All Articles Tagged "flat iron"
“You know better than to be walking around with your head lookin’ like that.”
“Why do you want your hair to look all wild and wooly like that?”
“You can’t go up there with them White folks lookin’ like that.”
“You need to comb that mess.”
“Why don’t you straighten it and part in on the side and tuck it under?”
Nice little drive-by of insults, huh? Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, right?
This is what I came home to on summer breaks from college. Back then, I was a cowardly little thing, so, to avoid the ridicule I would either pull my afro back into a tight neat bun or just give the fight all the way up and straighten my hair until I got back to my safe haven of self-expression: college.
The comments didn’t bother me as much as the fact that this outright dislike for my natural hair was coming from the mother who expressly forbade my sister and me to get relaxers in our adolescence. Now, in my adult years, they were scolding my exploration of my God-given, naturally-grown kinks. Er? My mother had a huge afro in her twenties! Either way, my full head of curly hair wasn’t something she wanted to see out and about.
Let me back up to the 6th grade. I hated my hair. My mother kept my hair blown out in three or four braids and she stood by her decision to keep my hair chemical-free, citing complete baldness as a sure thing if I got a relaxer at that age. To an 11-year-old who is getting bullied every day by the other little black girls – all of whom HAVE relaxers – those lectures went in one ear and right out the other. I cried. A lot. I changed my hair at the bus stop. I developed a detrimentally frequent relationship with handfuls of thick, slick grease and any form of intense direct heat I could get my hands on: an old school, set-it-on-the-stove-till-it-smokes hot comb; a rusted, gold curling iron that left more burn marks on my ears and neck than it straightened my hair; a blow dryer with the standard fine-toothed comb attachment that when raked through my thick kinks, murdered my scalp, but left my hair LAID. At least until I’d sweat or take a bath. Then those little curly Qs would pop up all over in a frizzy mess. At one point with angry and frustrated tears in both eyes, I grabbed a severely rusted pair of industrial-sized seamstress’s scissors, sat behind the couch and cut off my wildly frizzy bangs, right down to the scalp. My mom freaked, but still no relaxer.
Granted, I know the ‘no-relaxers’ policy saved my hair and maybe it was easier for my mother to fire up a hot comb or plug in a blow dryer, but what was I learning in that process? Though she didn’t believe in putting a relaxer in my head, she felt that straight hair was and is the “right” way to wear my hair. I took this standard and internalized it. Yes, I was told by my mother that I had ‘good hair,’ but if my hair was ‘good’ then why wasn’t a pony puff or full ‘fro ever acceptable? Without realizing it, for years I believed that my freshly washed frizzy curls were “nappy,” ugly and in need of manipulation. Not because my mom TOLD me they were but because she SHOWED me they were by praising the “straighter” versions of my hair and shunning the curlier. Straighten it, part it on the side and curl it under. THAT’S the ticket.
In the end, I was more comfortable in my natural hair at college than at home. I didn’t want to fight my hair anymore. I wanted to embrace it. I wanted to make it work–and I did. My ‘fro became my trademark so much so that my friends and the PROVOST OF THE UNIVERSITY called me “Puff Puff.” It was hilarious back then, but it speaks volumes now. Something I had feared and deemed ugly – others loved and embraced. The old slavery time stigma of ‘good’ hair versus ‘bad’ hair had reached into my family and I never even recognized its grasp until now. Just a few weeks ago my sister, mother and cousin made me relax their hair. I might have been less reluctant to do it if I was certain that they had no complex about their own hair and that they just didn’t have the time to dedicate to natural hair care, but each of them sees their natural hair as ugly in some sense. That saddens me, but I’ve accepted that not everything is for everybody. Straight hair is no longer my standard of beauty. Well-maintained hair is, no matter what that looks like. I see the beauty now in what my hair naturally is. However, I’m careful not force my new views of black hair on my family. All I can do is what fits me.
