Age old debate for girls - to perm or not to perm?

Hi -

Mom of a beautiful natural CG - 10yrs old and about to go to middle school. Her hair type is 4a/4b. I style her hair in great 2-strand twists and occasional braids. Very cute. She has had it pressed out about 4 times and she LOVES it. I am not crazy about it as it totally changes her look and, obviously, does not last as long as her natural styles.

The question has come up about perming. I had flat out refused it before thinking she was too young for all that chemical stuff. However, she is a little older and would like to rock straighter styles for variability - which I understand. I have explained to her the good, bad, and ugly of perming (from partial experience only as I don't perm mine). Also, she had expressed interest in swimming competitively this year, and I have also explained to her that regular swimming and perming don't mix well.

To my point: I am torn because I am not a fan of perming; I think she may still be a little young and not ready for responsibility of caring for hair; perming can cost ALOT to maintain; it takes ALOT to maintain healthy hair once introducing chemicals; she is talking about NOT swimming now in order to perm.

Please help & advise!!

Thank you!!
my mom first permed my hair when i was in the second grade. i faithfully had it repermed every year until i was in junior high. then my hair was so fried i had to get up 2 hours early every day to 'straighten' it. the only thing that got my hair back to normal was cutting it all off when i was in college.

but everyone's different. i guess its up to you because of the cost. i think if i had to pay for it myself i wouldn't have wanted a perm (which i only did because my mom had one). with the swimming, you may want to wait and see how her 'now' hair holds up. it'll just ruin any perm quicker.
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Yes relaxing is a very costly treatment. Have you ever thought of texlax? That way she can maintain her natural curl pattern without losing it completely. if she desire to wear her hair straightened it will last longer and be eazier to achieve.

It can be a way to have the best of both worlds?
I'm not sure of the cost but I would imagine it would be about the same.

I had a relaxer when I was very young and until not too long ago I didn't know differently.

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Hi from sharonkay. Please don't put a relaxer in your daughter's hair. A relaxer, in my opinion is the worst thing that you can put on your child's hair and your own. I have just finished transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair. My hair type is 4a in the front and sides and 3c in the back. When I was growing up, my mom only used the hot comb on my hair and my sister's hair. (I am in my mid 40's now). I grew up during the 1970's and lived in a mostly black middle-class neighborhood. Most of the girls in my neighborhood got their hair pressed and very few had relaxers. At that time most of the Black girls had nice thick heads of hair with nice hairlines,etc. Now in 2008, I see young teenage girls with very damaged hair and receding hairlines, mostly caused by relaxers. Many of these girls have to wear hair weaves and they look really awful. Anyway I noticed that Michelle Obama's 2 girls have really nice thick full heads of hair. I don't know exactly what Michelle uses on her girls hair, but it looks like she doesn't use any chemical relaxers on their hair. All of the pics that I have seen of Sasha and Malia on tv and the internet, looks as if they have nice natural healthy hair that doesn't look greasy and overprocessed. A relaxer will most definitely ruin your daughter's hair. I am enjoying my natural hair, but I need to get a more recent pic of myself for this site, because the pic that I have on here is from 2005, when I still had relaxed hair. Hope this helps.
hi. i had my hair relaxed in middle school for the same reasons and wish i hadn't. i ended up going through most of middle school with orangey, dry/brittle, then transitioning hair. i guess relaxing has improved now, but that was just my experience.

Please see my post on this board under the Just for Me Texture Softener.

This is a dilemma. Before I would do a relaxer, I'd look into this texture softener. This product relaxes differently in that you can still achieve the textured style of a curly. It all depends on how you do it.

The reason I like this product is because no-lye relaxes are simply bad for the hair. They leave the hair dull and the breakage is high. This product leaves the hair feeling more like hair. She'll be able to wear it straight or do a twist out.

The thing about regular relaxers is that once the hair gets wet, it has to be styled, by either rolling, blowing out, flat ironed or curling iron. With the texture softener, the hair will air dry with texture. And of course, you must use the products of your choice.

