The morning comes misted. A brisk nip is in the air. This is the perfect day to relax my hair.
With my head leaning forward at the weight of my massive afro, I take out the box of chemicals. I have been meaning to do this for a while now, but the weather was too hot. No, wait. It is not the heat. It is the humidity. Yes, this is what everybody says. The dreaded humidity had played havoc with my hair. Think of it as a bad frizz day - times ten.
Like a six-grade science project I’ve been slacking off at for the past three months, I open the box to make sure I have everything I need.
- Relaxer. Check.
- A creme activator. Why does that sound so naughty? Whatever. Check.
- Conditioner. Check.
- Orange Shampoo. Check.
- Gloves. Check.
- A wooden spatula that is actually a flat wide popsicle stick. Check.
- Instructions. Check.
Then I go through the list of things that I am suppose to have but wasn’t included in the box.
- Comb. Check.
- Petroleum Jelly. Now I know this post is starting to sound naughty. Oh well. Check.
- Towel or cape. Why? I’m not doing Dracula’s hair. Silly me. It’s for drying. Check.
- And a whole bunch of other stuff. Check if I feel like using it.
Now I come to the part of the instructions listing the warnings. Always fun to read, it tells me to follow the directions carefully to avoid skin and scalp irritation, hair loss, hair breakage, ear or eye injury. Then it goes on to say the product contains alkali (caustic) and may cause blindness. Oh, and the best part of the warning. The obvious part . . .
Hair is flammable. Keep hair away from sparks and open flame at all times.
Yeah, I kinda knew that already.
With no sane adults supervising me, I gleefully go to work mixing the chemical relaxer and creme activator. Then I slap it on, huge white globs dotting my dark hair everywhere. I smooth it in, then almost slap my head at my forgetfulness. I’m supposed to be timing how long this stuff is in my head. In too short, the strands will not relax. In too long, I BURN MY SCALP. I have had this happen before - at a salon. The stylist was so busy gossiping that she didn’t pay attention to the time. When I woke up the next morning, I had scabs all over my head without the help of open flames.
I look at the nearest clock estimating I have no time left since my head feels like it is charring inside an oven. I turn on the water, rinsing out as much as the chemicals that I can. Then I shampoo.
The world turns pink. Well, not the entire world but the relaxer does. I put the orange shampoo on the white relaxer and it turns varying shades of pink to let me know that there are still chemicals in my hair. I have to keep shampooing until the foam turns white.
So I rinse and shampoo. There is pink foam in the sink. I rinse and shampoo again. Pink foam in the sink. Rinse and shampoo. Still pink in the sink.
I’m fed up by now but there is not much I can do. I have to get those chemicals out of my hair. I am near tears in my frustration, until a big plop of white foam strikes the counter. It is white.
YAY! I rinse the shampoo out for the fifth time. It is a new world record. I’m usually good for at least three more rinses. In celebration, I treat my hair to a nice long conditioner, which means I forgot to time myself again. With strands almost dried out, I wash one final time. Then here comes the most complicated step in the process. The styling.
I brush my hair back and slip on a rubber band to make a ponytail.
Was it worth possible burns and blindness to relax my hair? Well, think of it this way.
Unrelaxed hair - A gigantic afro with birds nesting inside.
Relaxed hair - Strands are an actual 5 inches longer than before the process. The length is past my neck and a little below my shoulders. Wildlife must relocate . . . easier to clean up birdseed.
Time it took to relax hair? Estimated - 35 minutes. Actual - 1 hour and 19 minutes.
Conclusion: Shaving my head would have been easier.