I had traction alopecia from tight hair styles when I was young. After getting a big chop a few years ago, I started my natural-hair journey, and I finally love my hair texture.

Tina Charisma as a young girl
Tina Charisma when she was a young girl.Courtesy Tina Charisma
  • When I was young, traction alopecia from tight hairstyles caused me to experience some hair loss.

  • I started treatment for it, but it took awhile for me to change my mindset about my hair.

  • Finally, I unlearned some of what society says about Black hair and started my natural-hair journey.

"Hit the back of her head with this hammer three times a day," a local acupuncturist said.

I had made an appointment seeking help for the alopecia that started developing in my early teens. His remedy sounded terrifying. My mother intervened and refused his treatment suggestion for me.

Hair is a major part of many women's identity; it affects how we feel, how we look, and how we show up. If something as simple as a bad hair day can easily ruin your mood, something as drastic as losing hair feels like losing yourself.

Finding answers — and a solution

There are several reasons someone can lose their hair, and a visit to a healthcare professional soon revealed that I had traction alopecia. Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. There are many kinds of alopecia, including alopecia areata, which causes a person to lose hair in patches on the scalp or other places on the body, alopecia totalis, which leads to hair loss across the entire scalp, and even alopecia universalis, which causes hair loss across the entire body. Thankfully, my alopecia was on the milder side and induced by tight hairstyles.

If I could travel back in time, I would love to tell my hairdressers that doing your hair did not have to be synonymous with pain.

Hairdressers I went to used harsh chemical relaxers and styles that required heat. While things have gotten a bit better since the time I grew up, misinformation about Black hair continues to spread. I was always told things like, "Black hair is hard to manage, hard to grow, and must continually be straightened to be acceptable." These things aren't true, yet I believed them to be for a while.

Tina Charisma in a white dress smiling at the camera
Charisma.Courtesy Tina Charisma

The myths about Black hair fed into my lack of experience and knowledge about my own hair. Once I was diagnosed with alopecia, I was given an ointment as a treatment, and my hair started to grow back. But my mindset toward it did not change, so my hair growth was stunted yet again. After one visit to the hairdressers when my hair was relaxed for far too long, I experienced even more hair loss. Finally, I did a big chop and decided to start my natural-hair journey.

Relearning what it's like to love my hair

It has been 12 years now since that experience. My natural-hair journey has not been linear but instead consisted of redefinition and reeducation. After doing my big chop, I had to learn about products and make sure that what I was using on my hair was good for it, and I decided to forego the tight styles that had gotten me into this situation in the first place.

Over the years, the Black-hair space has continually been revolutionized, which is empowering for Black women like me. It's because of this that I have found and enjoyed some great products specifically formulated for Afro hair, such as those from Adwoa Beauty and Treasure Tress. I have also educated myself through exhibitions like "The Black Hair Experience." The process of rediscovering what really works for my hair and what I specifically need has been eye-opening.

Tina at the Black Hair Experience
Charisma at "The Black Hair Experience."Courtesy of Tina Charisma

Hair loss can affect anyone, but it's imperative that we are all equally equipped to address it. No matter our backgrounds, we all should be able to show up as our authentic selves, hair texture and all. My natural-hair journey has become one of self-love and -care that I have decided to take responsibility for by embracing it and nurturing it.

Read the original article on Insider