Press n’ Curl is not a service that I was expecting a stylist to be offering in this day and age. So when Karaine (my new stylist) suggested a press n’ curl I was like, huh?
The back story…
At some point early in the year, my hair was either a) over processed; b) reacting to medications; c) reacting to my absent minded reluctance to hydrate properly or d) reacting to the no-lye relaxers that I was using at the time. Well whichever one, or maybe it was a combination of all of the above, my hair was coming out in bundles. When I realized the shedding wasn’t going to be an easy fix with Aphogee and moisturizers, I seeked professional help from someone who was knowledgeable and skilled with black hair.
I turned to my Facebook friend, Karaine Smith-Holness, who is the owner of Hair’s Kay Salon and Hair’s Kay Academy of Cosmetology in New Haven, Connecticut. I was looking for a way to support her and I also figured that if anyone had an answer for my hair situation that it would be an experienced cosmetologist who owned a hair school. So in July, I hopped into my little car and took the long route to New Haven for a consultation and relaxer.
I did all that I could to suppress the tears at the announcement of how much of my hair was flowing down the drain. She immediately honed in on the no-lye relaxer because my hair was hard (literally). Apparently, the active ingredient in no-lye relaxers is calcium hydroxide something another that leaves calcium deposits on our hair. Hence, hard, dry, brittle and shedding hair.
Now that we both understood the cause of the massive migration of my hair from my head she disappeared into a room, whipped up a concoction, applied it generously on my hair, saran wrapped me and placed me under a dryer. After a rinse, roller set and flat iron, my hair had bounce and life and I figured my hair problems were behind me. She gave me a little talk about my reluctance to drink water and then looked me directly in the eyes and told me “NO MORE RELAXERS FOR YOU… not for a while anyways.”
That was back in July and my hair has been in need of a touch-up since the end of August. I’ve honestly been getting by with my half permed, half new growth hair, but I had no intention of waltzing into my friend Nigel Ramsay’s fashion show with my hair in that condition. I weighed my options: relaxing against the advice of a professional or wearing a wig. That’s when Karaine suggested that I try a thermal texturizer (aka a press n’ curl).
Another quick flashback…
I haven’t had a press n’ curl since I was 12. My hair was thick and according to my Mom, unmanageable so every Saturday she would ship me off to the little black girl’s shop of horror where all of the stylists had a talent for causing pain (totally got that from the “Little Shop of Horrors”). I still have very vivid memories of Gwen (my first time hairdresser) the phone books that she propped me up on in the chair, her jar of barbicide that was there for show only and cinged ears from her attempts to get my edges with the hot comb.
But Karaine convinced me and a few Thursdays ago, I clocked out from work, jumped on 91 Sout and headed for Hair’s Kay in New Haven.
I was her only customer and I was grateful because I knew there were going to be tears. I wanted to show Karaine how good I had become with my water intake and asked for a bottle of water. She brought me two. She washed my hair, placed me under a steamer dried it and walked me over to the station where all of her irons and things were.
I prayed silently, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, tensed my body and gripped onto one of the water bottles for dear life. My heart was in my throat and it felt like the world was moving in slow motion. I know it was only a few seconds later, but it felt like five hours had passed before the hot comb finally connected with my hair. I had reserved a “Lord Jesus” at the tip of my tongue to utter in reaction for what I knew would be the first burn and then the next thing I know she was half way through my whole head. I, opened one eye, realized that it was safe, opened the other and relaxed until the end.
By the time I left that salon, Karaine and I were bonded by the experience and the conversation that followed. I only winced once. The rest of the time, I honestly did not feel a thing.
The magical press n’ curl got me through Nigel’s show, a very strenuous dance class and steamy showers. I kept it for two weeks and washed it last week before I got my hair into a more long term protective style (post forthcoming).
SIDE NOTE: Karaine is the first woman of African and Jamaican descent to open a Cosmetology school in the state of Connecticut. I am so proud of her!
Karaine Smith-Holness took these photos. The last photo (black and white) was taken by Keith Claytor of Timefrozen.com