Healthier Relaxed Hair…Now!

african american woman twisting her long hair

( — For a lot of women, relaxing their hair is like cooking: they don’t think deeply about it, they just do it as they saw it done growing up. Imagine the number of middle age women putting a relaxer in their hair today. Now, imagine how many of them have never fully read the instructions.

If you want your hair to be healthier (and still keep it relaxed), it’s time to do a little better than that.

Relaxers: What You Need To Understand

We can start by understanding that there is nothing natural about using chemicals to straighten kinks into bouncy bristles. Relaxing your hair is a chemical process. Your hair, like everyone else’s, has a certain amount of natural elasticity. This gives it the ability to stretch and to bounce back. This means after relaxing, when you have moved on to styling, you will be pulling and tugging on straight strands that are altered from their natural state and stripped of their nutrients.

In many cases, the process is conducted in a way that makes day to day contact with the hair too stressful and eventually it breaks. So, the best way to prevent post relaxing breakage is to understand your hair and the product you’re using.

Relaxer Strength

Relaxers are available in mild, regular, and super. There are different strengths for different hair needs. Realize that a super strength relaxer is not designed for those who want to merely improve their results.

Each hair shaft, or strand of hair, consists of overlapping layers. When you apply a chemical, such as relaxer, it causes those layers to rise so that the product can penetrate. A super strength relaxer is designed for a person with thick and coarse or resistant hair. When hair is resistant, stronger chemicals are needed to open the hair shaft.

Those whose natural hair is of average thickness and manageability should use a regular strength relaxer. Mild is for those with thin or fine hair that requires a minimal amount of chemicals.

Relaxer Application

When you apply relaxer, the product should not be put near the scalp. Application should begin about a ½ inch above the scalp. There is no need for concern. The product will expand, and combined with your body heat, it will reach the skipped area.

Furthermore, relaxer is only meant for new growth. The effects are permanent, so applying more relaxer only encourages damage. To prevent it, if you are not confident in your ability to limit the application of the product to the virgin hair, you should put an oil or conditioner on your processed ends for protection.

After The Relaxer Application

It is essential to use a neutralizing shampoo afterward. Remember, relaxing is a process that needs to start and stop. If you skip the neutralizing shampoo, you skip the stopping point – and headed straight for a seriously damaged head of hair.

You will also need a nutrient-rich moisturizing conditioner. Relaxers rob your hair of natural moisture and nutrients. There is no way to avoid it, so you have to replace what has stolen if you want healthy hair. In addition, you need to continue nourishing your hair until the next wash.

Relaxed Hair Care

Do not over-relax. Though six to eight weeks is normally the minimum recommended time frame between perms, the decision should actually be based on need. If there is minimal new growth or if you are still able to manage your hair to your satisfaction, hold off and allow as much time as possible between chemical processes.

Color with caution. Also, avoid getting a perm before permanent hair coloring. Both of these processes involve using strong chemicals that open the hair shaft. You do not want to do this twice within in short period. Doing so can severely weaken the hair. So, at least two weeks should lapse between a perm and chemical coloring.

Braid with care.
Finally, be careful getting a relaxer directly before braids. Some hair, especially that which is fine, may be too fragile to withstand the combination.

Cover if you can. For added protection– which is recommended– cover your hair with a silk scarf or cap when you go to bed. If you are a thoroughbred diva and can’t bear to the thought, get silk or at least high thread count sheets. It will help to reduce the rubbing and pulling stresses that can occur during sleep.