Hair relaxers are a common treatment used to provide you with smooth, straight hair. In this article, we’ll explain what to do before relaxing your hair to ensure it goes smoothly.
What Is Hair Relaxer?
A hair relaxer typically comes in the form of a cream or lotion and it’s used for the purpose of straightening the hair.
This works by breaking down the hair strands and altering the natural curl pattern.
There are Lye and No-Lye relaxers. The latter is a more suitable option for people with sensitive scalps because the pH is lower.
Typical Lye relaxers are between 12 – 14 on the pH scale.
This treatment is best suited for people with curly hair who are looking for straight, sleek hair on a long-term basis.
As only one treatment is needed to begin with, it can be a more preferable option to using hair straighteners more frequently.
Reasons to Relax Your Hair
Hair relaxers can be a more convenient way to have shiny, straight hair that lasts for a longer time.
Here’s why you should consider relaxing your hair:
It’s Low Maintenance
The main benefit to having your hair relaxed is how it doesn’t require much upkeep.
Using hair straighteners and applying leave-in creams or styling gels can take up a lot of time and they may not provide the long-lasting results that you’re looking for.
With straight, sleek hair, many people find it easier to style and maintain their hair in the long term. This can save precious hours throughout the week.
Less Frizz, More Shine
When chemical relaxers are applied to the hair, the cuticles are forced to lay flat, which reduces frizz and makes hair feel smoother.
Less frizz leads to fewer knots and tangles, which makes it easier to comb through the hair and style it.
Can Lead To Less Damage
Relaxing the hair can be a better alternative to frequently using hair straighteners. Heat styling tools can dry out the hair and make it appear dull over time.
As they don’t achieve long-lasting results, many people will use them daily or every other day to maintain straight hair.
But this can damage the hair and cause breakage. Relaxing the hair doesn’t need to be done very often, which means you can minimize any damage and have long-lasting results.
Another benefit to relaxing the hair is that you don’t need to comb and style the hair as frequently, which can lead to fewer knots and split ends.
What To Do Before Relaxing Your Hair
To ensure that you limit damage and irritation to the hair and scalp, you must follow a certain routine.
Here’s what you need to do before relaxing your hair:
1. Detangle Your Hair Frequently
Detangling your hair in the week leading up to your treatment will ensure that you don’t encounter any scalp irritation.
It also means that the lotion or cream can be applied evenly and coat all of the hair with ease.
When detangling the hair, use your fingers, and a wide-tooth comb to separate any knots or tangles.
Try to avoid the scalp area as much as possible, especially on the day of your relaxing treatment, as this can put unnecessary stress on the scalp, leading to sensitivity or burning.
2. Remove Extensions And Braids
The week before you have your hair relaxed, you should remove all hair extensions, this includes weaves and braids.
By doing this, you give your scalp a much-needed break and allow it to breathe in the days leading up to the appointment. This will prevent irritation and damage to the scalp.
3. Use A Protein Treatment
It’s a good idea to use a protein mask a week before your hair relaxer as a way of prepping the hair and reducing breakage.
Any chemicals that you put on the hair can break down the natural proteins, causing your hair to feel stringy, limp, and dull. Applying a protein mask helps to improve the strands’ elasticity, making them stronger and able to withstand chemical treatment.
4. Clarify The Hair
A week before your hair is relaxed, use a clarifying shampoo or rinse to remove all debris, excess sebum, and product build-up from the hair and scalp.
Not only does this improve the overall health of your hair and scalp, but it allows the relaxer to penetrate the hair more effectively since there will be no build-up to inhibit absorption.
5. Moisturize Regularly
Clarifying the hair can cause the hair and scalp to feel a bit dry, so you should replenish any lost moisture with nourishing oils like olive oil and jojoba oil.
By doing this you’re conditioning the hair and protecting it against the harsh effects of chemicals, thus reducing the damage to the hair and scalp.
Things You Shouldn’t Do Before Relaxing Your Hair
Avoid Hair Washing
It’s important that you avoid washing your hair with shampoo or conditioner for at least a week before you get your hair relaxed.
Your scalp needs to be able to rest and prepare to undergo chemical treatment.
If your scalp is free of product and irritation, this puts it in the best condition for a hair relaxer, which will minimize irritation.
Avoid Chemical Dyes
The chemicals in hair dyes dry out the scalp and can cause irritation, so they should be avoided for at least 2 weeks prior to your hair relaxer.
This is important because if the scalp is already dry or irritated, then putting more chemicals on the scalp can lead to further damage.
If this happens, you may experience redness, itching, and flaking. Allow your scalp to breathe and heal between chemical treatments.
Avoid Strenuous Activities
If possible, try to refrain from activities that can cause excess sweating, as this can lead to a build-up of sebum on the scalp.
If this occurs before your appointment, it can cause the scalp to become irritated and itchy after the relaxer has been applied.
How Often Should You Relax Your Hair?
To protect the health of your hair and scalp, you should refrain from touching up your hair too frequently. It’s advised that you wait for at least 8 – 10 weeks to allow your scalp to rest and for new growth to appear.
Some people find that they can wait up to 12 weeks before needing a touch-up, but this depends on how the hair is maintained between treatments.
Maintaining Your Hair between the Treatments
When you use chemicals on your hair, it will be more susceptible to damage and breakage. Here are the best methods to keep your hair healthy and prolong your treatment.
Stop Using Heat
The benefit to relaxing your hair is that you can reduce how often you need to use heat styling tools.
For many people, it’s just not necessary, since the hair typically remains straight and sleek with minimal effort.
Chemicals will weaken the hair follicles and make them more prone to damage, which is why you should avoid heat, as this will lead to split ends and breakage.
Do Touch Ups At The Right Time
Touching up your hair too quickly will result in damage and breakage, but not touching up the hair when new growth appears can also cause damage.
Everyone’s hair is different, so you should speak to a hairstylist for some advice.
They can keep an eye on new growth and advise you when it’s time for your next relaxing appointment.
Deep Condition Your Hair
Chemicals will dry out the hair with each treatment, so it’s important that you regularly deep condition the hair to restore moisture and keep it healthy.
Use gentle hair masks and hot oil treatments that can penetrate the hair strands and provide deep hydration, as this will keep your hair looking shiny and straight for longer.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals In Shampoo
After your hair is relaxed, it is more vulnerable, so you should consider switching to gentler hair products that are free of sulfates, parabens, synthetic colors, and drying alcohols.
Avoid using mousses and dry shampoo as they can dry out the hair and scalp and cause product build-up, which will result in your hair becoming duller and weaker.
To avoid your hair becoming too dry, you can stick to co-washing, as this will be a gentler process that results in less damage.
Do Protein Treatments
To avoid your hair becoming weak and dull, you should incorporate a protein treatment into your hair routine once a month.
This is a great way to restore shine to the hair while strengthening the strands and improving elasticity.
It’s not advised to use a protein mask more than once a month as this can actually cause the hair to become dry and stiff.
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Coralle is an experienced beauty writer with a passion for wellness, women’s health, and sustainability.