Growing up in the state of Florida I can confidently say beach life doesn’t excite me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the beach air, sun on my skin, and the breeze off the waves of the water. It’s just, water basically surrounds itself around Florida and all my life the beach or lake has been a weekend trip for us. The myth of growing up hearing “black people don’t swim,” continued to hold a love and hate effect on me. I grew up in a city with a water park and it seemed my cousins and I nearly lived there for some years. We would jump, dive deep, and swim until we couldn’t stomach the smell of chlorine. Then again, during college, I attended pool parties where no one step foot in the pool. I started hearing explanations that black girls don’t want to get their hair wet. Seems plausible. Have we not hit the “swim hair don’t care,” stage yet?
Do black women hate for there hair to get wet? It depends. Before I chose the natural route I remember my hair stayed hot combed. This lady that my grandmother loved for me to go to, held the title of hot combing queen in my opinion.
Being up there in age didn’t stop her from running the hot comb pristinely through my thick hair. The hot comb for her imitated a magic wand to a magician. Don’t get me wrong. Now, at my age, I know the hot comb badly damages the African American hair. But I will not deny her skill. Yes she burned me, yes she talked too much, but when she finished my hair transformed. We called her Mrs. Queen.
One day after getting my hair to straighten by Mrs. Queen I went to the hair salon because I wanted to cut my hair in a style for the first time. That year I would enter middle school and I wanted a new look. I never knew the dynamic of the do’s and don’t for when I got my hair straightened other than don’t play in the sand because the grease made the sand stick more. My mom and grandmother never talked hair with me. So when the women dipped my newly straighten hair in water to wash it after the cut I felt unnerved by the fear in their eyes. They didn’t know what to do. My silky hair transformed to knotty thickness.
When my grandmother came back from the store and explained my hair was straighten with the hot comb they looked amazed. They never saw hair that straight from a hot comb before. My thick kinks needed re-straightening. Though, it never looked exactly like what Mrs. Queen did.
Black Women & Wet Hair
So, why are some black women hesitant about getting their hair wet? If they just pressed or blow-dried their hair, water of any kind, including sweat, makes there hair coil, kinky, and even shrink.
I no longer have that problem since I transitioned to the natural state and locked my hair up. Now if I am ever hesitant of getting my hair wet it is because I dread drying my locks. It really depends on the mood I am in. With the water and sun double-teaming me, my energy seems to drain and all I want to do is eat and sleep after a good swim.
Then at times when my hair and skin come in sync with the water and sun, I love diving in the coolness and glistening from head to toe when I resurface. I capture some of the best pictures when my dreadlocks are drenched with ocean water.
African Americans should stay aware of Hygral Fatigue that can create damage to our hair as well. This is when your hair is over “watered”. Understand that our hair isn’t designed to shapeshift constantly and that is exactly what happens to it when our hair gets wet!
Salt Vs Chlorine
Does salt damage your hair? It defiantly can! Lots of people use a pre-swim treatment before they swim in the ocean. I don’t. Once I am done with the beach than I began my treatment. Saltwater can dehydrate your hair because of the salt content. Make sure you wash and apply your moisturizing resume for your hair after you take a dive in that big blue sea
Chlorine is especially a killer to African American hair. Most of us don’t, but swim caps should be worn when swimming in a chlorine swimming pool. Chlorine damages the hair and even breaks the hair off completely. If you are swimming in a pool, chlorine needs to be completely washed out. So that means if you swim every day you need to wash your hair! Here are some of the damages that can be done to your hair because of chlorine.
- cause split ends
- weaken hair strands
- change your hair color
- snatch natural oils out your hair
So, swim hair don’t care? For me, it’s a yes. When I am swimming whatever my hair looks like it is what it is. For all those who are wondering yes, black women do swim and they do exercise. When it is time to get our hair wet its time. When it’s not it’s not!