{beauty booty} That’s why her hair’s so big…

by Rachel on July 8, 2010

I got my hair done yesterday, which made me think about both my hair history, and my history of explaining my hair. It really must be full of secrets, the way people ask me about it.

As much of a pain in the ass as it is to manage my hair, it might be an even bigger pain in the ass to manage people’s questions about my hair. White or black, apparently no one has ever seen hair like this before. They want all the details at the most inopportune times, and I can’t answer one question without telling the whole damn story.

So, for the record, for all eternity…here’s the story on the mane.

  • I first got my hair “done” when I eight years old and I’ve been getting it done approximately every eight weeks ever since. When I get my hair “done,” I mean I am getting a chemical relaxer, also known as the “creamy crack.”
  • Said crack is just applied to my roots, which grow in as thick and knotted as a gnarled tree.
  • I get annoyed when people say I should “just let it go curly” — my hair isn’t curly; it’s kinky. There’s a huge difference. I don’t have those pretty mixed-girl curls. I have a fro. And I’m not saying I’d never rock that some day, but I can’t “just let it go curly.”
  • The whole relaxing process takes about three hours from beginning to end (apply, wait, shampoo, sit under the dryer, style).
  • My hair usually looks a good half-inch longer after it’s done. Think of uncoiling a spring; my roots are like little springs. (When they are really bad, like they were yesterday, they totally have bounce.)
  • When I was a kid, I used to sit in the chair and cry because the relaxer would burn so much. I’ve toughened up a lot, but some days, if I’ve gone particularly long between sessions, it can get pretty bad.
  • Relaxing is a pretty scary process because if someone does it wrong, they could make you, like, bald. This is why I’ve only had three stylists in my entire life.
  • Actually, there was a fourth — the first month I was in NYC, I had to go somewhere to get it done and I was rather broke. One of the editors at Self said she got her hair done in Jersey but recommended a salon in the Bronx. She warned me that going to Dominican girls would be a different experience, and oh…it was. I sat there in complete and utter terror for two hours, hoping that the language barrier and the fact that I was totally out of my element and they were most definitely mocking me wouldn’t result in me ending up bald. Thank God I didn’t — and holy shit, was my hair straight.

  • I should only wash my hair once a week but usually I wash it twice a week (although I can stretch it out on occasion). On days I’m not washing, I just throw it in a ponytail and take a body shower. When I was a teenager I washed it every day and it was not too healthy.
  • Many white people don’t understand the whole “don’t wash your hair every day” thing, but you have to understand — it’s physically impossible for my hair to get greasy. It can be dirty, but it can’t ever be greasy.
  • I use the most oily shampoo ever. If I were to use typical white-people shampoo, I’d be left with a tangled, dry mess. My shampoo is like butter.
  • It can be more difficult than you might think to find said shampoo. And this is one of those times when I get really pissed off about race; people are all, “Racism doesn’t exist in this country” and then it’s like, Well, then why doesn’t Rite Aid carry my shampoo? Actually, one time a few years ago, my mom stopped at Rite Aid to pick it up for me and when she asked the clerk where it was, she was told they don’t have an ethnic hair care section. My mom said, “Oh, so you don’t think black girls need to wash their hair too?” before walking out.
  • Most white people’s hair styles better when it’s a little dirty — like when you’re getting an updo, they always say to come with unwashed hair. My hair, on the other hand, styles best when clean.
  • Actually, my hair styles pretty well all the time. It’s pretty coarse so it just does not move. Hairspray is for kicks.
  • My hair is thick but it’s relatively fragile, so I haven’t been able to get it to grow much longer than my shoulders thus far — although it’s in good shape now, so we’ll see!
  • The reason I hate getting my hair wet is because it’s such a pain to blow dry and style. I have to let it air dry for as long as possible (at least 30 minutes) and then it takes about ten minutes to blow dry and ten  to style. It’s such a chunk of my day.
  • I’ve never had braids or a weave. Also, when I was younger, I didn’t realize that every black celebrity has a weave so I just could not understand why my hair didn’t look like theirs. I’d totally get a weave but they are really expensive and I…never leave the house so there’s no point.
  • I can’t just wash and go. It pretty much just looks straight, but frizzy and blunt and just wrong…so I always have to use a styling tool, usually a flat iron. And once my hair has been relaxed, it can’t ever be naturally curly. I can’t do the whole diffuser thing.
  • It’s sometimes not possible to style it, which is what I can’t handle. If I, for example, were to be thrown in by some asshole at a pool party, I’d just be done. When I was younger, I used to feel weird telling white people, “Oh, hey, I don’t want to get my hair wet.” Now I’ve just owned it and I’m like, “If you ever fucking throw me in a pool, you’ll be dead to me.”

