It has taken years for me to get to the place I am now. I first tried to go natural when I was eighteen but had no idea what products to use. My hair was always dry and because of my irritated scalp I was constantly washing and rinsing my hair and scalp to soothe the pain and itching I experienced. My natural hair care routine at that time incorporated extra virgin olive oil and sweet almond oil, I didn't know about anything else. I relaxed my hair a few times over a five year period always to go back natural. My last relaxer was July 2006 and I did my big chop September 2006 and haven't looked back!
The last relaxer I did was out of frustration after visiting a so called 'natural salon' in Toronto. I was natural at this point and had about 6 months of new growth. My scalp condition was awful which I later found out was seborrheic dermatitis, but later on that. I walked into the salon in the Yorkville area to have a wash and treatment. First, they knew little if any thing of how to care for natural hair. I was brave enough to go to the salon hoping to get help concerning my scalp. In the middle of my head the hair grows coarser and my scalp would be in so much pain that sometimes I felt I had to pull hairs out to stop it. It was so much pain at some points I thought I had an open wound on my head. My hair was much more shorter in the middle and in some spots it was nearly bald. I do think this is a result of years of relaxing beginning at age eleven which caused my hair follicles to become damaged and accelerate the development of my seborrheic dermatitis.
When the stylist saw the damage in the middle of my head he just was like "wow" and didn't give any counselling as to a plan to regenerate that section of hair or even ask questions as to what happened. I felt so bad but I stayed in the chair. At this point I knew it was all business and that they just wanted to get paid. What made it worse is that after my wash and treatment one of the stylist, a woman, asked me what I wanted to do for a style and I told her 'I don't know just do whatever you think will look nice.' She didn't do box braids, cornrows or cornrows with twist in a cute style, instead she did like 5 to 7 dooky braids for my entire head! I just wanted to leave, I couldn't even go outside with the jacked up 'hair style' she gave me, luckily I had my scarf with me that I covered it up ... crazy. Then when I got to the cashier to pay he started talking about how I have natural hair and natural hair is more money, *blank stare*. I told him I was quoted $25.00 and that's all I have to pay instead of the $35.00 he wanted to charge me. I paid the $25.00 went home and complained to my mom for like 2 hours. Within that week I relaxed my hair out of frustration. Now I was determined to know how to treat my hair. Relaxing my hair was done out of frustration and anger not at my hair but at the ignorance I dealt with concerning our hair. I thought if I conform than it will be okay but within a month all the relaxed hair in the middle of my head began to snap off just by merely touching it. My kynks wanted to take over and insisted on letting me know. I let every relaxed hair that wanted to snap off do so and in the mean time I went on the Internet and immersed my self in knowledge about caring for natural hair. I visited motowngirl.com (I discovered co-washing), roshini.net (hair styling and inspiration) which is now glamazini.com, curlmart (I discovered Qhemet Biologics! Yeah, yeah), Naturally You!, nappturality.com, naturalhaircareguide.com (in depth info on ingredients to avoid), I found all these sites by searching under natural hair, natural kinky hair, African American hair etc.
Within that same summer of 2006 I went to my dermatologist and finally got diagnosed as having seborrheic dermatitis. He prescribed me a steroid cream that worked wonders but again I re-evaluated using a steroid cream on my scalp, any form of dermatitis is a treatable condition that last for life and I couldn't picture myself using a steroid cream on my scalp for the rest of my life. I decided to take preventative steps by monitoring any products I used on my hair and scalp, anything that irritated my scalp went into the trash. I got rid of A LOT of shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, and oils. Sulfates will irritate a sensitive scalp so can ingredients found in many hair care products that we may over look. Even some organic products got thrown out or given away. I do a lot of product reviews but trust me when I say I do a lot of research concerning ingredients. As I say its all about trial and error and oh I haven't used my steroid cream for almost a year. My scalp is still sensitive in that area but is doing much better from two years ago.
Knowledge is our power, educate yourself on hair and scalp care. Be dedicated to this change and you will reap the results.