Funny college story. There was a time where getting cornrows in the front with the curly weave sown in the back was the biznezz. I think it was the first sets of curly styles to hit the scene. My sophomore year, I went to this braid shop in Brooklyn and asked for cornrows parted in the middle leading to the puffy/curly situation in the back.
The whole time I was getting braided I told the lady to of course not braid me too tight, while popping some Advil in preparation for what's to come. I walked out the shop feeling in my gut that something was wrong. There was a part in the middle of my head with cornrows going down and towards the back. I felt the pain was a bit much and I could tell my hair was pulling, but I was determined to tough it out. Beauty hurts right?
Once I returned to campus, some of my friends started commenting on how wide my part was, and a few hours later, again pointed out how it was getting wider by the minute. You guessed it, the tension was literally tweezing my hair out and making the part visibly wider in real time! By nightfall, I had enough! I swallowed my pride and unbraided my hair. There was literally a wound in the middle of my head, my hair was tweezed out and hurts to the touch.
I actually went back to the braider and had her rebraid my hair in a different direction to hide now the wide. Those were the days when I put style above comfort and scalp health. I didn't know any better.
In reality, what I was doing to my hair is exposing my scalp to infections. Tight styles, don't just create tension that cause traction, they also create knicks and small wounds in the scalp, that can lead to low grade infections when accumulated dirt gets in. Low grade, means that it may not be obvious to you. You may or may not feel pain, soreness, or itchiness. These infections can then shutdown your follicles. This is why one of the treatments offered are the same antibiotic pill that are prescribed for acne.
In retrospect, I wish I was educated on how all these choices affect my scalp and health, in permanent ways. This is part of my goal, to help educate you about scalp health and what you can do to make sure you and the next generation knows better and does better. We can actually all have beautiful styles while pampering our scalp and hair. All it takes a little creativity and balance.
- Be your own advocate in the chair
- It's better to have a loose/gentle style that last 5 weeks, instead of a tight, traumatic style that lasts 8
- It's ok to take a break or a holiday from your style and give your scalp some TLC for a few weeks ( massages, deep conditioning, and letting your scalp breathe)- remember, you scalp needs to breathe for its temperature to normalize
- Always start your style with a light blend of anti-inflammatory oil that can help prevent scalp infections, in cases where your skin is compromised.
In Love, Health and Presence of Mind