Regarding swimming. No matter what you do to your hair, the key is rinsing the hair with water first, then working a small amount of conditioner into the hair. This decreases cholrine absorption. Then after swimming, rinsing and lightly shampooing and conditioning.

If you swim, even if your hair is natural, you must deep condition regularly. My nieces are about your daughter's age and they swam all summer without damage. But you must condition regularly and rinse the chlorine out after swimming. One of my nieces got a little lazy and her hair immediately got dry and started to break. But the Olive Oil Replenishing pack brought it back and she realizes now that she must always rinse her hair before and after swimming.

The battle with kids and relaxing is a tough one. I think you have to compromise and help your kid make the choice that will not damage her hair too much.
a relaxer, texlax, and just for me "texture softener" are all the exact same thing. the EXACT.

with all of them you still have to do root retouches approximately every 6 weeks, you still run the risk of chemical damage, and if you want to go natural, you still have to grow it out the old fashioned way (or cut it off and start from scratch).

your daughter may not appreciate it now, but in the long run she'll thank you if you decide against relaxers.
First: find out about the chemicals in the jars, their short and long term effects. Second go to http://folica.com to find a flat iron that works for you. If you look at the pics of my daughter's hair from the link below you'll see how a really good flat iron can do the trick. I don't straighten her hair but four times a year...She has super fine texture and I don't want to kill her hair.

I had relaxed hair since I was four years old. And just two months ago, thirty two years later, I did my BC. No more neck pains, weird cyst growths or burning of the scalp. And trust me I went to incredible stylists all my life and when matters got worse they kept going milder (so they thought) on me. But chemicals are just that: chemicals. If you wouldn't drink it or apply it while in the shower why use it at all?

I'm sorry to be so opinionated but I have a 10 year old (see pics of her on link below). I want her to love her hair always. I'm sad that I never got to enjoy my hair all of these years. Also, it may be time to teach your daughter to care for her hair on her own that way it'll be fun and not frustrating (if you think she's ready).
http://timothysmom.wordpress.com

Hope this helps
Gloria
Wait until she has her period, and it can be tracked, and comes on time. To me, when a girl has regular periods is when she's ready to perm.
If at all possible, don't chemically relax her hair. I'm assuming that if her hair is in the 4a/b range, then you'll have to do frequent touchups (every 4-6weeks), otherwise the differences between the two textures will be noticable and will possibly break. Frequently applying chemicals will probably cause her hairline to recede and her hair to be weak. I would stick to rollersetting, flat ironing no more than once a week and letting the hair dry in braids or twists so that it will be looser when it dries.

If she really wants to alter her hair permanently and you're okay with it, then look into a mild relaxer (texturizer) that will allow her to still have some texture in her hair.

Here is a link to curlynikki's blog. Her sister is in the 4 range, and she wears her hair straight without the use of relaxers/texturizers. Maybe this might give you ideas.

http://www.curlynikki.com/2009/01/sy...l-lil-sis.html
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a relaxer, texlax, and just for me "texture softener" are all the exact same thing. the EXACT.

with all of them you still have to do root retouches approximately every 6 weeks, you still run the risk of chemical damage, and if you want to go natural, you still have to grow it out the old fashioned way (or cut it off and start from scratch).

your daughter may not appreciate it now, but in the long run she'll thank you if you decide against relaxers.
Originally Posted by subbrock
yes yes yes.

I feel most of us wouldn't be going through "I want to go natural, but oh my god, what will my hair be like" if we hadn't been relaxed at such an early age. Most people wouldn't dye a childs hair. It's funny how this is considered different.


