In the past few years, there was a wave of people transitioning or going form relaxed/ chemically treated hair to natural hair. This movement brought with it information on How to..for natural hair and just like that, how to care for relaxed hair was not a thing anymore.
Not everyone can hack the natural hair maintenance challenges and prefer the easy to work with relaxed hair. Relaxed hair does grow too and can be healthy, full and long if you give it the right care. Here are 12 very important things to know and incorporate in your regimen if you haven’t yet for you to have long and healthy relaxed hair.
Before we go into detail, you need a hair care regimen. With this, i mean a routine of how you prepare your hair for washing(Detangling and parting), Washing, conditioning through to how you protect your hair before you sleep.
I would advise you to treat your hair as damaged…because it actually is through the relaxing process.
Now that we have established that, lets get right to it then you can pick those you need to add into your regimen.
1. Protein treatment
For relaxed hair, you definitely need a good protein treatment. This is because, the process of chemically straightening your hair breaks down the protein bonds which actually give your hair its strength and texture.
A protein treatment or deep conditioning is more so essential to chemically treated hair to give it strength, prevent breakage and bring back its elasticity.
This treatment can be done on the same day of relaxing or a week after. You should be careful with it though because unnecessary use of it can be contra-productive and you can end up with dry and brittle hair.
“My personal recommendation is, if you are an every week washer, you should use it every time you wash and keep observing your hair if it needs moisture (your hair feels dry, weak and tangled) or protein ( your hair feels stringy, sticky or limp). The Best practice is to alternate the conditioners.”
By this i mean, you should use it when your hair needs it. Click here to read more about protein treatment.
There are a lot of these in the market but my all time favorites are:-
2. Moisturizing treatment
This is also very essential for healthy hair and more so for chemically straightened hair because your hair has been stripped of it`s natural oils that keep it soft.
Get yourself a good moisturizing treatment and a light moisturizing conditioner. Details on Dos and Don`ts of moisturizing treatment here. Depending on your hair needs, you should use one of these after every shampoo to restore moisture to your hair.
- Deep moisturizing conditioner – You are required to wear a plastic cap and apply heat for 10+ minutes(depending on the instructions provided) for better absorption.
- Light moisturizing conditioner – Heat isn’t required and the time you leave it on your hair is up to 5 minutes (depending on the instructions provided.
If you are still in search for a good one, these are my tried and tested recommendations.
1. Shea Moisture manuka honey and mafura oil intensive hydration hair masque.( Deep moisturizing).
2. Mega growth deep strengthening treatment. ( Deep moisturizing).
3.Ogx Renewing Argan oil of Morocco conditioner (moisturizing).
3. Protective styling
This is very important when caring for relaxed hair. First of all, your hair ends are the oldest and weakest part of your hair and you should keep them away from any environmental conditions that may cause damage.
Whenever you have your hair open, try as much as possible to keep your ends away from your collar because the friction takes the oil and moisture away causing dryness and frizziness. This will eventually lead to split ends and breakage hence stagnation. And you wonder why your hair “doesn’t grow” past shoulder-length.
Buns and up dos are great. I know from time to time you wold like to just let loose and feel the wind blow across your hair lol. Its alright but make sure to have your ends away from your collar as much as you can.
There are several ways to do protective styling. All about protective styling is here. You will surely find something that suits you.
TIPP! I would advise you to braid your hair at least 4 weeks post relaxing your hair to give your hair a chance to gain some fresh growth which is stronger than the relaxed parts and can withstand braiding tension better.
This is a great way to gain healthy hair and volume. By stretching i mean prolonging the time in between relaxers. By so doing, you will have a better view of the demarcation point (Where the relaxed hair and new growth meet) for your retouch lowering the risk of overlapping.
Ideally, you shouldn’t do a touch up sooner than 6 weeks. I recommend at least 12 weeks in between depending on your hair texture and how well you can manage two textures. You can always add an extra week or two from your previous frequency to twice a year. If you want to start stretching, you may wanna read the following tips before you start.
