Girl, You Need to Relax!


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Brown Girl Beauty Myths

"Girl, You Just Gotta Relax!" by Dre Brown

Chris Rock's 2009 documentary Good Hair introduced the world to the concept of "creamy crack," from the pet name one sista in the film gave her beloved chemical hair relaxer. Drugs don't necessarily come in pretty jars with gorgeous models on them, but the myth that achieving sure-fire silky straight hair requires chemically relaxing might make you think so.

Before my "nouveau natural" journey, I could have easily checked into my local relaxer rehab for an extended visit. I thought with my kinky roots nothing short of "no-lye" lightning bolt would smooth my edges and keep my "kitchen" (the nickname referring to the coarsest section of a sista's hair) neat and tidy. But, boy was I wrong!

To help me wipe this myth's slate clean, I enlisted the help of celebrity stylist and brown girl hair guru Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, who's blessed the tresses of Hollywood brown girls Kerry Washington and Sanaa Lathan, among others.

The natural hair movement surely hasn't lost momentum. But, with so many sistas still wanting the option to rock sleek and sexy straight looks, many are holding onto this myth for the sake of their style preference. They may mistakenly believe that foregoing a relaxer means taking on more work or settling for hair that's not as straight as they'd like. But Takisha affirms that there is a way women of color can figuratively have the best of both worlds -- the health and freedom of one's natural curls with the versatility of an easy switcheroo to straight.

"Chemical relaxing often depends on your lifestyle. I have a lot of clients who are busy professionals that insist on relaxing. Using a chemical is easy for the working woman. Less stressful," explains Takisha. But, she argues that treating natural hair and straightening non-chemically can be a worthwhile alternative. "Relaxing takes all the life out of the hair. Your hair is saying more with added body and fullness when it's natural."

So in lieu of a "creamy crack" 12-step program, what's a brown girl to do to satisfy a straight hair fix without her trusty chemical processing? Several alternative processing methods are out there. But, with controversy over the safety and pricey-ness of popular alternatives like Brazilian and Japanese hair straightening techniques, new all-natural methods continue to pop up on the market. Some of these boast the the long-term effects of softening a sista's curl or wave pattern over time, but often can't guarantee results.

Takisha stands behind natural sistas investing in a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioning regime followed by precise styling with a high quality hair dryer and ceramic flat iron."If you have natural hair and it's being 'trained' with the right products, over weeks it will eventually become more manageable," she suggests. Some of Takisha's go-to brands for maintenance include Mizani Moisturefuse and Keracare. She also keeps her trusty Babyliss professional ceramic flat iron handy to smooth and style the hair after a thorough blow-out. Takisha also advises using velcro rollers as a quick way to maintain shape and body between salon visits.

Welcome to the ultimate support group, ladies! Myth withdrawals are only temporary. So shake off the "creamy crack" jitters and let the wind blow through your hair (whether straight or curly) as you ride the road to recovery!

Driven to infuse each encounter with joy-inducing laughter, Dre Brown seeks to offer those she reaches both something for the eye and for the soul. Based out of New York City, Dre splits her time between makeup artistry, hair styling, strategic marketing, writing and entrepreneurship. Follow her exploits on her blog: a Dre in The Life and her Beautylish series "Confessions of a Nouveau Natural Woman"