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a relaxer, texlax, and just for me "texture softener" are all the exact same thing. the EXACT.

with all of them you still have to do root retouches approximately every 6 weeks, you still run the risk of chemical damage, and if you want to go natural, you still have to grow it out the old fashioned way (or cut it off and start from scratch).

your daughter may not appreciate it now, but in the long run she'll thank you if you decide against relaxers.
Originally Posted by subbrock
That's what I was thinking! The only difference is that the texturizer doesn't relax the hair completely, but it is still chemically treated. Also, sometimes when a persons hair is texturized, the curl won't be even, and some parts of the hair will overprocessed. When I was ten I wanted a perm, and I got one. I eventually got tired sitting in a salon for two or three hours and paying ridiculous amounts of money, and now I have completely natural hair. I have an FHI flat iron, and it gets my hair super straight without a relaxer. HTH
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Last edited by jcurlee; 01-09-2009 at 04:59 PM. Reason: adding a link
I am the mother of a 10 year old girl with very thick spiral curls. I have been torn because combing was so difficult with her because she has little to no patience. She wants her hair to look nice quickly. I only work with nicely dampened hair and a wide tooth comb.

Now for our hair routine. I only clean her hair with Suave conditioner once or twice a week depending on her hair's need. After rinsing that out, I put a heavy amount of Lustrasilk Deep Conditioner into her hair. After it has been coated into her hair I comb her hair with a wide tooth comb. I do NOT rinse this conditioner out. I only pat off the drips. I do not rub her hair dry. I do not ever blow dry her hair. I put a towel across her pillow and by morning her hair is 95% dry and beautifully gleaming, soft and lovely. A little finger fluff and she is ready to go. I can put braids in or comb it into other styles, etc. But, she has lost frizz with this treatment. The texture totally changes with this care. I stand with my daughter in front of the mirror and we admire her hair. We make a big production every night when we set out her school clothes for the next day about picking out bows or clips or barrettes or whatever to match her outfits. My daughter is the only girl in her school to regularly wear dresses. I started teaching her early that she did not have to be a member of the herd, that she could be the different one and still be liked by people. All she had to do was to be confident and to do what she enjoyed and to laugh and love.

I hope this gives you ideas and help.
When I was younger and less into "working with my hair" I kept asking my mom to let me get it chemically altered.. As I grew up, and learned to cope with my hair it was more of a nonissue. Now, since recently finding this site I was so grateful to my mom for not letting me get it altered. I'm a bit more mature and educated about my hair now and I look back on my mom not letting me do that and thank her. Just my opinion on the matter. I'm sure there are straighteners that do a great job on getting the hair straight without all the chemicals and permanantness...
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I'm a curly college student, and LOVING it.

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I relaxed my 12-yo dd's hair for the first time this past summer and now transitioning back to all natural hair. She hates her hair because she's limited as to what she can do with it.

If I could do it all over again, I would NOT relax. Storm has a good 4 inches of NG, and is aiming at gaining 4 inches net or more per year. Her goal, to have hair as long as Teri of Biracialhairorg. Oh, my dd burned most of her hair out by flat ironing it more than once per week.

Do cute protective styles and show your dd the horror pictures of relaxers gone bad then show her pictures of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and others featured in the celebrity section of this forum

Last edited by Storm_N _Mom; 01-12-2009 at 07:04 PM.
a relaxer, texlax, and just for me "texture softener" are all the exact same thing. the EXACT.

with all of them you still have to do root retouches approximately every 6 weeks, you still run the risk of chemical damage, and if you want to go natural, you still have to grow it out the old fashioned way (or cut it off and start from scratch).

your daughter may not appreciate it now, but in the long run she'll thank you if you decide against relaxers.
Originally Posted by subbrock
That's what I was thinking! The only difference is that the texturizer doesn't relax the hair completely, but it is still chemically treated. Also, sometimes when a persons hair is texturized, the curl won't be even, and some parts of the hair will overprocessed. When I was ten I wanted a perm, and I got one. I eventually got tired sitting in a salon for two or three hours and paying ridiculous amounts of money, and now I have completely natural hair. I have an FHI flat iron, and it gets my hair super straight without a relaxer. HTH



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www.fotki.com/jtwin88
Originally Posted by jcurlee

Depending the looseness and texture of the hair, it isn't supposed to straighten, but there is no guarantee that it won't.

And really, the only difference between the texturizers and relaxers is the length of time left on, not necessarily the ingredients and concentration. Relaxers are left on longer, whereas texturizers are left on shorter. And while "lye" relaxers are considered less damaing than "no lye", they're still chemicals and still involve risk.