- Do it gradually – By this i mean adding a week or two to your normal gap between relaxers until you are comfortable dealing with 2 textures. Don’t start from 12 weeks to 18 weeks suddenly. This may be challenging because you will need to learn how to manage 2 textures with long hair.
- Little manipulation – During stretching, the demarcation line is very fragile and most of the time hair breaks at this point making your hair look thin. Try as much as possible to wear hairstyles that will not need you to manipulate your hair daily or frequently. For instance, in between the durable protective styles like braids, wear a bun for a week and just lightly brush the sides to keep it fresh.
- Wide tooth comb – AVOID the tiny teeth combs. In fact, you should just do away with them lol! Always use a wide tooth comb to detangle or comb your hair.
- Moisturize and Seal – Especially the new growth and your hair ends. This makes your two textures manageable because moisturizing will generally make your hair soft and easy to comb. To do this, you don’t need much. Just a spritz bottle and an oil of your choice. Put water in the bottle and spritz a bit through your hair to moisturize. Follow up with abit of oil to seal the moisture in and you are good to go.
- Gentle detangling – Be gentle with your hair and take your time to detangle in parts and not all at once.
- Consistency. – During Stretching, stick to the products your hair likes. Its not the time to try new products because you are not sure of the outcome. You may end up damaging your hair instead.
- Know your limit. – Don’t push yourself too hard when you feel like you can’t do it any longer. One person can stretch for half a year and your hair drives you crazy after 4 months. Just do your touch up and don’t stress yourself too much about it. That’s why i said, be gradual when you begin so you can know when enough is enough.
5. Hot oil treatment./ Oil Rinse.
Hot oil treatment
You can do this from time to help your hair absorb the nutrients in oils better. A hot oil treatment is done before shampooing by generously applying warm oil or oil mixture of your choice to your scalp and some to your hair. .
Wrap your hair in a plastic cap and sit under a hooded dryer for 15 – 20minutes or wear a conditioning cap and leave on for 15 – 20 minutes. Rinse off with a mild shampoo so that you don’t completely wash all the oil away.
This treatment can be done every other wash day depending on your hair needs.
This is done between shampooing and conditioning hair to replace the oils ripped off through shampooing making the hair soft. Personally i prefer adding the oils in my conditioner to shorten the process but get similar results.
In my process, you shampoo your hair, put enough conditioner for your hair in a container and add your heated (warm not hot) to it. Mix well and apply to your hair from scalp through roots to your hair strands and ends generously.
Wrap your hair in a plastic cap and sit under a hooded dryer for the recommended time on the instructions manual of the conditioner or wear a conditioning cap and leave on for the required conditioning time then rinse off with lukewarm water.
I prefer the oil rinse to hot oil treatment because i believe my hair gets to keep most of the oil goodies since i will just rinse off and not shampoo. You can try both and pick one that you prefer.
DO NOT do both in one wash. Its either or.
6. Washing/ Shampooing.
Before you wash your hair, detangle your hair properly with a wide tooth comb. The Best way is to part your hair in 4 to 6 portions depending on how thick your hair is for easy manageability.DO NOT comb all your hair at once.
Shampoo your hair in portions to ensure maximum penetration of shampoo to all parts of your scalp and hair. This will make your work easier when it comes to detangling after washing since your hair is already in parts. It also reduces the risk of breaking hair since you will be working with a manageable size of hair.
First of all i wouldn´t recommend you do this on your own unless you have someone around who will help you do the back where you can’t see or you are well experienced in it. Chances are high that you will overlap the previously relaxed hair which will weaken it and eventually lead to breakage.
It is best to go to a hairdresser to get this done but unfortunately not all know how to do this. It is important for you to know the right way to do a touch up so that you can help the hairdresser in case you see some red flags.
During a touch up :-
- Follow the instructions on the user manual.
