For twenty years journalist Valley Fontaine chemically straightened her hair, until one day a reoccuring throught made her stop. Several years on, Valley has gone natural and is striving to help others get the best out of their hair.
I wish I could say I went natural because I missed and yearned for my kinky, curly, coiling hair, but it wasn’t.
The reason I decided to go back to my natural hair and embark on what was (at times) a challenging journey was for a combination of the following reasons:
1. I became concerned about what 20 years of chemically straightening my hair was doing to my organs. Was the sodium sulphate seeping through my scalp and into my brain? Every time I booked my twice-yearly visit to the hairdressers this thought crossed my mind.
2. When I sat in the hairdressers chair with the chemical straighter smothered all over my head, I would think: I’ve been lucky so far to have no disasters, but what would happen if when the hairdresser was washing the relaxer out and my hair was so over processed that my hair fell out into the sink? I’d heard so many horrific stories of hair in the sink over the years that I thought it was just a matter of time before this happened to me.
3. I could have straight hair without the expense, the inconvenience of travelling miles to my salon, dedicating a whole day to the hair relaxing process and, more importantly for me, playing what I believed was Russian roulette with my health and hair. I could always use a flat iron.
So in June 2010, six months after I had my last relaxer, I was due to get my regrowth touched up. But I kept putting it off. I did not pick up the phone to make the appointment.
By month seven my hair was still looking OK, but by month nine the two textures were at odds. I still refused to make an appointment for my relaxer, because I’d decided I was going to go natural!
Once I had made the decision I knew it was the right thing to do. Also at this time I had discovered that thousands of women on YouTube were doing the same thing: ditching their permanent hair straightening routine for their natural tresses. So I wasn’t alone after all, I had lots of company.
Now, just over four years on, with the help of my homemade wigs both straight and curly and plenty of patience I have a full head of waist length (if stretched) kinky, curly, coiling hair that I’m so, so happy to have.
I now have the best of both worlds and can wear my natural but have a different look when I want by wearing one of my home made wigs. I love it!
Valley Fontaine is a BBC broadcast journalist who also provides tips on wigs, weaves and extensions in an effort to prevent others from damaging their hair. Contact Valley on Twitter for more hair-saving advice or visit her website.