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30 Sep

Are Relaxers And Sew-Ins In Vogue Again?

Are Relaxers And Sew-Ins In Vogue Again?

Nia Lewis

“Natural hair is tough.”

This viewpoint is common amongst women nearing the tip of their braided, bantu-knotted and picked rope styles lengthening their preparing process to hours. It’s also a preferred sentiment with those preferring relaxers and sew-ins with treated leave-outs. Either side have supporters. 

Following an uptick in early influencers like Vanisha S. and Kendra and Kelsey Murrell sharing takes on why chemical-free hair was price trying, the second wave of the natural hair movement grew roots within the 2010s. With the arrival of social media, it was easier than ever to construct a platform, share details about hair and find community. Unlike its predecessor over 50 years earlier, this natural hair wasn’t solely a political statement; it was about Black women’s health, too. 

When Daniella Emilien, a former celebrity hair stylist based in Florida, began working as a full time stylist in 2015, she soon found herself routinely working with people whose hair had been damaged by relaxers. In conversation with ESSENCE, Emilien revealed one star developed a medical problem doctors linked to her hair routine. 

“One among my clients, who was actually a star, ended up [with] fibrosis,” she says. “When she went to a specialist, they told her it was the brand of the relaxer, which was Motions. They’d a recall and a whole lot of African American women [were] affected.” 

The potential issues stemming from relaxers are well-known and documented, but between the increasingly extreme criteria “Instagram stylists” place on clients and other people’s busy schedules, some women are selecting to do what works for them. Relaxers, the chemical treatment that knocks among the curl out of Black hair, is a fast solution. 

Firstly of 2021, Diamond Rawlins, a mother of two, felt overwhelmed by her thick, tightly coiled hair. She was wearing her natural hair for roughly 12 years. After the birth of her second daughter, she decided to show back to a way she knew well; getting a relaxer. 

Rawlins’ mother had been diagnosed with carpal tunnel when she was 10 years old and she or he was given her first relaxer shortly after to make it easier for her mom. By the point she was 16, Rawlins was administering her Olive Oil and Creme of Nature brand products herself. When she was exiting her teen years in 2009, she decided to do an enormous chop, but for her, it ultimately became an excessive amount of to handle and she or he began processing her hair again. 

“I kept cutting my hair, because I used to be just beginning to get very unmanageable for me,” Rawlins says of her natural hair. “It’s a whole lot of work. I feel like natural hair is a whole lot of work.” In 2021, she became pregnant, which foiled her plan to get a relaxer firstly of the 12 months. So she waited until March 2022 and has no regrets about her decision. Sure, she was initially hesitant, but trusted herself to do what suited her. 

“I used to be iffy at first. I’m like, ‘Oh, do I need to do it? I’ve been natural this long—I feel I can do it,” she says. “However it just began to get slightly bit an excessive amount of for me. So I waited until after I used to be pregnant to truly do it, because they are saying don’t do it whilst you’re pregnant due to the chemicals.” 

Now, she goes to a store in Texas for a relaxer and says she has more time to concentrate on her daughters’ hair.

Are Relaxers And Sew-Ins In Vogue Again?

In recent months, Chiquita Davis, an Atlanta stylist, has seen a spike in customers requesting relaxers, and  she’s also doing her part to assist clear up misconceptions.  “A few of our relaxed clients, we’re not completely removing the curl pattern,” she says. “Simply enough to where it’s more manageable for them to do at home.” She advises against giving yourself a relaxer, though.

“I personally don’t think that relaxers must be done at home. Prefer it must be done within the hair salon. It’s a really harsh chemical if it’s not in the proper hands.”

Just like relaxers, sew-ins are a hot hair trend—or are they? 

LeAna McKnight, founding father of SL Raw Virgin Hair, believes they never really fell out of favor. “Sew-ins have at all times prevailed [in] my business simply because of the very fact of it being a protective style,” she explains via Zoom. Nevertheless, she does acknowledge educational online platforms (think TikTok, YouTube and Instagram) have made consumers more aware of their options. “I do feel like there may be a better jump in the case of sew-in extensions, just due to the knowledge that’s accessible now online. Individuals are understanding the way to take care of their hair.”

