The hair relaxing process involves the use of chemicals designed to break down the protein bonds in your hair. To do the job, the chemical straightener needs to remove the invisible hair’s protective layer. This can result in dry, porous, and breakage-prone hair.
To ensure that your relaxed hair stays bouncy, smooth, and frizz-free, proper care and maintenance are very essential.
Black hair requires very gentle handling because relaxing makes this type of hair very fragile and prone to damage from heat and chemicals.
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How to Treat Relaxed Hair
It is important to thoroughly rinse with water to completely get the chemicals out of your hair. The relaxer is a rather strong chemical that, if left too long on the skin or scalp, will cause severe chemical burns. Any trace of a relaxer that is left on your hair will continue to process, causing your hair to break. That’s why all traces of relaxer residue must be rinsed away.
After rinsing out the relaxer proceed with the neutralizing shampoo to eliminate all traces of relaxer that are still active in your hair. Active ingredients in the neutralizer will penetrate the hair shaft and stop the relaxer from working in the hair. Leaving the neutralizing shampoo in the hair for a few minutes helps restore chemically-treated hair to the natural pH balance.
Relaxers leave your hair very, very vulnerable. After rinsing out the neutralizing shampoo, apply a protein conditioning treatment to fill in the cracks in the hair shaft. The relaxing process leaves the cuticle opened, so your hair will be ready to absorb and replenish the lost protein.
Some stylists prefer doing the protein treatment immediately after rinsing out the relaxer and before the neutralizing shampoo.
Some hair professionals suggest doing Olaplex Stand-Alone Treatment instead of a protein treatment, to reconnect broken bonds in your hair and prevent shedding.
How to Wash Relaxed Hair
Shampoo your hair twice a week and condition it after each shampooing. Use a moisturizing, sulfate-free shampoo and a highly moisturizing conditioner formulated for chemically treated hair.
After applying the shampoo, gently massage the scalp with your fingertips. Make sure not to use your nails. Using your nails can create tangles and cause breakage.
Apply conditioner and let it work for five to ten minutes. Untangle the hair using a wide-toothed comb. Work from the ends to the roots, with the conditioner still in your hair.
When you have finished combing rinse hair with lukewarm water. Use cool water for mid-lengths and the ends of your hair to seal the cuticles and to prevent frizz.
Wrap a soft towel around your head to remove water from the hair. Don’t squeeze or wring out your hair, just let the towel gently soak up the excess water. Follow with a cotton shirt and leave it on for 10-15 minutes.
Always use a leave-in conditioner after washing and conditioning relaxed hair. Make sure to detangle your hair thoroughly at this stage.
Take a small amount of coconut oil between your fingers and coat the ends of your hair. Coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft to help retain moisture inside the hair.
Co-Washing Relaxed Hair
Shampooing too often can dry out chemically treated hair due to harsh detergents in traditional shampoo formulas. If you want to wash your relaxed hair more often than twice a week, “co-washing“, or “conditioner-only washing” is a gentler alternative to shampooing. This no-shampoo method can be done with a lightweight moisturizing conditioner, that cleanses and refreshes your hair without stripping the scalp of its natural oils. Washing with a cleansing conditioner adds moisture to your hair instead of taking it away, and can even be done daily.
Air drying is the healthiest option to dry your relaxed hair. To help your hair stay straight, wrap it into a cross wrap and tie it with a satin or silk hair scarf. Another way to get straight hair without heat is to smooth all the hair back into a loose bun.
For a nice, wavy look, the roller set is the best way to keep hair smooth without using too much heat. You can also put your hair in a braid and leave it that way until it is dry.
If you do blow-dry, let your hair air-dry partially before using the hairdryer. Put your blow-dryer on the lowest heat setting and hold it at least ten inches away from your hair. Also, make sure to constantly keep the device in motion.
