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History Repeats Itself: Relaxers are making a comeback!

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Howard chapter.

Do you remember when the Natural Hair community was at its peak era? If you don’t remember it’s okay, I can help jog your memory. It was around the late 2010s when YouTube was also very popular from people making pranks, story times, vlogs, makeup tutorials, and more. On the other side of that world, we had the natural hair girls.

Youtubers like Naptural185, Luhhsetty, Halfricanbeauté (Isimeme Edeko), Jewejewebee (Jewellianna Palencia), Jasmeannnn, and more were influencing a shift in women’s hair. Many Black women decided that they were not going to succumb to what society deemed as beautiful and so the big chops began. Black women rocking the twa’s (Teeny Weeny Afros) were so common, you’d probably remember seeing your aunt one day with a curly fro.

I have always had natural hair. My mother never let me perm my hair or even straighten it. It was only until my 6th grade promotion that my mother agreed to take me to the hair salon to get my hair straightened. This was something that I’ve always wanted to do and I was so excited. The excitement came and went as the very next day, my hair reverted back.

Since then, I’ve decided that I want to do my hair on my own and that’s when I went on YouTube and got sucked into the magical world of the Natural Hair Community. I didn’t know that my hair could be styled in so many ways and I made sure to do them all. The more I learned how to do my hair, the more I loved it and how I looked with it.
Now let’s go back to the present day. It is 2023 and you go on YouTube to see, “Why I went back to relaxers” and “Relaxing my hair after four years natural.” Many might wonder what happened, some of you might understand, and others might not even care. As I see more videos pop up in my feed, I sit and run my hands through my newly relaxed pixie cut and wonder, “Is there something in the air?”

After watching videos of people explaining their reasons and hearing from a few students, one of the main reasons why many women might be going back to the relaxers is simply because of the time and the expenses it takes to maintain natural hair. Britnee, a student at Howard University, who wears her hair in protective styles and naturally says, “I think people are going back to relaxers because it’s just a lot easier to maintain, and it’s a lot less money… a lot of people are on the go, especially in the age we’re at now. We’re busy with school, we’re figuring out our careers, we don’t always have time to do our natural hair.”

As beautiful as natural hair is, we can all admit that it can take a lot of time and money to maintain it. Some people are able to put in the time and others are not. As we start to put that into perspective, are Black women perming their hair now different from before? Ashley, a student who wears her hair protected and in its natural state has this to say, “I believe Black women perming now is different because we have knowledge about taking care of our hair that we didn’t have before. We can better prep and protect it in natural styles, protective styles, and perms.”

She goes on to say that she believes that the younger generation of Black girls will have healthier hair because of our knowledge. Ify, another student who wears her hair naturally, protected, and has had a perm before says, “I feel like it has reduced a little bit as compared to before because of the new research coming out about relaxers and texturization potentially causing cancer so people are more cautious about it.”

In hearing these responses the common idea of the difference between perming now and then is definitely having gained knowledge about perms and its downsides. People are more knowledgeable about what they are getting into when they decide to perm their hair and so it’s not about perming to fit society’s standards but perming because that’s what they feel is best for them.

Through having conversations with my fellow peers, I found a lot of peace in seeing that many Black women love their natural hair regardless of whether they choose to wear their hair in protective styles, straight, or relaxed.

“I love how I look with my hair in its natural form when it’s short. I like to dye it, I like to curl it in that form.. and it makes me feel really good knowing that I’m still very beautiful” — Ify

“I definitely grown to love my natural hair, I used to not love it as much before. But I definitely love my natural hair now, me not having it out doesn’t have to do with me not liking it.” 


“I feel good about my hair overall, there is always room for improvement. My hair is always in twists due to my busy schedule but I’d love to take the time to really take care of my hair.” — Ashley

Even though relaxers are coming back, I believe that we have come so far from where we were before in terms of what we know and our self-esteem. I want to spend some time applauding us Black women for where we are today in terms of our self-love and confidence.

I believe that we should give the natural hair influencers and the natural hair community their flowers because, through them, we are able to appreciate our God-given hair, gain the knowledge of how to take care of our hair, and still be able to make our own decisions on what we choose to do with it moving forward. So whether you wear your hair natural, protected, straight, or permed, do what’s best for your lifestyle and walk in confidence!

Ogechi Nwughala is a creative writer at HerCampus Chapter at Howard Univeristy. Ogechi’s creative writings focus on motivation, faith, and lifestyle. Beyond HerCampus, Ogechi writes journal entries and short stories on “www.Medium.com”. There, she goes on a more deep dive into faith and motivation to keep going despite the many hardships life throws at us. She was a mentor at her University and volunteered at the Howard University ASB(Alternative Spring Break) Program. She has studied abroad in France to gain more knowledge in french speaking to further her career. She is currently a Senior Political Science Major and French Minor at Howard University. In her free time, Ogechi enjoys creating in the forms of taking pictures and videos, painting, and writing (of course). She also enjoys reading novels and eating different foods. Her current favorite shows are “Only Murders in the Building” and “One Piece.”