  • In sixth grade, my mom convinced me to cut all my hair off — like, above my ears, like a boy. “You’ll look like Halle Berry!” she insisted. WRONG. Have you seen how round my face is? Yeah, maybe if Halle Berry had a whacked-out “Oh hey, puberty!” body, glasses, and a gap in her teeth. I am seriously cringing just thinking about it.
  • My hair has broken off twice. The first time was when I was a sophomore in high school and it started to break because I dyed it really dark at home. (Sigh.) I had to cut it to my chin; I wept in the chair.
  • The second time was before my senior year of college when it broke off because I stopped eating. I didn’t cry this time; I just took it as a cue to start, you know, putting food in my body regularly. Even though everyone kept telling me how great I looked, I never felt as pretty or as confident with the bob and I realized I’d never choose my ass over my hair again.

  • I’m not one of those girls who loves having people play with her hair. I really can’t stand it.
  • When I was a kid, other kids were always asking if they could touch it. I went along with it, in the same way little kids will show each other their private parts. Like, Sure, what’s the big deal? Now, I suspect, people still want to touch it, but they know better than to ask.
  • Guys don’t ask — they just go for it in bed, thinking I’ll think it’s part of the act. You think I can’t tell the difference between a totally-in-the-moment-hair-pull and a I’m-such-a-white-boy-and-I’ve-been-wondering-what-black-people-hair-feels-like-forever grab? Um, I can.

And, in conclusion, that’s my report on why I don’t have shower sex!

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dori July 8, 2010 at 7:59 am

I am breaking my “no commenting from work” rule because I really have things I need to say. First, I love this post and I love you. You know I go through trial and tribulations with my own hair, having a jew fro, which was REALLY cool for my dad in the 70s but not so cool for me at puberty when my silky hair turned brittle. I got the same chemical treatment as you when I was in high school so I know exactly what you are talking about. Now as you know I do Japanese. Anyway, some questions:

Have you ever considered Japanese or non-formaldahyde Keratin straightening? Because they would both solve your wash and go problem and you wouldn’t have to damage your hair with a flat iron. I particularly think the Keratin would be perfect for you because it just fades out slowly and then you get it redone, whereas the Japanese has to GROW out which causes roots.

I know you use an oily shampoo, but have you ever tried a No Poo? It is a gentle cleanser that has no sulfates, which is what dries out the hair (because, uh, it is in dish soap). No poos (hehe) are very moisturizing and made for coarse hair.

Have you ever tried ditching the shampoo and washing your hair with conditioner? Another black girl/jew fro white girl secret. Many quality conditioners (Silicon/sulfate free ONLY) do a fine job washing the hair if you rub it in like a shampoo, rinse, and then go about using it as conditioner after like normal.

Are you a member of the NaturallyCurly forums? Some good stuff there.

HAHAHAHAHA the “in conclusion” was bril.


2 Dori July 8, 2010 at 11:02 am

Me again. CommentLuv doesn’t work from my work comp so hello from the blackberry. I want my .05 seconds of fame.


3 Rachel @ Working Out Wellness July 8, 2010 at 8:12 am

Hahaha, you’re hilarious! I think everyone has a tough time with their hair, and we always want what we don’t have. I hate that I HAVE to wash my hair daily or it will look a greasy, hot mess. My hair is basically a homeless person’s ‘do before I shower each day. And I just realized I spent 7 hours each week just getting ready. Geez.


4 Julien July 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I’m the same way. I have this insanely flat, blond, straight hair that NEEDS washing about every 18 hours or else it turns into an oil slick. And my hair doesn’t curl either. It just lies there like a sick dog. Everybody thinks they have the secret to making my hair stay curly, like they are the only people in the world who know about this magical hair spray stuff that I’ve never tried. They go after my hair with curling irons and mousse and it looks great for about 20 mins until the curls fall out and my hair reverts into its natural form. And then they tell me how I shouldn’t wash my hair everyday…. yeah, because I love the homeless look.


5 Maya July 8, 2010 at 8:22 am

Have you sen the documentary abot hair by chris rock? It talks about everything you mention in this post and so much more. I can relate a little as I have very curly hair, which I’ve only let loose these past few years. I second the comment on using mainly conditioner and limiting shampoo usage. It’s helped me a lot. Straight haired girls don’t understand that curly hair just isn’t as greasy and doesn’t need as much shampoo application. Anyway, maybe you should just print this post and keep it in your purse for anyone who starts asking too many questions about your hair! Excellent conclusion!


