Relaxers: My First Perm Disaster

Goodbye Pretty Hair
Do you remember your first relaxer? I do. I was 9 years old. But up until then, I had happy, nappy hair. During the summer months, me and my sister ran around our neighborhood with big, fat, juicy nappy plaits in our hair. I think I got my first press at age five. After that though, both me and my sister only got our hair pressed during the school year. After school was out, we’d be nappy until the Sunday night before school started. My mom would alternate me and my sister. One week I got my hair washed and pressed, then the next week is was my sister’s turn. Actually, I’m really not sure when or how my mom fit herself into that schedule.

Then in the summer of 1969, my mom decided to do the Brady Bunch thing with her boyfriend. So he and his kids (two girls and one boy) and our family (two boys and two girls) all moved in together. So in addition to washing and pressing her own hair, mine and my sister’s hair, two additional heads were now in the mix. We ended up living next door to this lady that had a bunch of kids ranging from me and my sisters’ ages to all grown up. One of the older girls was a beautician. Their two youngest sisters were our playmates, and they both had perms. They had pretty hair. But really, I don’t think I thought too much of it in terms of my hair being like theirs one way or the other.

The above picture is me modeling my Easter outfit in probably 1967 or 1968. I had freshly pressed hair. I’m guessing that my hair was a good 10-12 inches long at that time. I didn’t have the longest hair in the house, but I had and still have the thickest. Everytime I see this picture, I drool at how long at thick my hair was back then. 

But apparently, there were other plans. Their beautician sister talked my mom into putting perm in my hair. Although my mom knew nothing about taking care of relaxed hair, she just had too much hair to keep up on a regular basis. So although, against her better judgement, she allowed the relaxer. I think she was envisioning the school year trying to keep five heads of hair washed, pressed and combed on a regular basis. So, I got my first and only child hood perm.

Well, the Brady Bunch arrangement didn’t work out. And by Christmas of 1969 all my hair was dry, brittle and broken off. I remember my mom pressing my new growth and gradually cutting the relaxed hair out. Shortly after that, I started taking care of my own hair. Although I never had another relaxer, my hair never grew back to its pre-perm length.

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Comments
15 Responses to “Relaxers: My First Perm Disaster”
  1. very fun writing — I have curly hair and have some “straightening” stories too.

    better to have hair in any shape, than NOT though

  2. nappyme says:

    Hi Joanne,
    Thanks for visiting Nappturology 101. I have to laugh…I’ll tell ya, hair in really, really , really horrible shape just takes your options from bad to worse or worst. On a couple of occasions in my life it probably would have been better to be bald and just wear a wig until the damaged hair grew out, which I did actually have to do one time. The little bit of hair I did have on my head one time in particular did ABSOLUTLEY nothing for myself esteem let me tell you.

  3. jazitones says:

    What I nice picture. I remember my perm days also, which was a nightmare for me as well. I know you remember Ultrasheen. Boy that was powerful stuff. Clean my hair out. LOL!

  4. Diane S. says:

    what do you think of Imus’ comments? 😦
    I agree with him that he has apologized enough: his name calling is what he really thinks!!! he is getting too old to filter his comments. It was weird situation. He is from a different generation.

  5. nappyme says:

    Hi Diane,
    Thanks for visiting NPP101. Since I’ve already written several lengthy posts on this topic, I’m not going to repeat myself here. But do feel free to click on my most RECENT POSTS in the sidebar at the right or the FRONT PAGE link at the top of the page.

    Except that I haven’t addressed his apology and since you asked, here’s what I think. Yes, he has apologized enough. Unfortunately, it’s just not good enough. People who don’t think this way don’t say such things. Or if you do think that way…you’re SMART enough not to say it. And people who are sensative to such things don’t even let those types of words creep into their vocabulary. For instance, I don’t use words like bitch, ho, cracker, spic, wetback or whatever…so they could never even slip out of my mouth to begin with. See what I mean?

    He’s been maligining blacks for years. There’s been public outcry from black for years and NOTHING has ever been done about it until now. Unfortunately, his apology is falling on deaf ears…just as it should. It, unfortunately for him, is too damn little too damn late. If he such a good person, let him find another outlet for himself and prove it there. But NBC cancelled his crap and so should CBS.

  6. Meranda says:

    yikes! Never grew back to that length!
    perms are scary stuff…

  7. nappyme says:

    ^^^Yes they are! LOL!

  8. I can’t say I remember my first relaxer…I’ve never gotten one before (and I don’t plan to), With the exception of one or two presses, I’ve been natural my whole life

    But it’s interesting to hear stories like yours, I’m glad you keep your hair the way it is like…hopefully more black women will see this and choose to do the same.

    I’m sorry to hear your hair never grew back to it’s pre perm length :S, but it looks great now so that’s the only thing that should matter 🙂 …I know quite a few girls who have that same issue and have been natural ever since…guess they learnt their lesson lol…

    Keep Writing, I enjoy reading this =]

    BW

  9. Dianna says:

    I am very interested in going natural. However, I would like to have the products to care for natural hair available to me. I’m located in a predominantly white area and a lot of the products mentioned are not local. I’ve used extentions in my hair for years and that has gone quite well. However, I’ve braided the edges of my hair to tight and have lossage there. I’ve been trying to find products that I can use to stimulate the growth, but nothing seems to working. I’ve put the extentions on hold for awhile…figuring my hair needs a break from them as well. I’ve been wearing wigs until I can find a product that would help my edges grow back. The products that I’m trying now are: Olive Oil Stimulating Cream, Dr. Miracle’s Hot Gro (Hair & Scalp Treatment Conditioner), Via Stimulating Gro Cream, Sulfur 8 (Medicated) and Doo Gro Stimulating Oil. I’ve massage the scalp, but nothing seems to be working. Extentions would help the transitioning go smoother, but the edges are to thin. Are there any suggestions?

