Finding the right combination for your hair can feel a lot like a science experiment and for me, that metaphorical experiment usually goes wrong. When I was younger, I didn’t know how to treat my tightly coiled hair and instead opted for straightening it. I relied on a devastating combination of heat tools and chemical treatments to get my desired look. Here are a few hair horror stories that I experienced while trying to get my hair to look and behave the way I wanted.

Railroads

Back in high school, I decided to try my hand at curling my hair. It was a new school year, and I had just cut my hair short. As fate would have it, as I was twisting the wand around my hair, I dropped it. However, my hair was still wound tightly around the wand, so when the wand fell it swung and hit the back of my neck, twice! My neck looked like a grade school kid’s failed attempt to draw miniature train tracks on me, and my hair was too short to cover it. To add insult to injury, I also burned my hair in the process. School the next day was memorable to say the least.

Don’t scratch before you relax

A relaxer is a chemical treatment that straightens hair. Relaxers work by breaking specific bonds within the hair and reforming them. A documentary called Good Hair (2009) exposed the dangers of relaxers for me, and as such, I don’t use them anymore. However, as a child and young teen, relaxers and I were best friends. And I never disliked the results, except for this one incident.

If you’ve ever had a relaxer put in, you’ll know the one thing you should never do is scratch your scalp beforehand. I knew it too. But, it was almost Valentine’s day and I wanted to look cute for my boyfriend; and I opted to have a relaxer put in anyway. How bad was it? It was awful! The entire process was pure agony. From start to finish, I could hardly sit still. It felt like someone took a lit match to my scalp. Washing it out was painful and my scalp felt raw. I vowed from that moment on never to repeat that experience. But my troubles weren’t over yet, for the next couple of weeks, my scalp was one giant scab. It was rough to the touch and would flake off as the scabs fell.

The hair crunch

Right before I started college, I decided to finally do the big chop. For those uninitiated,  it means to cut off all previously relaxed hair. I did it so that I could learn to embrace my natural and very curly hair.  A helpful family member gave me a book to read, and in it, I learned all about the wonders of co-washing and everything I needed to take care of my hair —or so I thought. It turns out, the book failed to mention what type of conditioner to use. Not thinking it mattered, I bought and used a cheap conditioner. It wasn’t even a leave-in conditioner and I used it for a full year. That’s right. No oils, grease, or hair masks, were applied to my hair. Back then, I didn’t know anything about hair porosity or how to hydrate my hair.  The conditioner didn’t help at all; in fact, my hair was incredibly dry. I didn’t realize how bad it was until a friend asked if she could touch my hair. When she touched it, her face distorted into an expression of shock and confusion. My hair sounded like someone had just stepped into a pile of dry, dead leaves. The experience was mortifying, and I knew something had to change. After learning more about hair porosity and what my tresses might like, I looked into other products that would be more agreeable with my hair.

Do you have any hair horror stories? Share them in the comments below!

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