6 Kim July 8, 2010 at 8:28 am

I cosign EVERYTHING Dori just said. I’m black with natural hair, and my hair has grown the longest it’s ever been in my life since I let the relaxer go. It was really causing my already-brittle hair to become even more brittle and dried out. Best beauty decision I’ve made – hands down! Now, I do wear it “curly” on occasion but wash-n-gos cause more tangles & headaches than they’re worth. I completely get the whole “my hair doesn’t curl” thing. I wear braidouts or twistouts (which give the illusion of curls) and co-wash (with a cleansing conditioner) twice a week. I use a non-sulfate shampoo approximately every other week, sometimes sooner if I’m doing a lot of cardio regularly.

Lastly, naturallycurly.com is a godsend and a place to learn tips from people with hair just like you. There are other sites, but that ones seems to be pretty cool, and fortunately, is not flooded with natural hair nazis.

Any questions, feel free to email me!


7 shelby @ eatdrinkrun July 8, 2010 at 8:30 am

I can’t entirely explain why, but I loved reading this. :) And I’ve, like, filed it away under “information that’s good to know” even though we are really unlikely to ever be faced with shower sex, or even a pool party for that matter. :)


8 Dave July 8, 2010 at 8:33 am

I’m sure I’m one of the few boys who read this post in its entirety, and I’m certain I now know more about black girls’ hair than any other white boy.
I will promise you, if the opportunity ever comes along to grab some black girl’s hair in bed, I’ll try not to be so clueless.


9 Jenny July 8, 2010 at 8:38 am

Consider yourself lucky- I just washed and styled my hair and I already feel as if it is losing it’s style!


10 sarah @ syrupandhoney July 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

Even though I can’t relate, I thorougly enjoyed reading this post! And that last one is just the cherry on top, seriously. One thought…I know a lot of white people who are starting to wash their hair less (I wash twice a week and have switched to baking soda with an apple cider vinegar rinse…I also treat my hair with coconut oil), so hopefully some of that weirdness from others about not washing your hair every day will diminish.


11 Anne Bender July 8, 2010 at 8:44 am

Oh, wow, Rachel. I may never complain about my hair again (and I’ve been threatening to shave my head for more than 20 years now). I do get the not washing every day thing. Worst thing ever for non-straight hair. Another worst thing is high humidity. While I was in Florida last month I noticed my hair would expand even if I didn’t step foot outside.

Thanks for posting about this. I am now convinced I must try no poo. It really can’t hurt, can it?


12 Lauren July 8, 2010 at 10:39 am

“….I realized I’d never choose my ass over my hair again. ”

How true is this!!?!!!!


13 Eunice July 8, 2010 at 10:45 am

Hair talk is no joke! No matter what kind of hair you have, there is always something to say/complain about. When I turned 12, kinky curls started growing out the side of my head. My hair was straight, and then a few months later it wasn’t anymore. I still have weird straight hair underneath my curls. They never curled up for some reason.

I don’t use relaxer, but if I want to blow dry it straight, it takes 1 1/2 hours. And with this summer weather, it’s totally not worth it. I can’t style and go either so I feel your pain. I’d look like a chia pet.


14 Eunice July 8, 2010 at 10:47 am

I meant “wash and go”, obvis.


15 ZenLizzie July 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

The part about guys grabbing your hair in bed reminded me of that Chris Rock documentary about hair, and guys not being allowed to grab at girls’ weaves during sex. Honestly, I wish I could make a “don’t touch my hair during sexy times” but I need to come up with a good reason other than that it is distracting. Maybe I’ll just start telling them they are going to pull my weave out, even though I clearly have lame ass white-girl hair.
From one leo to another, I understand having an epic hair history. I blogged about mine when I first started blogging, but mine was more about poorly self inflicted haircuts and color.


16 Rachel's Mom July 8, 2010 at 11:02 am

Best line:

“If you ever fucking throw me in a pool, you’ll be dead to me.”


17 Bess July 8, 2010 at 11:18 am

Man this is a post I can get behind, especially since like Dori, I am blessed (cursed?) with a Jew fro and also resort to Japanese straightening.

People always say to me “don’t you miss your curls?” or “wouldn’t you like to be able to wear your hair either way?” and the answer is always a resounding NO! I never had “good curly hair” no matter how much mousse I used or teasing done with a diffuser.

I am pleased to report that I just got my hair did yesterday and fun as the female Bret Michaels looks is for about a week, I couldn’t be more excited to take all of my head scarves, hats, headbands and scrunchies out of rotation!!!