    Searching the website for information on hair growth, I ran across a product called Diva Smooth. It’s a product used to manage natural hair. After applying this product to your natural hair, it allows one the option to flat comb the hair….given it the illusion of a relaxer. It’s supposed to be a all natural product. It can be found at blogs.janellebeauty.com. Has anyone heard of, or tried this product? If so, does it work?

    • nappyme says:

      Hi Dianna,
      Welcome to NPP101!
      Congrats on your decision to go natural. You’ve got quite a few concerns and questions so let me get right to them…

      am very interested in going natural. However, I would like to have the products to care for natural hair available to me. I’m located in a predominantly white area

      Many of the products that I mention can be purchased online as well. Walgreens.com. Just google practically any product you’re interested in and most likely they can be purchased online.

      I’ve used extentions in my hair for years and that has gone quite well. However, I’ve braided the edges of my hair to tight and have lossage there. I’ve been trying to find products that I can use to stimulate the growth, but nothing seems to working. I’ve put the extentions on hold for awhile…figuring my hair needs a break from them as well.

      Good that you put the extensions on hold. Sounds like they’ve caused you to suffer from traction alopecia, which is caused by continuously pulling your hair too tight until your follical can no longer produce any hair. Sometimes if you stop your bad hair care practices soon enough, your hair may start to grow again. But all too often, it becomes a permanent condition. At this point, I’m going to suggest that you go to a dermatologist so that you can be properly diagnosed. And in the meantime, you migh joining Nappturality.com and start frequenting the Alopecia forum to see what has been working for other women AND to get some support. Please be aware thought that Nappturality is a PRO NAPPY forum and members will not entertain any talk about relaxing, straightening or using any kind of heat altering technicques on your hair.

      Searching the website for information on hair growth, I ran across a product called Diva Smooth. It’s a product used to manage natural hair. After applying this product to your natural hair, it allows one the option to flat comb the hair….given it the illusion of a relaxer. It’s supposed to be a all natural product. It can be found at blogs.janellebeauty.com. Has anyone heard of, or tried this product? If so, does it work?

      Forgive me, you said searching the website for information, you ran across a product called Diva Smooth. I think you mean while searching the internet you ran across this information cause you certainly wouldn’t have found any such product or a product recommendation on my site. I only advocate using products to manage your hair in it’s natural state…not on managing nappy hair by using products to STRAIGHTEN it. I’m a PRO NAPP site as well and will never recommend texture altering products. Therefore, I can offer no advice on this product, AND I won’t approve any comments that offer advice on straightening techniques or products either as that would totally defeat the purpose of my blog. If you’d like advice on straightening products/techniques there are other sites on the internet where people will be happy to answer those types of questions.

      I hope this helps. Good luck on your journey.

      Take care and God bless,
      ~Nappyme

    • nappyme says:

      Hi Diana,
      Try ordering product online. Walgreens.com carries a lot products that you can use. Also, if you’re not already a member, try checking out Nappturality.com’s Alopecia forum. You’ll find lots of support and advice about your thinning edges.

      Don’t know anything about Diva Smooth as I don’t advocating straightening one’s hair.

      Good luck!

  10. fifi says:

    Hey, I liked your post, & sorry your hair never grew back to the pre permed length.

    I would like to say that I have very coarse nappy hair, to the point where nothing works, not even a press. Its so unattractive and sooo hard to manage. The only thing that works is a perm. I have been getting perms since is was about 6. An although my hair grew to a long length, and it never broke off ( probably because I always maintained it every chance I got). I would like to take another route instead of a perm. I have been using it all my life I don’t want to be dependent on it, (im 18). Because although my hair hasn’t broke n of or got damaged. I know its unhealthy. But since my hair is so nappy and coarse, I have been left with that only option. So my question to you and anyone else that can help me. How can healthy nappy free hair without using a perm. I will consider going auu natural. I just don’t want any naps. So if you or anybody can recommend me some products or anything it will be greatly appreciated

    Thank you, and have a nice day FiFi=)

  11. collisa wheeler says:

    i’m crying because just for me had change there perm and my little girl hair is falling out my daugthe hair was middle way of her back the new product that you all change it to is a bad perm and please change it back and i can’t afford to take her to the beauty shop i’m on a once a month income so please change it back to the old just for me i love that perm

    • nappyme says:

      Why not take this as an opportunity to let her hair grow back out natural instead of putting caustic chemicals in her hair and on her scalp every six weeks.

      Certainly something to consider. In the meantime, try doing some pure protein treatments on her hair. Aphogee and Nexxus Emergency are too really good ones. Follow the instructions on the bottle TO-THE-LETTER so as to avoid additional breakage. Protein will strengthen her hair and help stop the breakage. Do not use more than every two weeks. Protein can be very drying, and if you over use it you can defeat your purpose and again cause more breakage.

      Note: Not sure why you’d post a plea to the company on my website though. Consider going to the JUST FOR ME website, fill out a contact form, and lodge your complaint there.

      Good luck!

  12. Brittany says:

    Hey !
    Well About a month ago i decided to go BLONDE …, On Top of that i get perms every 4-6 weeks. But for the past 3months i haven’t permed my hair. I’ve Made The Decision to go natural. My hair is very nappy curly though. I really need advice on what are some good products to use. ? i usually wash my hair 2-3 times a week. Please HELP !!!

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