done occasionally and with a lot of caution.

Done regularly and incorrectly, the above acts often leads to traction alopecia and other types of hair loss which many ladies do not fully bounce back from depending on its severity and the extent of damage sustained.

Before we try to “neaten” our hair, let us just pause to ask ourselves; is my hair actually rough/untidy or is just black hair being its textured self? Are we assessing the neatness by the correct standards? Or we still judging our beauty through the wrong lens.

I hope this post helps someone reading look at the hair and grade its neatness in a new light

Another post will be up in a few days so see you soon.



Learn | Change | Grow