The straight, “side part under” may have been the safe thing to do back in the day, but today is a new day and I am bold. I’m redefining ‘beautiful,’ ‘acceptable,’ and ‘correct,’ for myself. Does my mother like it? Not always. Every now and then she’ll tell me to “Do something with that mess,” and I shrug it off. I’ll keep my twist outs. I got a taste of freedom and I’m not going back. No shade to the faithful creamy crack users – do you. But for me? I had to lose the hold my family’s warped perception of black hair had on me and interpret my hair and my image for myself. The feeling is unparalleled and so is the growth – both internally and atop my head.
La Truly is a Natural-haired, late-blooming Aries with lots to say. Her writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. Armed with the ability to purposefully poke fun at herself La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and positive change. Check out her thoughts/jokes/rants on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and her young women’s empowerment blog: www.hersoulinc.com.
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If you’re on Facebook long enough, you’re bound to find something to pique your interests, whether it’s ratchet, enlightening, inspirational or disturbing, something will catch your attention. And today I just so happened to stumble upon a very disturbing image.
The picture, which was originally linked to a post on Green and Gorgeous , is that of a baby less than five months old, whose hair has been straightened. From the brief correspondence, we can’t tell whether this baby’s hair was relaxed, flat ironed or hot combed. But whatever method this parent used, the fact that he/she straightened a five month old’s hair, borders on a Child Protective Services violation. As Jennae Petersen of Green and Gorgeous mentioned:
… Relaxers. Freaking. Burn. I say this from years of experience that started when I was in third grade. And babies have tender, sensitive scalps, so I imagine that putting relaxer on an infant’s head for more than a minute or two would result in burning. Also? Hot combs. Freaking. Burn. I can still remember, at age 5 or 6, cringing in my aunt’s kitchen whenever the hot comb got anywhere near my neck or ears. I remember how terrible it burned when my aunt’s hands slipped. I remember the smell of my hair burning. And this is when I was old enough to sit still for the process. If a hot comb was used on this baby, do you really think she was able to sit still while it was being done?
Thankfully, the child looks fine but this business of straightening an infant’s hair was dangerous and reckless to say the least. One uncoordinated, infant-like turn, squirm or slide could have been catastrophic. This baby would have had a burn on her face or scalp, all because her parent wanted her hair straightened.
At 5 months your priorities should be eating, letting somebody know when your diaper needs to be changed, trying to get people to pick you up, growing, playing and sleeping. That’s really about it. A 5 month old just shouldn’t have to sit through a hair straightening session.
Maybe the hair straightening was just the action of a bored parent–which is a whole other problem. But most likely, the straightening of this hair was trying to achieve some type of beauty standard. In which case, I fear that type of messages this girl will receive as she starts to further process the actions of her guardians. Before this infant was able to speak, walk or feed herself, her parent has told her that her hair is a priority and must be straightened, even at the endangerment of her safety.
For the record, I’m natural and I fully believe in health benefits of forgoing the use of texture-altering chemicals. However, I also believe, wholeheartedly, that a woman, or even young lady, should be able to choose how she’s going to wear her hair. As a child who had a relaxer at 5 years old, I wasn’t given that choice. It didn’t matter at all at five. But at 18, when I decided to cut the perm out of my hair, I wondered how my hair experiences would have been different if I’d never had a perm. Would I have learned how to swim? Would I have had to worry about breakage? Who knows, but if drastic hair decisions like whether or not to apply a relaxer had waited until I was old enough and mature enough to make them, perhaps I would have chosen something different. And that’s an opportunity I fear this parent is robbing this baby of already, at five months.
Some will argue that this is just hair and really not that deep. That’s partially true, hair itself is not that deep but the way we feel about our hair–whether it grows from our scalp, someone else’s or is manufactured in a lab–and how our hair makes us feel about ourselves is very important. It’s is a form of self expression, a source of beauty and for a lot of women, a form of self acceptance. Hopefully, these parent(s) aren’t teaching their daughter to devalue her hair, as it grows out of her scalp before she learns that as a baby, girl and woman, she’s so much more than that.
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My journey to the promised land of natural hair has been a path paved with many trials and errors, shampoos, conditioners, creams and oils. As I am learning to embrace and celebrate my natural hair in all its coil-y glory, I still like to wear my hair in a sleek, straight bob every now and then.
