While relaxing is not a lost hairdressing technique, many women are afraid to tame their curls as they believe that relaxers will damage their hair. Jennifer Jackson, Senior Manager of Education at ORS Hair Care, explains that it’s not the relaxer that causes damage, but the incorrect technique used and improper maintenance of the hair.
Whether you do it yourself, involve a friend or head to the salon, these tips for relaxing will ensure your hair is kept beautiful and healthy.
1 Get educated
Make sure your expectations of a relaxer are realistic. While the purpose of a relaxer is to remove unwanted curl, you don’t have to get your hair 100% straight. It’s important to retain some curl pattern and elasticity in your hair. You want to loosen the curl pattern so your hair is more manageable and easier to comb.
2 Choose the right relaxer
The choice of relaxer depends on the type, texture and porosity of your hair as well as the sensitivity of your scalp. If you have a sensitive scalp be sure to use a no-lye relaxer. If you have fine or medium textured hair, choose a normal strength relaxer. For coarse hair, choose a relaxer with extra strength.
3 Be prepared
After you’ve chosen a product, read the instructions and warnings thoroughly! Make sure you have all the equipment you’ll need: relaxer base, activator, neutralizing shampoo, conditioner and styling products. Other tools you will need include towels, a mixing bowl, spatula or applicator brush, gloves, a comb and clips.
4 Always use protection
Make sure you protect your scalp, hairline, ears and neck with a petroleum base (like Vaseline) before you start applying the relaxer. It closes the pores of your skin, preventing the relaxer from causing irritation. Don’t forget to protect your clothes so that you don’t stain or damage them, and always wear gloves!
5 Master the application
The best way to apply relaxer is by sectioning your hair into four quadrants and clipping it in place so that you have clean sections to work. If you’re relaxing your hair for the first time apply the relaxer from roots to ends, but if you’re just doing a touch-up, only apply the relaxer to your regrowth. Start the application at the center of your head and apply the relaxer as close to the scalp as possible, using either an applicator brush or the back of a comb.
6 Perfect your timing
Start timing from the moment you begin the application. The processing time depends on the texture and density of your hair. Follow the instructions indicated on your specific product. Remember: It is a myth that a relaxer must burn to be effective. If your scalp starts burning you need to rinse it off immediately, then shampoo and condition.
7 Post application
Rinse your hairline and neck first before moving on to your hair. Make sure that you have thoroughly rinsed your hair, for a minimum of five minutes, before applying a neutralizing shampoo to stop the chemical process. After you’ve applied conditioner, comb it through to ensure it’s distributed evenly.
8 Keep up the maintenance
Proper hair maintenance is always important, but even more so if your hair has been relaxed. Regularly clean and condition your hair, and get it trimmed every six to eight weeks to prevent split ends. Wait for a minimum of six weeks after relaxing your hair before you repeat the process.
If you think you can skip the conditioning process, read these reasons why conditioner is not just an option. Want your hair to be as shiny and healthy as possible? Check out these 7 things natural hair needs.