(Photo by Luizmedeirosph from Pexels)
Ladies, we now have access to many tools and information via the internet to help us make smart and educated choices when it comes to hair styles and hair protection. It is up to us to find the individual solutions we need. My devotion in starting Linda Christen Designs is based on providing women the opportunity to purchase head wear with satin and satin charmeuse linings and fun lifestyle options that can provide much needed hair protection and still accomplish the goal of looking good, as well as feeling fabulous from the inside out.
We should be very concerned about the health of our natural hair. The luxury of the weaves and lace frontal wigs have provided us the opportunity to transform how we look in an instant. We can create whatever look or mood we desire. We have more choices now to help create personal freedom. One choice is to embrace the authenticity and freedom of the natural and curly hair movement. This path takes special care and nurturing in order to keep the health of our hair at its optimal best.
For me, it has always been about freedom. Freedom to not worry about damaging my own hair, freedom to walk in the rain, freedom to exercise, freedom to look and feel the way I choose. Every option gives us the freedom to create who we feel like being. When we feel good about our hair, we carry ourselves with more confidence, our wardrobe changes, and we may even become more outgoing. The natural and curly hair movement is this: the freer we feel, the more we are able to connect with our true authentic selves.
Personally, I have been wearing my natural hair and weaves on and off for the last ten years or so. Sometimes, I like to give my hair a break and let it just sit. So, I will get a weave. I am not a fan of anything high maintenance and I have always regarded my own hair as unmanageable by me, myself and I. Generally, my rule of thumb is to get my hair professionally done every two weeks--no matter what--regardless if it’s a weave or my natural hair. There is another story in what I just stated; however, I will save that for another day.
For now, I’d like to share one cautionary true story of mine. My stylist braided my hair for a weave about ten years ago, and on this occasion, it was so tight at the nape of my neck that it was uncomfortable for me to sleep. In the morning, I woke up with a stiff neck. Even when I moved to turn or look at something, my neck froze up! And me, being the low tolerance pain person that I am, even called in sick to work. I was petrified. I was in tears. What was wrong with my neck? Was I in this excruciating pain from the tight braids or did I have a serious medical condition? I had never experienced this pain before, and I wanted out of it--pronto. The first thing I did was take ibuprofen; then I called my nephew, Christen, who was a resident at the time, and I told him what my symptoms were. He recommended that I get into a warm bath and lay my head back for a while.
I tried the bath and unfortunately the relief was only temporary. And being the over dramatic person that I am, when I called my boss to discuss a work matter that day, I broke down in tears when he asked how I was feeling. Here I am with a fierce, strong, capable, and confident persona at work. Now, in this moment, my alter ego was being shattered. So, my boss offers to send my assistant over to my house to take me to the emergency room. She drove an hour to come and get me. I could not move my neck without it snapping. I was really miserable.
We found an emergency room close to my home and I decided not to mention to the doctor that this could be from the tight braids in my weave. I didn’t think he’d understand—I didn’t want to have to explain what a weave is! And on top of that, he was a young handsome doctor, and quite honestly, I was too embarrassed about the entire situation.
The doctor told me he wanted me to take an x-ray to ensure there wasn’t anything serious going on and so there I am laying on a gurney in a hospital gown, getting an x-ray done, after spending seven hours the day before at the salon getting a weave out and put back in. When I think about it all, it just seems like so much effort to look and feel good! The results of the x-ray showed nothing serious. He gave me a prescription for muscle relaxers and after several hours I was able to move my neck normally again.
I texted my stylist to relay what had happened the next day and she took no responsibility. She texted back, “You must have slept wrong.” Excuse me? I thought, maybe I wouldn’t have slept wrong if I wasn’t in so much pain due to the tight braids that kept me from moving my neck normally! Sometimes there is just no sense in trying to find resolution with a stylist whose ego is too big to fit in the salon . . . yet, on the other hand, you adore her, and she has become one of your closest confidants—your therapist and your hair life line.
