Because sometimes you want to smooth down that kink, naturally.
A little hair-story
I was at the hair salon one day getting braids done. A Caucasian woman walked in with a 6 year old black girl. That little girl’s hair was what I would describe as a hay stack that had been through a tornado and a tsunami all at once. It was a shocking sight.
The woman was desperate: she wanted to know how to deal with her little girl’s hair without hurting her when she tried to comb it.
She used to shave it all off. As the girl grew, she didn’t want close shaved hair anymore but would cry when her mother tried to comb it. Eventually her mother gave up on dealing with the hair.
It had been a couple of years since that little girl’s hair had felt the soothing stroke of a comb. Her mother was at the hair salon crying out for help.
But that’s not it.
What she didn’t know? She just met a dealer who was about to introduce her daughter to crack, hair crack that is.
The answer she got from the hair dresser on how to deal with her daughter’s hair? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
The hair dresser simply told her with some type of look on her face: “you need to relax that little girl’s hair. It’s the only way.”
Black girl don’t care
So let me get this straight: a woman is afraid of putting a comb through her daughter’s hair in fear that it will harm her but painful toxic chemicals are just what she needs.
Really at that point I thought to myself that all that could fix that little girl’s hair was probably shaving it off and starting over, the proper way, with help.
I remember uttering to the hairdresser as she walked towards me: “you know that’s not right. You say yourself you wouldn’t use a relaxer on your own daughters, yet you are making that suggestion for someone else’s child? With the current state of her hair, relaxing it will end up breaking it all off and making it look like a hot mess.
She simply replied to me: “Well what do you want me to do? She’s a white woman who only knows how to deal with straight hair. She decided to adopt a black child with kinky hair. What do you want me to do?” – and walked away.
Her conclusion: the woman should have gotten the memo on kinky hair before adopting a Black child.
I couldn’t believe her! She knew better: she was west African and had young daughters with kinky hair herself…
The hair dresser was very talented but her attitude just didn’t live up to her talent. To top if off, she pretty much gave up on that child without trying.
Stay away from the creamy crack
It got me thinking. When I was little, my mother absolutely positively never agreed to help me relax my hair. I begged and pleaded and she kept telling me that relaxers were not good for my hair.
I think where she lost me was that her hair was relaxed, all my friends’ hairs were relaxed, yet I wasn’t allowed to get a relaxer. It just seemed unfair.
When I was around 15 years old, I got a relaxer for the first time in my life. My mother had finally agreed to allow me to do it for my birthday. I thought it was a wonderful gift: I got to have silky straight hair and be like everyone else…
It took me less than 10 years to see my hair slowly dying under the yoke of that creamy crack. Although I took precious care of my hair to the point I would even talk to it (yeah i know, ridiculous), my bun went from the size of an large Florida orange to the size of a baby fist lime in just a few years.
Since then, I went back to being a natural and no one had to beg me to do it.
History has it
So how did my mother deal with my hair? Sure enough, there have been days where we’ve had to do some comb breaking to get some detangling done. However, in those days where I lived, we didn’t have all the co-washing and super moisturizing conditioning treatments to make hair soft. Not to mention for an eight year old, that kind of sophistication would just sound crazy.
After every hair wash on my un-braided hair, I became what I would call a victim of the Shrinkage Factor.
No chemistry, just strings attached
My mother used a very easy ancient technique used by her mother and her mother’s mother that involves no heat and that gives excellent results: threading.
Nooo! Now don’t let your mind wander to the eyebrow threading technique that is used for removing hair.
Let’s call this the G-String for it had to be “hood” enough to handle “gangsta” hair like mine. In fact, the kinkier the hair the better it works.
This technique has been used for millennia in Africa (mostly west and central) to manage kinky hair. The hair was threaded and styled in various hairstyles or just threaded before braiding the hair to make it easier to manage.
Our ancestors have had centuries to test this out and I say if it’s still used to this day, there’s a good reason for it: it works.
Take a peek at the styles African women came up with.
Now tell me that’s not ingenious talent!
It’s an addiction
To get back to my hair story with my mother, after I washed my hair and a couple of days before I went to get my hair braided, my mother would thread my hair to smooth it out and make it easier for the hairdresser to braid, and less painful for me. I’m guessing she was hoping that way, no one would have a reason to complain about how I should be getting a relaxer before braiding my hair.
The irony of it is that they would admire the volume and health blooming out of my fro and would immediately say: “if I had hair like yours I would relax it and style it in all kinds of ways”.
Someone should have told them: “you won’t get very far staying “high” on that creamy crack…”.
Now don’t get it twisted! Let’s not start whining about my point here. I admit it, natural hair is not for everyone so if you’re a creamy crack addict, no one’s trying to stop you and no one wants to drag you through the grow out rehab. I agree, it’s a very personal decision that may not fit your lifestyle.
But to everyone out there who has natural kinky hair or has to deal with it , this one’s for you.
Tutorial: The Hair Shrinkage Solution
In this two-part video, I show you how I smooth out my kinky hair without heat using an ancient African technique called threading (a.k.a the G-String).
The G-String Technique | Part 1 : THE INSTRUCTIONS
The G-String Technique | Part 2 : THE RESULTS!
This works even better when you do it on wet hair first, then remove the thread when your hair is dry and redo the threading. When you go to remove the thread the second time, it gives it the feel of freshly blow dried hair.
If you are going to use this often on your child for example, it might be easier to wash her hair with the thread on and let it dry before repeating the style of making variations of it. It will save you some time detangling it.
If you are planning to keep it for a long time, you can use plastic thread or weave thread. I’ve even seen some people use colorful thread to make it more fun for a child for instance. However if you decide to go to town with the types of thread you are using, I do not recommend using cotton thread or wool yarn. Natural fibers tend to suck the moisture out of your hair and will make it feel very dry.
Ladies (and gentlemen), if like me you’re a victim of the after wash hair shrinkage effect and you’ve broken endless combs to maintain your natural fro I hope this article and tutorial have been useful to you.
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While we’re sharing tips… are there any natural methods you know of to deal with shrinkage? I want to know!