Enter my two BFFs: Hot Comb and Flat Iron.
I wasn’t always on good terms with the hot comb, having suffered scalp burns and trauma caused by many a styling ordeal during my childhood. Over the years, as hair styling techniques advanced and electric hot combs with heat settings became available, I let the hot comb back into my life, albeit slowly. Not knowing the tricks of the trade, I’ve singed myself and my hair more times than I care to remember.
Since I began my hair transition three years ago, I found myself relying more and more on my flat iron. Not knowing what to look for or the best way to use it to get my roots super-straight made styling my hair difficult. Still, I gave it a good ol’ college try and ended up watching my hair break, strand by strand. I assumed the breakage was caused by the heat on my hair.
What I didn’t know was that the kind of flat iron I was using was making matters worse. Over the years, I’ve amassed quite the collection of ceramic, “high-low” two-setting flat irons. I have black ones, blue ones, broken ones…you name it, I probably have it. According to Johnny Wright, SoftSheen-Carson artistic style director and celebrity stylist, the best flat irons are titanium-plated with variable heat settings. Wright recommends the Corioliss Baby SXE. It’s a smaller flat iron, because “it’s small enough to allow you to get as close to the hairline as possible without burning the scalp.”
Ceramic irons were once thought to be good. But if you look at the surface of a ceramic iron under a microscope, the surface was ridged like an orange peel. And that surface would cause friction on the air. The titanium-plated flat irons have a much smoother surface, and can straighten the hair in one pass, rather than the two or three passes it would take with a ceramic flat iron.
Don’t throw away that hot comb just yet. It still has its purpose. The hot comb is good for straightening hair around the perimeter of the head “to give the hair a straighter finish,” says Wright.
All this time I had it wrong. I would use the hot comb to straighten my roots, and then comb it through the hair for good measure (and torture). Then I would go over my hair with the flat iron over and over again until my hair was relatively straightened, or I got tired, whichever came first.
Wright recommends when you wash and blow-dry your hair, go ahead and set the iron on the highest setting your hair can handle. For those, like me, who flat iron their hair every day, turn down that flat iron!
Follow Kimberly Shorter on Twitter at @KimberlyWriter.
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A child is sat down. She is screaming. Why is she being forced to do this? It burns her scalp. It really burns her scalp. After this procedure, she is inserted into a high-temperature contraption. It is hot. She is crying. After being removed from the contraption, more heat is applied to her scalp. An irritated individual assures her that sobbing will only drag out the process. Finally, after many tears and many burns, the procedure is done. Look in the mirror, little girl. You are not hideous anymore. Smile — your hair is now straight.
For the full story, visit BlackVoices.com.
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By Cynthia Alvarez
If you’re wondering how you can keep an expensive weave up without having to struggle with it too much, it’s important to know how to do the following: to prep and care for your real hair before you put the weave on it, to find the right type of hair to use, the best way to style it without overdoing it each morning under the flat iron, and what you should do for your hair when it’s time to take that weave down. Got a few minutes? Check out these tips from celebrity stylist Cynthia Alvarez.
Heat training is a process where you loosen your kinks with the gradual use of direct heat. In reality, it is heat-damaged hair because your hair will not revert or shrink up as it used to. The benefits of heat-trained hair include experiencing less single strand knots and tangles, and as a result, you will retain more length.
One of my fave YouTubers, Longhairdontcare2011, successfully heat-trains her tailbone length hair by blow-drying it—her once kinky texture is now more on the wavy side. She has been natural for eight years and uses her blow dryer once a month. As previously mentioned, it is a gradual process and not something you do overnight.
Check out her page to see videos of her journey, which include pictures of her hair before it was heat trained.
What’s your take on heat training? Is it something you would consider doing? Why or why not?
I love a good Dominican hair salon. I was first ‘put-on’ to them when I was an undergrad in DC. Girls on campus would wave their bouncy curls every witch way having us doobie-wrapped girls look like country bumpkins.