From then on, I did ask my stylist and all future stylists not to braid my hair too tight and I was very mindful moving forward. However, it just feels like something I shouldn’t have to say. Every time I have to say it’s getting tight or it’s hurting, I feel like I am telling my stylist something they should already know. My advice: be gentle on your hair follicles. I have a feeling, in fact, that they’re screaming from so much torture. I have read that braids do not have to be tight to be effective . . . maybe we should spread the word?
I have always left my edges out when getting a weave in order to avoid losing my edges. I have always had a bit of a receding hairline naturally. I inherited that from my father. Yes, what a great thing to inherit! So, this has been an ongoing concern for me all my life: weave or no weave. I wonder, what is happening now to the health of our hair due to tight braids, glued on lace fronts, wigs and some with combs that cause breakage to our hair, and the age-old relaxers. It’s all getting a bit out of control. Alopecia is becoming rampant with African American women because we are definitely damaging our hair follicles. Some of this damage is irreversible. Even young teenage girls are experiencing bald spots due to lack of awareness and education on these topics. They are getting weaves and wearing wigs and tight braids with no knowledge of how to protect and maintain the options they select.
So, what do we do? Honestly, we take matters into our own hands. We find a stylist that truly cares about the health of our hair and can provide us with knowledge on how to maintain it. This is the future for women who continue to wear weaves, lace fronts, any type of wig, links, clip-ons etc. We need our stylist to be equipped to assist us by keeping themselves educated and passing their knowledge on to us. Let’s face it, we’re not going to stop wearing weaves and lace fronts, so let’s do this the right way. We need to find a way to counteract the potential damage to our own hair so that one day we are not forced to wear weaves and wigs because we have no natural hair left on our heads and there are no other options. We want to keep our options open—that is our connection to the freedom we seek.
Some of the things I have learned along the way in order to avoid any future weave drama:
- Wash your hair properly with a weave. Don’t go long periods of time without washing your hair. Use sulfate-free shampoos. Rinse well to avoid residue build up.
- Make sure your braids are thoroughly dry after you wash in order to avoid your hair getting mildewed. If you don’t have a hair dryer, I would recommend washing your hair in the morning and letting it air dry all day. Then if you have a blower dryer, this could be another option at the end of the day to finish up and ensure your hair is dry before going to bed. This process worked for me very well.
- If you leave your weave in too long, your braids can start to form dreadlocks. Which means you can run the risk of having to eventually cut your braids off completely. I recommend that you keep your braids in no longer than three months at a time.
- Do not let your stylist or anyone braid your hair to tight. Find a stylist that understands the long-term damage it causes to hair follicles when too much tension is applied. We want a nice flat seamless look but not at the cost of hair loss.
- For those of you who like to wear wigs and lace fronts, find wigs that allow your hair to breathe. The glue on lace fronts should not damage our edges or our skin. The comb pieces in a wig or lace front can also break the hair right off—no friction at all is best for our hair.
- Do not sleep in your wig. Please don’t be so vain—take your wig off at night. Don’t be deceived by women on reality shows that have personal hair stylist to maintain their hair. You don’t see them at night when they go to sleep. They are most likely not sleeping with their wigs on and I guarantee they have some form of a satin scarf, bonnet, hair wrap or satin pillow cases when they go to sleep. So yes, with that said, get a beautiful bonnet or scarf, or slouch cap from Linda Christen Designs. Protect your head and look fabulous at the same time.
Temporary moments of glory are not worth the loss of our hair and the damage to our scalps. See my previous blog post: Wear a Weave Without Wrecking Your Hair.
We can look fabulous and still maintain the health of our hair. We need to ask more questions, research on our own, find a stylist who cares about the health of our hair and scalp, and stop settling for less. We need more educated stylists because it’s getting complicated out there. There’s a lot going on in the world of hair. We must evolve and we must take ownership in finding out how to take better care of our hair. The stylists and the companies creating hair products should evolve as well. Let’s spread knowledge wherever we can. Together we can make a positive difference in how we care for our beautiful hair.