Hey lovelies, hope you are all well. Thank you to all my new subbies, hope everyone is sticking to the rules of the Birthday Hair Growth Challenge. I thought to do a post on relaxer precautions to help those who may be unaware of how to prepare their hair for a relaxer. A relaxer is a chemical which usually contains sodium hydroxide (lye formula) or guanidine hydroxide (no lye formula) and can therefore be extremely harmful if it not used properly. Relaxers work by using these powerful chemicals to penetrate the cortex and break the disulfide bonds, thus straightening the hair. Once these bonds have been broken, the process is irreversible and the hair will be straight until it grows out or is cut.
Therefore prior to relaxing your hair it is important that your hair is not damaged to begin with. If your hair is breaking and is in bad shape do not think a relaxer will fix the problem. To ensure that your hair is properly protected prior to a relaxer, the following steps can be implemented:
1. Clarifying wash: If you are going for an almost bone straight look then it is important that you wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo with contains sulfates at least one – three weeks prior to relaxing it. This will thoroughly cleanse your hair of any dirt, debris and such which will in turn lead to straighter and longer lasting relaxer results.
2. Protein treatment: One or two weeks before your relaxer, fortify your hair to be able to withstand this chemical process by using a good protein deep conditioner after washing it. A protein treatment is necessary because it strengthens and rebuilds the hair.
3. Wait for at least a week after washing your hair before relaxing it: This is one of the most important tips; do not relax your hair immediately after washing it or after waiting for a few days. If you relax your hair too soon after washing it you will experience relaxer burns, hair breakage and such. Leave at least a week interval prior to your relaxer, I personally wait for about two weeks.
4. You may flat iron/straighten your hair: This is optional. However for those who have stretched their relaxer for a longer time say twelve weeks and upwards, it might be easier to straighten the hair particularly the new growth prior to relaxing it to reduce manipulation and hair breakage during the relaxer process. For example if your hair dresser is not the most patient of people, straightening your hair prior to relaxing it may be beneficial, also if you self relax it might be easier for you to work with straightened hair.
5. Do not scratch your hair: It is very important that you keep your fingers out of your hair from about two days before relaxing your hair, this is regardless of how tempted you may get. Scratching your scalp before relaxing it will only result in relaxer burns. I have some experience in this and they have not been pleasant ones.
6. Wait at least a week after taking out braids, weaves: Ensure that you do not relax your hair immediately after taking out a long term protective style. It is good to wait for some days so that your hair can recuperate after all the stress it has been put through. It is necessary to do an intensive deep conditioning treatment after taking down such hairstyles rather than relaxing the hair immediately. Relaxing the hair soon after taking off the style may result in hair breakage and relaxer burns.
7. You can base your scalp: As an extra precaution you can choose to base your scalp with a light oil, however if you want something heavier you can try shea butter. Please note that something like shea butter may actually result in your new growth being under processed. Therefore make sure that when you are basing your scalp, any product is used sparingly except if you are going for more of a texlaxed look. You can use other products such as Vaseline, hair cream, it just depends on your preference. Extra care should be given to sensitive areas such as the hairline, nape, tops of ears, edges to prevent chemical damage.
8. You can protect the rest of your hair: You can apply product to the rest of your hair to prevent the relaxer from getting to your previously relaxed hair. Protecting the hair this way will prevent over processing, hair breakage and chemical damage to the hair. Products that can be used include hair creams, conditioners and so on.
Hope this post has been beneficial, kindly share how you all take care of your hair before relaxing it. Are there any mistakes you have made that others might learn from or is this all new to you? I will do a post soon on relaxing hair properly.
“Because you lie beside me now, I dream of kites and carousels and sleep at peace within myself and fear the night no more…” – Robert Sexton