18 Clarice July 8, 2010 at 11:56 am

Ahh it’s so refreshing to read the words of what it’s like to have Halfie hair without having to type them myself. I have vivid horror filled memories of getting my hair done for the first time. My Aunt (on the Black side) just thought she could take me to her salon and they would handle it. I had scabs in my head for weeks. I’ve let my hair “go curly,” aka into a fro, over the last few years. I think I am really ready to come back to the creamy crack because, right now, my hair is driving me crazy. I live in New Hampshire though, so I will be doing it myself. Enjoy your perfectly relaxed straight hair while it lasts. Don’t you hate that first workout after you gotten your hair done, knowing it’s going to ruin everything.


19 Tara July 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Man Rachel, great post, but I think I’m loving your mom for pointing out THE best line. It gets right to who you are and you’re balls out, DBR, get your hands off me.

It’s how I’m also loving the way your new man isn’t afraid to drop bombs about his wife reading your blog. DAMN…those are people that get it!


20 Trinidad Pena July 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I really love this post. I’m a curly girl, so I completely understand the not washing your everyday. If I did that my hair would fall out! Have you tired No Poo or Low Poo by DevaCurl? It does of great job of cleansing without stripping your hair. It took me so long learn to style my hair because it was such a mixed bag that no one new how to deal with it.

I agree: Best line: “If you ever fucking throw me in a pool, you’ll be dead to me.”
Ha! I’ve felt that way so many times. My hair isn’t wash and wear! Although I don’t have to blow dry, it takes a substantial amount of time to section, apply product, twist curls and scrunch before I can look like something other than the bride of Frankenstein.


21 Kendra July 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm

My hair is a total hot mess and I love it. Sometimes I feel like the only girl in the world who actually loves my hair but I just do! Today it’s totally straight because I got it cut and the stylist decided to straighten it for me. It took like an hour and it’s so so not me. I have this strange combination of super fine but curly hair. It only curls when it gets long and it also gets super fluffy.

The straight sophisticated look just isn’t working for me today because I’m just not that girl.


22 Sari July 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I completely feel you on difficult hair and i’m white, lol, although i swear my hair is actually black. washing your hair totally makes sense when it takes an hour plus to straighten and mine does. I worst thing about doing my hair is thinking about all the things I could be doing. How does your hair not get sweaty when you work out?


23 sari July 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm

OOPs! it’s me again and i’m not sure if i’m thinking incomplete thoughts but i missed some words in my post above!

I meant to say, “washing your hair once a wk totally makes sense when it takes over an hour to straighten!” And also, “i think the worst thing…”


24 eve July 8, 2010 at 2:12 pm

this was amazing.
mind blown.
you are such a poignant (SAT word, homie) writer hahah. witty n’ whatnot ya know?

part of my JOB is reading blogs and this made my day.
you sound like you take really good care of your hair…me on the other hand…. DEFINITELY wrecked it, so i’m rocking a fro now!


25 Bridget@PavementandPlants July 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I read this quickly in the morning and I thought your mom said you’d look like Harry Potter, not Halle Berry and I was like Rachel, why would you want to look like Harry Potter?! However, I just went back and realized it was just my rushing around 7 AM brain.
My mom also convinced me to chop off my hair in 6th grade. Then proceeded to stick two butterfly clips and curl the ends. I still cringe. I have very dull boring flat fine hair. I didn’t know what I looked like with long hair at my thinner weight so I tried growing it out. Turns out I feel better with short hair. Just because people think long hair is sexier doesn’t mean I feel sexier with it. I get my hair cut by students at institutes (Aveda in Ann Arbor was my favorite!). I know most people are terrified, but they want to impress their teacher, they really take their time, and they need the practice.
When I went off to college, my mom didn’t say don’t drink or do drugs or have sex. She just said “Don’t dye your hair.” And I haven’t!


26 Freddie July 8, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Oh my, from one creamy-crack-dependent mixed girl to another, thank you for writing these words:

I get annoyed when people say I should “just let it go curly” — my hair isn’t curly; it’s kinky. There’s a huge difference. I don’t have those pretty mixed-girl curls. I have a fro. And I’m not saying I’d never rock that some day, but I can’t “just let it go curly.”

WORD. The way you wear your hair is your own choice. I wouldn’t rock a mohawk, but I would never tell someone who wears one to grow their hair out…Anyways even if I didn’t relate so hard to this post, I would still think the writing is amazing for its candor and its humour.


27 emily July 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm

This was hillarious in general, but that last line about white boys and mid-sex hair grabs seriously made my life because it was so funny!!!