Deep condition your relaxed hair at least every fortnight. Relaxers strip the hair of its natural oils. Deep conditioning helps rehydrate chemically treated hair and makes it strong enough to withstand styling. Coat your hair in the conditioner, starting from the ends. For best results, use a plastic cap and go under a hooded dryer. Let the conditioner sit for up to 30-45 minutes using a low heat setting. You can also put on a plastic cap and leave the treatment overnight.
Apply a protein-based deep conditioner once a month to strengthen your hair and to replenish the lost protein. Make sure not to do protein treatments frequently, as too much protein can cause your hair to become weak and brittle.
Adding hydrolyzed proteins to your shampoo or conditioner can be very beneficial for relaxed hair. Chemicals relaxers can leave hair extremely dry, brittle, and prone to tangling and breakage. Hydrolyzed proteins added to your hair care products have the ability to fill in damaged areas in the cuticle layer. This strengthens your hair from within and reduces the risk of breakage.
Do a hot-oil treatment on a weekly basis to add extra moisture and give body to your hair. Gently warm olive, coconut, or jojoba oil, and massage into your freshly washed hair. Wrap your head in a plastic shower cap and leave the oil on for half an hour before rinsing.
Bed Time Care
Relaxed hair requires special care for bedtime. Conventional cotton pillowcases tend to rob the hair of moisture, and can cause friction and tangles. Sleeping on a satin pillow keeps your hair from getting tangled and prevents dryness. If you don’t have a silk or a satin pillowcase, tie your hair in a bun or wrap it in a silk cap. Apply a leave-in serum to the ends to keep them moisturized while sleeping.
MY RELAXED HAIR NIGHT-TIME ROUTINE by Healthy Hair Junkie
Avoid using heat when styling your hair, as the high heat can cause relaxed hair to become very dry and prone to breakage. You can style your hair occasionally, using a high-quality, ceramic flat iron with adjustable heat controls. Be careful, because repeated usage of flat iron can burn relaxed hair.
When you are using a curling iron, hold the barrel cover slightly open – so the hair simply passes over the barrel without being tagged or pulled by pressure from the barrel cover.
Use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to gently detangle your hair. Never use a brush while your hair is still wet because brushing vet hair can cause breakage. Gently brush with a boar bristle brush and avoid pulling and tugging on your hair. Over-brushing relaxed hair can cause split ends and hair breakage.
Wearing relaxed hair down daily is not advisable. Protective styling is one of the best ways to minimize hair breakage. Wearing the hair in a protective style helps hide the ends from harsh elements and from rubbing on your shoulders and clothes. Popular protective styles include buns, chignons, braids, twists, and weaves. Create protective styles that will last at least for a few days with minimal touch-ups and give your hair a rest from styling.
Dying Relaxed Hair
You should wait at least two weeks after a relaxer service before applying permanent hair color. If the hair is brittle and prone to breakage, permanent hair color is not recommended.
Because chemical relaxers are so harsh on hair, consider picking a dye that doesn’t require bleach or ammonia. Restore color vibrancy and shine with a tinted conditioner, or use temporary and semi-permanent colors as well as ammonia-free hair colors. These colors can be used immediately following a chemical relaxer. Apply hair gloss or hair glaze to revive color and add glossy shine.
To cover gray hair, use demi-permanent hair color. To hide your gray roots between color services use the temporary root touch-up products – like root touch-up sprays, color wands, and color touch-up powders.
Keep your hair trimmed to remove dry split ends and uneven growth. Regular trims will prevent further damage to your hair. Get a trim every 2-3 months.
In order to increase your hair’s protein content, eat healthy meals, and incorporate a lot of protein-rich food into your diet. Drink plenty of water to keep your hair hydrated from the inside. Your hair will be healthier and resistant to breakage.
How to Avoid Over-Processing
Before the next relaxer service, make sure it’s been at least 10 weeks since your last touch-up. Applying relaxing treatments more frequently could lead to breakage and thinning. When retouching, only relax your new growth. Don’t use strong formulas every time you get your hair relaxed.