Sew-ins are conceptually easy and have been around because the Nineteen Forties. Christina Jenkins, a Black woman who worked at a wig manufacturing company in Chicago, is credited with inventing the strategy. Her goal was to have wigs sit more naturally on the wearer’s head. They’ve evolved a bit since then (for instance, getting braids before having a sew-in done is relatively standard now) but the concept of adding length and helping women achieve a desired look without quite a lot of visible clips remains to be very much present. 

McKnight says there are multiple ways to approach the technique. “A sew in will be anything from a partial sew in where you’re getting hairs overlooked and your hair is getting used to give you the chance to cover the extension tracks..or it might probably be roll-sewn,” she says. And it’s not irregular for ladies to calm down the hair that’s “overlooked” for a silky, straight, seamless look. Davis noted persons are coming in and asking her for sew-ins and u-parts, which will not be too far faraway from a sew-in , you simply don’t must sew the track. “They already sew onto a weave cap and then you definitely just still attach it the identical way. I’ve been doing a whole lot of those,” she said. 

There are major benefits to sew-ins, too. “One among those advantages is having the ability to conceal your hair and having the ability to lock that moisture in when your hair is put away,” McKnight shared. “You don’t have the fear and stress of putting heat in your hair and manipulating your hair and snagging it, causing frizziness, causing split ends, and pulling throughout the duration.”

Are Relaxers And Sew-Ins In Vogue Again?
Nia Lewis

In 2018, research from Mintel found that 33 percent of ladies are probably to wear their hair natural. Forty percent of the themes also divulged they’d wear their natural hair if they might add heat to it. So with a not necessarily dominant, but still wide selection of ladies involved in maintaining their hair’s unaltered state, why the willingness to embrace relaxers again? The COVID-19 pandemic. 

With government-imposed shutdowns of non-essential businesses, including beauty salons, many were left to their very own devices. Emilien believes it was a struggle and thinks women don’t  fully understand how their hair works.

“Plenty of women don’t know the way to maintain their hair,” she said bluntly. “They don’t know the way to shampoo, condition, or treat their hair.” She also considered the ladies who didn’t have the luxurious of working from home and had no other option than to do their best. 

Davis agrees the pandemic impacted women’s relationship with their hair. “People wanted something that was either easier for them to take care of at home or something that they might get done often, but not too often to where, you already know, they must be in a salon every two weeks, she said.” She also mentioned persons are desirous to cut their wash days down by hours so that they’re not spending a complete day washing, rubbing, rinsing and styling. “Quick” just could be the most trendy approach of all. 

“In the long run, healthy hair is what matters most.”

For rigid naturalists, the concept of a relaxer is all-time low. This has contributed to the stress between those with relaxers and people without. The clear divide is possibly best exemplified on Twitter, where folks attempt to persuade others to cross over; though sometimes it might probably go so far as bashing. In October 2021, Twitter user Zenizole Gquada wrote, “Chill out your hair honey, stop suffering,” with 4 photos of her hair attached. People ratioed the post. Somewhat than argue with Gquada, some figured it might be best to share photos of their natural curls. 

“You’re not living that person’s life,” Rawlins says, regarding the net snark. “You’re not of their shoes..Sometimes I feel it’s more of a cultural thing.” 

In the long run, healthy hair is what matters most. 

“I tell my clients on a regular basis, it really don’t matter what you’ve gotten in your hair,” David explains. “The thing for me is, is it healthy on your hair? Or is [your hair] healthy?” Hair with volume, sheen, and no damage are all signs of an excellent, sustainable method. 

Yes, fads will come and go, preferences will stand tall and debates will trudge on. What actually counts is how women feel about themselves and what they will maintain. Only you already know what works for you. 

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