So now you understand what relaxing actually entails and hopefully that has heightened the importance of a true care regime between relaxers.
Most relaxer kits recommend how long you should go before you retouch your hair. One of the main reasons for this recommendation is because your scalp needs time to recover from the harsh treatment created by the chemicals used while relaxing. Another important reason is because you have now permanently straightened your hair, you need to wait a sufficient time for new hair growth before you can permanently straighten it. The ‘6 week’ period given is done so with the general understanding that hair grows at about ½ an inch a month. Ideally you should retouch your hair when you have an inch of new growth. Anything less than that is likely to lead to over processing because the chemical will more than likely go on the actual relaxed hair.
What is over processing you ask? Over processing is when you retouch already relaxed hair. As we’ve explained, relaxing is the ‘controlled’ weakening of afro hair to change its chemical make-up so that it loses its natural curl and develops into a straight style, permanently. Putting relaxer on already relaxed hair will continue the weakening activity. This is why hair breaks a lot when you have over processed your hair.
It is critical to ensure you leave sufficient time between relaxers, even if your hair dresser hasn’t straightened it sufficiently. Waiting the 6 week period – at least – will do more good to the overall health of your scalp and hair.
Enjoying your hair
I believe that as you embark on a journey to healthy hair, even if you aren’t there yet, you should have license to enjoy styling your hair. I am experimental with my hair and this album is evidence of it. You can see that my hair wasn’t at its healthiest, but I still enjoyed styling it. This is also a great way to increase understanding of your own hair. So I highly recommend it.
The tough part
After the first few weeks of enjoying styling your hair, you realize that your hair is growing. This is clearly evidenced by the new growth. This is always an exciting stage for me, yet it’s also a challenging one. I have to start being aware that I’m dealing with two different textures of hair.
My new growth, is healthier and thicker than my relaxed hair. For those using castor oil, your new growth is coming out the thickest and healthiest it can be. This again is fantastic, but also presents a challenge.
More caution and vigilance is required in sticking to a hair care regime that offers sufficient moisture to the hair, treats the scalp and seals in all the moisture to curb all forms of dryness which will cause hair to break. The Back 2 Health and Castor Oil challenges manage this really well. Most of you would have or are currently on one of these regimes. Hopefully by now, you’ll understand your hair more and know how frequently it needs to be moisturized to curb breakage. It’s also critical at this stage to wash your hair frequently. I always suggest weekly.
Stretching between relaxers
Stretching is the act of going more than the recommended time between relaxers. It’s becoming a very popular approach amongst women that would like to see their hair grow.
What women are doing now instead of retouching after 6 weeks is go 8 weeks to 12 months without retouching their hair. When they do retouch their hair, there is a feeling of instant growth. Some people stretch their relaxer out, as a way of moving across to natural hair. Others because their scalps are so sensitive to relaxers (scalp burns quickly) or they just think it’s safer for their hair to wait being retouched until its really necessary.
This all sounds lovely, and something that we should all be doing, but it’s a lot of hard work. Because the textures of your growth and relaxed hair are different, the more growth you have, the more likely it is that your hair will break, even if you are doing the normal Back 2 Health and Castor Oil challenges.
A lot needs to change with your routine if you go down this route, I’ll articulate point by point. Because of differing hair textures, requirements of natural hair will be slightly different to your relaxed hair:
- You’ll have to understand that ‘protective styles’ are your friend
- 100% glycerin on your natural hair is a requirement as it softens that hair more.
- Glycerin and Aqua based moisturisers may need to be substituted with the products you currently use
- You will have to increase your moisturizing technique
- Low manipulation is key with any of the hairstyles you create
- Finger comb more than using wide toothed combs
- Contrary to popular belief, the use of heat here is still not ideal.
- Rather, while your hair is wet, push it back.
- Add your glycerin mixture to the hair (smoothing it down).
- Then tie a dookie (which should flatten your hair),
- Tie the loose ends into a bun after moisturizing it
- When your hair is dry (or the next morning) take the dookie out, and use glycerin to smooth any rough edges
- Co-Wash more frequently
- Spray your new growth with glycerin and aqua based moisturisers daily (at the front) for neatness when you tie back and to minimize breakage cause of dryness
- Deep condition
- Wash hair weekly
In summary, between relaxers is THE time for you to ensure that your hair remains healthy by ensuring it’s hydrated, soft and manageable. The longer you leave between relaxers, the more challenging it is to minimize breakage.
For those new to hair journeys, check out my hair challenges. This will help you understand what true hair care is about and how it will change your life…..well your hair’s life anyway.
Here’s a protective style tutorial that really works for me.
Sunshyne talks about stretching