The process of relaxing hair includes the application of chemicals meant to break down protein contents. This process removes the invisible defensive layer of hair.
These chemicals cause dryness, weak hair, and breakage.
Relaxed hair should be given extra care to make it stay healthy, smooth, bouncy, and split end free.
African hair, mainly, requires particular attention and handled gently because the relaxing process makes it fragile making it vulnerable to chemicals and heat. Fortunately there are ways to mitigate this damage, leaving it healthy, robust, and looking like the hair you love.
Relax your Hair Every 8-16 Weeks
Resist the impulse to relax your hair every time new growth appears. Frequent relaxing leads to severe hair and scalp damage. Use a reconstructor instead of a conditioner for one week after relaxing your hair before switching to regular shampoo and conditioner. Using gentler at-home hair relaxers can also cause less damage than salon treatments.
Wash and Condition Hair Once or Twice Per Week
Wash your hair with a mild and gentle shampoo and a good moisturizing conditioner. Shampoos that are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate free are recommended for relaxed hair. A deep conditioner with protein and moisture should be used at least once per week.
Co-Washing (conditioner-only washing)
Since frequent shampooing can lead to dry hair, co-washing is a gentle alternative to shampooing. It is best done with a light moisturizing conditioner. Co-washing cleanses and refreshes hair without robbing off natural oils from the scalp.
This is one of the best options to preserve healthy relaxed hair. After washing your hair, wrap it with a silk or satin scarf or bonnet. Alternatively, tie your hair into a loose bun. In case you want to blow dry, let the hair dry partially before using a hairdryer, and then use it on a low-heat or cool setting.
Relaxed hair should be deep conditioned once every two weeks. This hydrates relaxed hair, making it strong, healthy, and shiny. Deep conditioning should be done from the ends and avoid reaching the scalp as much as possible. Cover your hair with a plastic cap and use a hooded dryer, leaving the conditioner to sit for approximately 30-45 minutes under low heat setting.
The body will produce heat and warm the conditioner, increasing absorption. Protein-based conditioners strengthen the hair and replenish proteins stripped off during the relaxing process. Deep conditioning should not frequently be done, as it will cause hair breakage.
Hot oil treatment
This improves moisture and adds body to the hair. Warm some coconut, olive, or jojoba oil and gently massage into the hair. Use a plastic cap to cover and let it sit for 30 minutes then rinse.