Relaxers - the essential DOs and DON'Ts

By Drum Digital
03 September 2014

Unfortunately, most women are unaware of the mistakes being made while having their hair relaxed, even by professionals.

We all know relaxed hair is damaged hair. It requires the utmost care as it's been chemically processed.

Here are some guidelines on what to avoid doing before and while relaxing your hair.

Shampooing Before

Cleansing or even wetting your hair and scalp before you relax will lead to burning once the chemicals are applied. No matter what your regular cleansing routine is, do not shampoo your hair for at least one week before a relaxer application. Also avoid scratching your scalp or "lifting dandruff”. Leave your scalp completely alone.

Forgetting to Detangle

Work through your new growth with your fingers first. You may want to try this the night before your touch-up so that your scalp has a chance to rest. After a gentle finger detangle, use a wide-tooth comb to work only through your hair. Stay off your scalp as much as possible. Comb through all the way to the ends, but don't overwork a section. Detangle and move on.

Working in Big Sections

Use the tail end of a fine-tooth comb to gently separate sections; don't create parts. Only use the comb to lift sections so you can apply the relaxer to the new growth. If your hair is detangled, you shouldn't have a problem separating small sections into 1-inch areas.

Overlapping Chemicals

This is one of the most important problems to avoid, but it's also one of the most difficult to get right. Although the line of demarcation between the new growth and previously relaxed hair may be obvious, it's still hard to be as precise as you can when placing a relaxer only onto the new growth. If you relax without help, it's especially difficult to avoid over-processing on the back part of your head. Not only should you enlist help for touch-ups, you should try to visit a professional for this whenever possible.

Combing the Relaxer Through

Part of the relaxing process is smoothing the chemicals onto the hair. Smoothing, not combing. Combing can lead to severe breakage. Only use your fingers to smooth the chemicals through.

Leaving Chemicals on Too Long

Leaving your hair to process for a period of time shorter than the recommended one is much preferable to leaving the relaxer on longer than suggested. Have a timer handy; this isn't the time to eyeball a clock.

Not Using Neutralizer

There's a reason you buy relaxers in a box: everything you need should be included. More important than the conditioner or mixing stick is the neutralizing shampoo. You cannot use your regular shampoo to stop the relaxing process. If you do, expect to see major breakage and hair falling in the coming days and weeks. A neutralizer stops the relaxer from continuing to work on your hair, and essentially eating through it. One of the issues some women face is that a small bottle of neutralizing shampoo isn't enough for their long and/or thick hair. If you routinely relax at home, do yourself a favour and purchase a separate bottle of this product at your local beauty supply.

Skipping Conditioner

Once the relaxer and neutralizing shampoo is completely rinsed away, don't skip the critical step of conditioning. Processing your tresses places stress on them, and they need to be restored and treated well after relaxing. You'll probably have a small bottle or packet of conditioner in your relaxer kit, but feel free to apply more of whatever you have on hand, including a deep conditioner.

-BLACKHAIR

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