Tips for Thicker and Stronger Relaxed Hair
Though I am a natural hair blogger/Youtuber, I give a lot of advice to women with relaxed hair. I started relaxing my own hair at age 10. Needless to say, I had no idea of what I was doing and the misguidedness lasted all the way to age 25. When I became informed on how to properly relax my hair thanks to social networks like Hairlista.com and the book The Science of Black Hair Care, I decided to transition to natural.
On my relaxed hair journey, I was able to properly relax my hair twice before transitioning to natural. However, I saw a huge difference in my hair. The thickness doubled, I no longer suffered from scab wounds, and my hair grew past shoulder length. The tips in this article in addition to the videos “15 Relaxed Hair Tips” and “12 Little Known Tips for Hair Growth” which are two of the most viewed videos on my Youtube channel, are valuable information for relaxed hair care.
Is the perm box not as much a part of our culture as the Afro pick? We have to recognize that even as we celebrate the acceptance and love of our God-given hair textures that “real” Black aesthetics are as diverse and different as the shades of our skin.
-Jamilah Lemieux, Content Editor, EBONY.com
Assess Hair Health
Preparation for a relaxer can start up to a week before. Adequate amounts of moisture and protein is needed for your hair to withstand the relaxer process. Strengthen your hair with a protein treatment 5-7 days before relaxing. The type of protein treatment depends on the state of your hair. If you have healthy to mild breakage, use a light protein. If you have moderate breakage, use a moderate to intense protein. If you have extreme breakage, refrain from proceeding with the relaxer process and utilize reconstructing and moisturizing treatments until the state of your hair is back healthy. Putting a relaxer on unhealthy hair will cause it to be even more damaged. Follow the protein treatment with a moisturizing deep conditioner.
Scalp health is just as important as the health of your hair, especially with a relaxer. Far too many of us have suffered from scalp burns that left us with flaky and painful scabs. Ensuring that the pores of your scalp are closed will prevent irritation. Hair Care Blogger Jay of RelaxedThairapy.com says “Did you know the pores of your scalp can remain open for up to 72 hours after you have washed your hair and/or perspired during a workout? Having open pores during a relaxer touch-up can cause scalp discomfort in the form of tingling, burning, and irritation. Consider letting your scalp rest 3 days (5 days to be safe) before your next touch-up to minimize the potential for scalp discomfort. This means, no washing your hair or high impact workouts the days leading up to your relaxer.”
Choosing a Relaxer
All relaxers are not created equal. Relaxers are either no-lye or lye and varies in strengths from mild, regular, and super. Jay of RelaxedThairapy.com breaks down the different types of relaxers perfectly in this article here. It’s important to find a relaxer that your hair likes and stick with it. Two relaxers may both be mild and no-lye, but one may have a stronger pH or result in a different degree of straightness.
We all know that relaxers will cause some degree of damage to your hair. Broken disulfide bonds and protein loss can make hair feel limp and weak. A revolutionary product called Olaplex, has been designed to rebond disulfide bonds in chemical processes like color, perms, and relaxers. A little bit can be added to the relaxer solution as well as applied right after the relaxer has been rinsed out. Many people have raved that Olaplex has made their hair stronger and best of all, they are still able to achieve desired results. Next time, you visit your salon, ask your stylist to add Olaxplex to your relaxer service. Learn more about using Olaplex with relaxers here.
To prevent scalp irritation and weak spots along the hair shaft, apply the relaxer 1/4 of an inch away from the scalp. Heat emits from the scalp and can cause the relaxer to process faster. Wait until 2 minutes right before you plan to rinse the relaxer out to smooth the relaxer down to scalp. When applying a relaxer to virgin hair (hair that hasn’t been previously relaxed), leave 1/4 of an inch near the scalp and also the last inch of the ends free of relaxer until the last few minutes of the process. The ends are very porous and straighten faster.
Relaxing hair not only changes its curl pattern, but it also decreases its natural protein. To reinforce the hair shaft and minimize breakage, I found that a mid-relaxer protein treatment (MRPT) was extremely useful. You will not find this step listed within the instructions of your relaxer kit, but a lot of professionals utilize this technique in salons. It can make a huge difference to the overall health of your hair post relaxer.
What is a MRPT? It is a light protein treatment done right after the relaxer has been rinsed out of the hair and before applying the neutralizing shampoo. Since the cuticles of the hair shaft are the most open during this time, product can readily absorb into the hair shaft. This is the perfect time to add a light protein treatment and leave it on for 3-5 minutes. Not only is it strengthening your hair, but it will also aid in neutralizing your hair. “The protein acts as a filler for limp hair to bring back what the relaxer stripped,” says hairstylist ReRe of BeautyIzWithin.com who has been in the cosmetology field for over 16 years. If you use a no-lye relaxer, follow the MRPT with a neutralizing shampoo, then a chelating cleanser (optional, can be done on next wash day), and a moisturizing deep conditioner. If you use a lye relaxer, follow the MRPT with a neutralizing shampoo and a moisturizing deep conditioner.
A light protein treatment is recommended on your next wash day post relaxer. Post relaxer is all about having a regimen that gives your hair adequate strength and moisture, retains length, and uses little to no heat. Relaxers also changes the hair’s porosity. ACV rinses can help to minimize porosity and help the hair to retain moisture. Stretching the time between relaxers helps to limit the exposure to chemical and gives your hair a rest. Trims and protective/low-manipulation styles help relaxed hair to thrive!
Lemieux, Jamilah. Foreword. If You Love It, It Will Grow. By Dr. Phoenyx Austin. Print.
Davis-Sivasothy, Audrey. “Chemically Relaxing Textured Hair.” The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care. Stafford, TX: Saja, 2011. page 203. Print.
Bautista, Keila. “Procedure of Virgin Relaxer.” Web log post. INSO Hair School. 05 July 2013. Web. Accessed 17 Oct. 2016. www.insohairschool.com/posts/113.
Olaplex. “Olaplex Education Webinar!” YouTube. Olaplex, 08 Apr. 2015. Web. Accessed 17 Oct. 2016. www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-fP5hkYvdw.