At Love. Nurture. Grow., we advocate for natural hair. Why? Because it can take the stress of our styling choices much better than hair that has been relaxed, permed, texturized, or colored. Hair that has been chemically processed is weakened by the alkaline solutions in these treatments. The alkaline solution breaks the strong disulfide bonds in your hair and reshapes and reforms it into the desired texture. This process leaves your hair extremely fragile and dry. Therefore, you must take extra precautions than if you want your relaxed hair to grow long and healthy.
Don’t double process relaxed hair
Double processed hair means hair that is relaxed and then colored or vice versus. Doing one chemical treatment on your hair is bad enough, but doing two is a recipe for disaster. If you want to keep your hair on your head, do not double process your hair.
Only relax virgin hair
This refers back to the previous tip, but it bears highlighting on its own. I’ve seen women, even stylists, apply relaxer to hair that has already been relaxed for sleeker results. This is an absolute no-no because this would be double processing your hair. You want your hair to be as strong as possible so under no circumstances should you do such a thing.
Relax new growth every 3 to 5 months
I had a relaxer when I was in middle school so I know how hard it can be to wait until you have enough new growth to relax your hair. Dealing with two textures is a pain, but for the long-term health of your hair, it is worth it. If you don’t wait long enough in between relaxers, you will end up relaxing previously relaxed hair, and you should know by now that is an absolute no-no. Wait as long as possible in between relaxers. The longer, the better, and your hair will thank you for it.
No direct heat on relaxed hair
I’ve seen this crime committed against relaxed hair far too often. You should never apply direct heat to relaxed hair. No flat irons. No curling irons. If you wanted to use direct heat, why get a relaxer in the first place? Your hair is already straight and using heat will cause it to break and become dry. There is a reason why women who relax their hair rarely have hair below their shoulders. To add texture to your relaxed hair, get your hair wet set and sit under a dryer. To wear your hair straight, get a blow out using a round brush and a hairdryer.
No weaves or braids
By now, you should be beginning to see a trend here. Relaxers and other chemicals weaken your hair, making it harder to withstand your daily hair styling routines. Weaves and braids can damage natural, virgin hair, but they inflict even more damage to relaxed hair. Braids and weaves put a lot of tension on the hair strand due to how tight they need to be to make the hairstyle look nice and clean. This tension causes breakage. If you have relaxed hair, just say no to weaves and braids and stick to wet sets and blowouts.
Only use color rinses
Women with relaxed hair can experiment with color in the form of color rinses. Rinses are temporary and can even add a little strength to your hair when done. However, they can only change your hair color a few shades (unless you have light hair). Color rinses will also make your hair look shinier and healthier.
Do regular protein treatments
Relaxed hair needs protein more than any other hair condition so it is important for you to make regular protein treatments a permanent part of your regimen. Do a protein treatment at least 24 hours before you relax your hair. For a hardcore protein treatment, use Aphogee’s Two-Step Protein Treatment (For Professional Use). It can be difficult to work with so you may opt for Nexxus’s Emergencee instead.
Regardless of what protein treatment you use, follow up with a deep, moisturizing conditioner with little to no protein such as Theorie’s Helichrysum Nourishing Hair Mask. Apply the mask to your hair, cover it in a plastic processing cap, and sit under a bonnet or hood dryer for 20 minutes. Rinse and place your hair in a bun or ponytail. 24-hours later, relax your hair per the directions. Rinse out the relaxer and wash your hair with a neutralizing shampoo until there is no longer a trace of relaxer in the hair.
If your hair begins to show signs of split ends or breakage, do another protein treatment followed by a deep moisturizing treatment. Monitor your hair’s moisture and protein levels very closely. (This is something that naturals/women with virgin hair do not have to do.) It is very easy for relaxed hair to get too much moisture or too much protein.
Relaxed hair that is too mushy is too moisturized and requires a protein treatment. Relaxed hair that is too dry, stiff, and dull needs a deep moisturizing conditioner to inject moisture back into the hair. As a general rule, do a protein treatment once a month and make all your other treatments deep moisture treatments.
Trim your hair regularly
Since relaxed hair is so much more prone to split ends and breakage, you need a trim schedule that you strictly adhere to. This will prevent your ends from looking rough and uneven. To maintain your current length and style, trim your hair ½ an inch every 4 to 6 months. This schedule keeps up with the average rate at which hair grows. If you want to grow your healthy, relaxed hair longer, trim your hair ½ an inch every 3 months.
In conclusion, caring for relaxed hair can be a challenge. It is a lot harder to have healthy hair that grows when you are relaxed. The chemicals in relaxer, perms, and texturizers break down and weaken the strong disulfide bonds of the hair. This doesn’t mean that long healthy hair is impossible if you relax your hair. Instead, it means that you must take extra precautions and choose styling choices that will keep your hair healthy and thriving. If you follow the tips above, you will be well on your way to achieving and maintaining healthy hair that grows.