Pain Before Beauty

“Pain must come before beauty” is a phrase I used in an old high school newspaper column about growing up in my old salon on Main Street. It refers to the time and energy it takes to get my hair looking halfway decent. In the spirit of the Chris Rock documentary “Good Hair,” which I hope to rent and review on here later, I wanted to give everyone a play-by-play of what it takes to have a “good hair day,” particularly if you are a woman of color and have thick, coarse hair.
Pregaming: I went to Wal-Mart last night to pick up a nice, new blowdryer, only to realize that the blowdryers are kept not with other hair products, but with random small appliances. Before I get any anti-Wal-Mart folks out there, this was a last resort as it was very late and Sally’s Beauty was closed.
 Carpet cleaners and hair dryers? Really, Wally World?

Normally, I get someone else to do it, particularly if it involves getting the most painful chemical treatment of all – relaxer. For those unfamiliar with it, relaxer is a smelly, icky, typically lye-based cream. And yes, I said “lye”, AKA sodium hydroxide, the “corrosive alkaline substance” that always gives me painful scalp burns I must treat with Neosporin. It is used on my hair to straighten new growth, which is about the first one to two inches of my hair at the roots. That hair grows out naturally kinky and because of the length and thickness of my hair, straightening is an unfortunate necessity.


  • Paul Mitchell tea tree oil shampoo (generic): Used to treat my flaky scalp condition. It smells minty and makes me feel all tingly.
  • Infusion 23 Shampoo: Good all over hair cleansing and conditioning
  • Infusium 23 Leave-in Treatment: Good alternative to normal conditioner
  • Aveda Brilliant Emollient Finishing Gloss: My family and I refer to this as the “Johnny smell” because my old stylist uses it as a finishing product and it smells amazing. Adds shine
  • Blow-dryer with detangling comb attachment: A must for thick hair
  • Flat iron: It curls the ends much like a regular curling iron, but smooths out the hair at the same time.

Since no straightening was involved, I decided to do it myself. Here’s the play-by-play:

6:30 a.m.: Since I have a scalp condition (my doctor boss referred to the “cradle cap” that children get), I decided to spend a few minutes in the mirror combing and brushing my scalp. It loosens up the flakiness and prepares my scalp for the shampoo. My arms are already sore and I have barely begun! Then the shampooing process begins. I wet my hair in the shower and apply the tea tree shampoo into individual sections in my hair.

It doesn’t lather very well so I had to use a brush to make sure it got deep into my roots. Otherwise, you run the risk of just cleaning the hair and not the scalp. This is the most common problem I have with most professional beauticians, even ones who know my hair. The only person who can really ever get my scalp clean is dear old Mom, and that’s because she takes time to shampoo and rinse my hair multiple times in small sections.

6:45 a.m.: After rinsing, the next phase of shampooing begins. I used the Infusium shampoo all over my hair and scalp. It lathers up really nicely and feels great!

7:00 a.m.: I use the Infusium leave-in treatment in small spurts all over my hair and attempt to detangle with a new comb. If I’m having a difficult go of it, I just add more treatment, even though you shouldn’t use that much.

7:10 a.m.: The arduous drying process begins. Thankfully, I had a great new hair dryer that dries your hair more quickly and conditions it, so it wasn’t nearly as horrible as it normally is. The best way to dry it is in sections, starting at the bottom and then working my way through the extra-thick middle of my head.

7:40 a.m: My hair is quite dry but bone straight! It’s then time to style and curl my hair. I do it in small pieces starting on the left side and working my way to the middle, then I curl and comb the other side. It has become the easiest part of the process, because I do it so frequently.
8 a.m.: I’m all finished! I took my time, so it ended up taking a little bit longer than it normally does. I add the finishing gloss and I’m ready to finish preparing for my day. It came out a ton better than in the past, and I think it’s mostly because of my newer products and I’m getting a little more used to the process.
Hope you enjoyed this play by play. Let me know what it takes to get yourself dolled up.

3 thoughts on “Pain Before Beauty

  1. This is seriously why I just stopped straightening my hair. Even with a relaxer it still took too much time! I have contemplated the BKT, but if I did that, I'd do it myself with some aid because it's an arduous process as well. Have you thought about going natural? I think it might look good on you…I've never seen you with curls, though, so I don't know what type you have as there is various forms of "kinky". Maybe check out and see what you think. I'm Fluffy01 on there. Hehe.

  2. Thanks girl! Yes, I have considered going natural, but I don't think I have the right head shape for it. 😦 I will try and go curly again. I will try and post some old pics with me and big curls. I will definitely check out that site. I really appreciate it! 🙂

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