28 Amy @ amyBITES July 9, 2010 at 12:19 am

This post is so informative! It’s interesting—I’m 100% white and yet I identify with a lot of these issues. My hair is insanely thick and it’s really hard to manage. I also can’t wash my hair every day—I do it 2 to 3 times a week and most people think I’m crazy! I try to explain to them that it’s actually better and builds up your hair’s strength and natural, healthy oils. When people complain they have thin, weak hair that gets greasy easily, I tell them to stop washing it every day and it’ll resolve itself in no time, but they look at me like I have a third boob. It’s nice to have validation!

Also, every stylist I’ve ever had (every three or four months since childhood) puts one hand on my hair and says, “Omg GIRL, you’ve got some HAIR!” It’s like, “Yes, I’m aware. It grows out of my head.” It’s slightly irritating.


29 Elise July 9, 2010 at 6:31 am

I love love love this post. I have freakishly curly hair that can’t be straightened without serious chemicals involved (and yes yes yes I’ve tried EVERY product and tool known to man). I HATE when people touch my hair. They pet me as though I’m some nappy poodle. I don’t ever want straight hair though, and I generally refuse to straighten it because I’m afraid that people will like me more with straight hair which means that they will not love the true Elise who has a curly-haired personality. Although part of me does wish that I had hair that guys could touch while we’re fooling around without me thinking “YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE IT FRIZZY” or them thinking “Shit shit, my hand is stuck in her hair.”


30 Chandra (@ShiftC) July 10, 2010 at 6:23 am

I made my white boyfriend watch Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” to get a better understanding of a soul sistah’s “bad hair”. Going natural isn’t for me. I’ve never had a relaxer, and tend to wash/wear gel, or press/curl. I identify with this post on so many levels, and I’m making my boo read this post for the last line. DITTO.


31 Erica July 10, 2010 at 4:40 pm

This is the best thing I’ve ever read.

Because it’s SO TRUE. I’m not half black, I am full black (well, with like % here and there of different races, but no one could guess that) and all of these things are so true. About the relaxer, about the washing hair thing, about not wanting to get my hair wet. Also, I’ve heard that about Dominicans and hair.

Also, I won’t lie, I totally have shower sex with a shower cap on. My boyfriend (white) thinks it is funny but it doesn’t ruin the moment, so you could totally do that…if you feel like the boy will get it, then it’ll work out.

Also, weaves are so bad for your head, no matter if you get glue or sew in. I learned this the hard way.


32 Rachel July 10, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Sex with a shower cap on!??! OMG. I’m forwarding this to my bf immediately.


33 Stephanie July 10, 2010 at 7:08 pm

I really want to be friends with Erica because of the sex with a shower cap. Why haven’t I thought of that?! And I recently watched Good Hair too. I seriously need to make everyone in my family watch it.

I used the get the creamy crack for years, but then stopped because 1. I was laid off and broke and 2. I’ve never had a stylist I liked. There are plenty of good stylists in NYC, but most have attitudes and I don’t want to deal with that while I’m getting my hair done. Also, at Dominican salons some women love to talk shit about you in Spanish, assuming you’ll have no idea what they’re saying. I never called them out on their BS; I just stopped going.

Now I just wash it 1-2 times per week and blow-dry it straight so it looks like this: http://bit.ly/bGSJI1. Sometimes I get blowouts from Dominican salons if I’m feeling lazy. I just learned to invest in VERY good dryers.

Also, I hate when people touch my hair almost as much as I hate getting my hair wet. Eesh!


34 Chanelle October 7, 2010 at 2:40 pm

God I love you… EVERYTHING you said is soooooooooooooo truuuuuuuuue. I really actaully think we’re related ;-)


35 Dani @ Ok, Dani May 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Sucks that kinky is a bad thing to you. But either way I agree w/ you on the racism thing. You know, if you want curls you can simply texlax your hair instead of fully relaxing it every 8 weeks. That way you don’t have to fry the shit outta it with a flat iron and you can wash n go and have curly awesomeness on your head instead of frizzy blunt ish.

PS to all white folk reading, yes, you CAN wash “kinky” hair more often than weekly and it will be healthy and normal, and black folk’s hair can get greasy.
PS 2 If you deep condition regularly and style w/o direct heat all the time it’s WAY better for your hair and it’ll grow long and healthy and be able to be washed more often.


36 Vanessa September 18, 2011 at 7:13 am

1) What kind of shampoo do you use?
2) Have you tried Wen? If not, you should no drying properties and the hair gets clean. It works! Also try Ojon treatments.


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