I stopped chemically relaxing my hair four years ago. Since then, I’ve gone from donning a straight, honey-blond, pixie cut, to wearing a sizable, dark brown, lush Afro. What's also changed is that I went from being a frequent consumer of expensive hair services to homegrown, do-it-yourself stylist.
A bit of background: I'd gone to professional hairstylists for 13 years -- since I was 10. There were times when I left my hair care completely up to them, like when I had the high-maintenance pixie and didn't even own shampoo because I never had to wash my hair outside of appointments. All that changed when I decided to ditch my relaxer and, subsequently, my salons.
I went from not knowing what conditioner was used on me to researching and handpicking every single item that touched my scalp. When it was time to chop off the remaining six inches of straight ends to let my kinky hair grow freely, I cut them myself. After the painstaking (and sometimes hideous) process of juggling two starkly different hair textures (straight and nappy) for months, there was no way I’d hand over the cutting honors to anyone else. I was my own hair expert.
Nursing my hair and scalp back to health after years of heat damage and chemical scalp burns was a long, solo journey -- a true labor of love -- and I didn't trust anyone else to take as much care as I did. My skepticism of “professionals” was justified when a dear friend of mine had her beautiful kinky hair texture destroyed by a stylist whose flat ironing tools were too hot. Her aggressively straightened hair wouldn’t revert back to its original state even after she’d washed it several times, and she had to cut off the burned hair and start all over again. I was traumatized for her.
Still, I took a leap of faith last year when my ends were screaming bloody murder and in need of a trim. Plus, I wanted to do a length check to see how long my hair had grown since my chop. I booked an appointment with the stylist who masterminded my pixie cut and hoped for the best.
I didn't last 24 hours with straight hair.
By morning, I was so consumed with anxiety thinking that my hair was losing its natural curl pattern by the minute, that I jumped into the shower and doused my head with water. I breathed a sigh of relief as I felt my hair shrinking and curling back to normal. I didn’t emerge unscathed, though. A chunk of hair above my left ear remained straight and I had to cut off the damage. It was small enough to go unnoticed, but I took it as my hair’s way of saying, “NEVER FORGET.”
Fast forward to today -- I’m at a crossroads. There’s a crop of New York City salons that specialize in natural black hair (like Hair Rules and Khamit Kinks), and I'm tempted to try one out. For one, trimming my own hair has been dreadful, and I've not fully mastered the back-of-the-head situation. And since I never straighten my hair, this means that I’m cutting while curly. I can get away with it since my Afro disguises the inconsistencies in length, but I am truly nervous about what a year of self-trimming really looks like.
Secondly, I'd love a professional hair assessment. Do I over-moisturize? Is my scalp healthy? Is the amount of hair I lose with each wash/detangle normal? Does conditioning my hair with raw eggs really deliver a protein fix? These burning questions need answers.
What do you guys think? Should I get over my fears and give professional salons another try? Or should I adopt the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality and leave my hair alone?