- Part your hair into four sections.
- Ensure that you protect your previously relaxed hair by putting an oil on it, more on the ends just in case some chemical spills over.
- Apply relaxer ONLY on the new growth.
- DO NOT exceed the recommended time on the product instruction manual.
Your relaxed hair is basically “damaged” hair and should be treated as such for you to have healthy hair. Ensure that it is moisturized at all times to protect it from breaking. Dry hair is like dry straw, breaks easily.
Use a moisturizing lotion every time your hair feels dry. When your hair is open moisturize it every day in extreme temperatures like winter and summer and every other day in moderate temperatures like in spring and autumn.
The Best thing to do is to moisturize depending on your hair needs. Sometimes more sometimes less. Bottom line, to keep your hair moisturized.
After moisturizing your hair, you need to seal in the moisture. You can use any hair oil of your choice to do so. Part your hair into 2 or 4 sections. Put a little oil on the palm, rub and apply from roots to ends. Put a little more on the ends because it is the oldest and most fragile part of your hair.
10. Trimming / Dusting ends.
Yes, i said it. You need to trim or dust your hair ends at least once a year or when it has split ends and look weak. By so doing you will save yourself from the need to cut off more inches from your hair due to split ends that spread through your hair shaft.
Trimming is cutting off up to an inch of your hair whereas dusting is cutting about a centimeter or so of your hair. Do not trim if it is not necessary. Trim or dust when your hair needs it. Too much is also counter-productive if you are trying to retain length.
Wrapping your hair before covering helps retain the straightness for a longer period. It also keeps the ends away from your nape which will protect them from breaking and frizzing.
To wrap your hair, you need a wide comb and a hair brush.
- First you part your hair from the center of your head to the front.
- Comb your hair away from your head forming some kind of hat.
- With the wide comb, from the front of your head where the part is, comb your hair clockwise or anticlockwise from front to back through to the front again.
- Use the brush and follow the same direction to form some kind of beehive. Voila!
12. Satin Bonnet.
This is the best way to protect your hair when you go to sleep. A satin pillowcase is also an option but its abit cumbersome when it comes to traveling. With a bonnet, you are sure to protect your hair from cotton pillows.
A satin bonnet is soft and when you turn your head during your sleep, your hair is safe because it will slide and not break your hair. The fabric will also keep moisture in your hair unlike cotton which will absorb it leaving your hair dry and the friction will eventually break your hair.
- Leave in Conditioner
I am not really a fun of leave in conditioner. I prefer deep conditioning and frequently moisturizing and sealing. I feel that adding a leave in conditioner in your regimen is just too much conditioning ( if that makes sense).
But if you choose to use it, apply a few days after your wash day instead of a moisturizing hair lotion but not both. Either or. You can use a small amount of oil of your choice to seal it in.
The process of drying your hair may also cause breakage. Make sure to avoid heat as much as possible. Best practice is to air dry after towel drying with a Microfibre towel or T-shirt.
Avoid hot irons or use as sparingly as possible. Your hair is already damaged and you dont wanna add strain to it. Use rollers and sit under a hooded dryer or wrap your hair instead. If you really have to, you can try ,The CNXUS MCH Heating Ionic Straightener Brush. as an alternative. More about it here.
There might be more ways to care for your relaxed hair that haven’t been mentioned here. However, these are the ones that i have personally done and worked for me and those i shared with.
As you have seen, the important thing is to keep your hair moisturized and avoid over processing your hair. Stretch as much as you can and keep your hair protected. Create your own hair regimen that works for you and add tips here and there.
Following someone else`s regimen may be tiring, frustrating, complicated and not sustainable. That’s why it is good to have your own simple one that you know will not be frustrating to follow through.
I hope you enjoyed reading through and picked up a few tips that will help improve the health of your hair. Feel free to add some more tips that i left out in the comment section or you can click here to contact me for more information. I will be glad to read and respond to you.