So I went ahead and retouched my hair on the 9th of October – I stretched my relaxer for 10 weeks. I think the longest I’ve ever gone between relaxers. I’ll go through how I relax my hair, but before that I think it’s my moral responsibility to take you through what relaxing ACTUALLY does to your hair.
What is relaxing hair?
Now what are you actually doing when you’re relaxing your hair? The answer to this question is a real eye opener and hopefully will get you to understand why you need to follow all the instructions to the tee. ALWAYS.
Definition of a relaxer – ‘A relaxer is a type of cream generally used by people with afro textured hair, which makes hair less curly and also easier to straighten by chemically “relaxing” the natural curls. The active agent is usually a strong alkali, although some formulations are based on ammonium thioglycolate instead. The relaxer is applied to the roots of the hair and remains in place for a “cooking” interval, during which it alters the hair’s texture by a process of controlled damage to the protein structure.’ Get more indepth information by clicking here.
Now, basically what its saying is that relaxers are created to straighten afro curls and by doing so, actually damage the hair. It’s ‘controlled’ damage as long as you follow the rules of applying, time and wash out appropriately then committing to treating your hair in between relaxers, then you will be able to enjoy relaxed hair. If you’re not committed to this, you really need to think about whether you should be putting your hair through this harsh chemical treatment at all. There are alternatives to straightening hair now, with the Brazil Keratin Treatment.
I came across Skin Biology a great resource on skin and hair care. They have a long article on what you’re truly getting into when you do decide to relax your hair. They also do sell products, but the information there is very accurate. Check out this article, ‘The Truth about Hair Relaxers’. Let me know what you think.
What it highlights for me is the understanding that you need when you decide to embark on this journey. And it’s scary that our hair dressers aren’t checking the health of our scalp and hair to determine whether we’d be a good candidate to actually get our hair relaxed. The significance of hair consults just increased tenfold.
My personal story
I started getting my hair relaxed at 13. We didn’t live in Zimbabwe, and it was getting increasingly difficult to find someone who would braid my hair. So my sister (sitting in our bedroom) relaxed my hair. We followed the instructions to the tee – and I still go through instructions any time I relax my hair. Neither I, nor my sister knew what that would mean in terms of committing to a hair care regime. I just did what most people do, I used wax, petroleum, grease, and when I wanted to really take care of my hair, I used Dark N Lovely moisturiser.
They say you should go to a professional to get relaxed, but it’s sad to actually admit that I get the worst results when I trust a ‘hair professional’, so I just do it myself. I assess my scalp, the health of my hair, I make sure I have all the things I need to get ready for the application, I have an after relax hair care regime that’s working…and I build back protein in my hair constantly, either with my ApHogee treatments or the use of coconut oil. I am my hair professional. I’ve had to, because our hair dressers do not know nearly as much as they should about this ‘controlled damage’ mechanism that they are applying on our hair.
I’m also hearing more stories of knock-offs and cheaper versions being sold to hair salons (well in Zimbabwe and Kenya at least), and that’s so discouraging. So I urge everyone that reads this to go to reputable hair shops to purchase your relaxer, go to a trusted hair professional and be diligent about creating and committing to a hair care regime in between relaxers.
When applying the relaxer itself, be careful not to alter any of the directions whether it is the application steps, amount of time you leave the product on your hair or any other steps in the process. Adjusting any of the instructions could lead to adverse results or side effects with the extreme cases being burnt scalps and traction alopecia. Burnt scalp sensation is not normal. If you continually experience this, start looking at your scalp’s health, the way your hair is being relaxed. Go back to basics and ensure you’re always doing right by your scalp and your hair.
You do not want irreversible damage to be done to your hair.
Happy Hair Journey ladies!