I was just reflecting on the reason why I went natural, which was because I had unhealthy relaxed hair. So I figured if I left it undisturbed, my poor thinning hair would regain its once lush, thick, healthy state. But as you most know, by the time I went natural there was some improvement but my hair was still unhealthy because I did not fully understand healthy hair care.
Knowing what I know now, I realised I could have kept healthy relaxed hair if I knew the tricks and science of healthy hair care. This post is dedicated to those who are just about giving up on their relaxed hair but aren't ready to go natural. Relaxed hair can be healthy too. So why would a natural head be writing about relaxed hair care? Well I don't discriminate across hair types. I just want everyone to have the healthiest hair possible whether it is relaxed or natural. I've also realised that we can each learn something from each other. Lastly, the basics of healthy hair care are generally the same for both relaxed and natural, with the exception of a few rules. So why not spread the love?
Into the post we dive!!
1. Don't leave the relaxer in until your hair until it burns
Most of us equate burning with straight and fully relaxed hair. Many a hair dresser will tell you it's not time to rinse if it's not burning. Well that's not true. A relaxer breaks down certain proteins in your hair which allow it to straighten permanently. Burning simply means the chemicals in the relaxer are breaking down the proteins on your scalp skin. So try as much as possible to avoid leaving it to burn. Most instantly remember the wincing as you rinse and the scabs you have for the next few weeks after you relax. Just smooth until you have the desired straightness, probably 15 to 20 minutes maximum ( for course hair). And then rinse out. You will find that not only will your hair be thicker over time, it will also be stronger.
2. A fine toothed comb is not your friend
It really isn't, all it does is pull at your hair and cause more breakage. The gaps between the teeth are so small that they will pull all the strands together and create high resistance which in turn leads to broken hair. Only use it to part.
In that same vein...
3. Comb from the ends to the roots
If you start at the roots, you pull all the knots together and form a bigger knot. This makes it harder to comb through and you use more force. More force is applied and as you pull harder you break the hair. Think of it this way, whenever you untangle a knot you always start at the end and work your way in, instead of pulling it tighter and tighter. Start at the ends.
4. Unplaiting and relaxing on the same day/ relaxing and plaiting on the same day or the next day will weaken the hair.
Once you come out of a protective style (weaves, braids, cornrows, wig) you need to do a protein treatment (link to deep conditioning post) and give your hair at least a week to gain strength. The same is true after relaxing, your hair is at it weakest. Deep condition after you shampoo the relaxer out, then give it a week to gain strength before you protective style again. You will find that your hair will suffer less breakage when you plait it and will be stronger overall.
5. Natural oils are better than commercial pomade/grease/hair food
Castor oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and many others in their pure forms have so much more benefits for the scalp and hair. They can reduce dandruff, aid growth, help with conditions like scalp psoriasis and eczema and nourish your scalp. Buy the pure oils, or oil mix blends.
Commercially produced hair foods, have added ingredients like petrolatum, petroleum and mineral oil (which are basically vaseline) that form the bulk of the product. These ingredients have NO BENEFIT for your scalp, and usually end up clogging pore and follicles. In addition, because they form the majority of the product, it is hard for the actual oil which the products are said to contain to actually benefit and reach your scalp and hairline. Check your ingredients list and eliminate hair foods which contain them.
7. Use a leave in conditioner to moisturise your hair and seal with a natural oil to lock in the moisture.
Doing this at least 5 times a week will make your hair sooooo much more stronger, nourished and healthier. It will keep dryness away and reduce breakage.
8. Trimming is not the enemy
I repeat trimming is not the enemy!!
Having said all this would I relax now.......?
Well despite the occasional though to relax, i'm really in love with my curls, so I don't think it would be on the cards any time soon.
Happy relaxed hair growing