The only way I'd let my hypothetical kids get a relaxer is if and when they can pay to get their hair done every two weeks, and can adequately care for the upkeep of their hair. LOL! I was relaxed at 14, and ONLY because I begged my mom to let me. She was TOTALLY against it, but I told her I could handle it. And I did okay considering, but still had NO clue what i was really doing to my hair. I ended up burning some of my hair off around the temples and at the nape of my neck in the 11th grade because my hair wouldn't straighten completely(my hair was more resistant to straightening with chemicals than it is with a flat iron as a natural....go figure). I literally felt the hair snap, pop from the roots, and break off. I was stuck wearing my hair out for about 6 months regularly until I had enough growth to cover the bald spots.

I was NOT ready for a relaxer. With age, I was better at caring for my hair but I eventually ended up transitioning in college. Way before I even knew what "transitioning" was, or knew of this website.

So, to make a long story short. I wouldn't relax her hair.
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I think she may still be a little young and not ready for responsibility of caring for hair; perming can cost ALOT to maintain; it takes ALOT to maintain healthy hair once introducing chemicals; she is talking about NOT swimming now in order to perm.

Please help & advise!!
Originally Posted by greenivy
my advice is that you need to listen to what she's saying to you already. she's ready to compromise activities just to be able to maintain a fake hair texture. plus, she's 10 and shouldn't be given the liberty to make decisions about what she'll participate in and what she'll quit ... especially based on a hair style.

perming is not an option for my daughter as long as she's a minor. and that will pretty much be the conclusion of that topic in our home, regardless of how much i'd let her plea her case and be sensitive to her desires. my mother did not let me put chemicals in my hair, not even in high school. nor did she allow me to decide what activities i would or would not participate in at the age of 10. if she signed me up for camp, i went. music, i did it. crafts, you betcha. and she never let me quit something after i made a committment to do it.

the bottom line is that she's a minor and pleading for chemical hair shouldn't be given any more consideration than if she were begging for a bratz doll. kids learn that they won't always get what they want. they won't like it, but they do get over it.

you can use this period to teach your daughter how to properly care for her natural hair on her own, how to create styles that she can maintain on her own.

good luck.
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I'm gonna have to chime in with the rest...my hair was relaxed at 12 and that was b/c my mom said hey you wanna do your hair, this is how we'll manage, but then I lost most of my hair between 12 and 15...so anyway...right now I'm wishing that my hair would have been left natural at that time...b/c I did not need a relaxer then, I just didn't have the education, nor my mother on how to deal with my hair texture. Right now I'm growing out my natural hair and I can use a flat iron if I want to straighten and that's all I need. I have a 2.5 yr old daughter her hair is curly and healthy and that's how it's going to stay...as long as NC is on the web and I can order products to make her curls work then that's what she's going to get. She will be able to see that her mother can balance it and so can she.
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I have to agree with almost everyone on here as well....my daughter is 10, and we just spent 2 years growing out a relaxer that my ex-mother-in-law put in her hair without my permission (sore subject, obviously). My daughter liked the relaxer because her hair was easier to straighten. I hated it because if we did not flatiron it, it was a hot, wavy, dried-out mess. A relaxer is no guarantee of stick-straight hair. In order for her to wear it straight, she would have to use a flatiron every day (or I would, since she had a hard time using it). I told my daughter that when she turns 18 she can relax it if she wants to, but until then, everything on her body belongs to me, haha.
It is definately a hard decision to make and I will not agree or disagree...just add that I tried the texture softner and loved the results - at first!!! I loved that it helped me to comb through my dd's hair, but I have to say that now I regret doing it. She has lost her perfect ringlet curls and now has an "s" pattern. Ofcourse, I did this before finding this site!!!

If I knew what I know now...about the methods of washing, co-washing, 2 strand twists etc...I would not have done it. Now I'm using curly Q milkshake, frequent trimming and waiting for all the texturized hair to grow out.

In addition, I have reduced the amount of flat ironing that I do because I want her to love the curls and not have that "I want to look like mommy" envy. I'm rocking the kinky curly custard and loving the free time in the mornings!!!

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