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It may be shallow, but the first thing I usually think of after I book a trip is What am I going to do with my hair? I had the same thought when I moved to the Philippines, and again to Singapore. In America I could run to my hairdresser every two weeks or spend hours doing my hair at home. With the absence of humidity and with the right product even I can work wonders on my thick, unruly hair. But in Southeast Asia it all changed. I brought my blow dryer, flat iron and pressing comb with me, but even still I’d spend hours doing my hair only to step outside and have it all ruined in seconds due to the climate. And there was no such thing as going to the store there to get products that worked on my hair. I had to plan months in advance to make sure I had even the most basic products to put in my hair. As a result, I’ve resorted to some things that I never would have considered before.

I tried everything. I started natural (which I’ve been for most of my life), but it took a while to find someone who could rebraid my hair. In the meantime I got a Brazilian blowout. When I returned to my hairdresser stateside he laughed. What Brazilian blowout? Guess formaldehyde didn’t have sh!@ on my hair. Next was a weave. Hated that. I even went as far as going to China to get my own supply. In the process I visited Guangzhou and found out more than one person ever needs to know about where hair really comes from. Chris Rock only scratched the surface. In the end, I felt fake. I worried someone was always staring at my tracks or noticed that my hair had grown several inches over night and I thought What a waste? I’ve got a beautiful full head of hair sitting underneath this peluca.

Weaved up in Boracay

Weaved up in Boracay. The irony of wearing this shirt when I’m not even embracing my own hair.

Healthy hair in Puerto Rico before the perm

Healthy hair in Puerto Rico before the perm.

 

From there I went to flat irons, which was an endless struggle in the constant humidity. So I jumped to the creamy crack, which almost instantly caused my once long, healthy hair to break off. Feeling disgusted with myself, I gave up. I cut it all off and went back to square one, natural. Braids, twists, braids again. Even that gets old. It’s a constant cycle of taking them down and putting them back in. It’s too much work and constant stress on my hair.  Are my edges thinning?????, I’m always thinking to myself.

I quit. For once I’m going to wear my hair the way it comes out of my scalp and just stop caring about what people think. As I write, I’m taking out the braids, hoping for the best without a comb in sight. Stay tuned for more.

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My cousin helping me take out my braids in Indonesia.