So many of you write to me asking for tips and tricks for managing your own relaxed hair, so this post is dedicated to answering the most frequently asked questions I get about relaxed haircare. Bookmark this page so that you can refer to it in the future when you need a little hair help.
Relaxed hair…*DEEP SIGH* can be frustrating! The dryness, the breaking, the over-processing….it’s no wonder so many people decided to stop this hair treatment and go natural. That being said, more people are returning to relaxing due to its convenience and styling ease. You can have healthy, happy relaxed hair – you just need to know how to take care of it properly.
Ok! Let’s settle in and answer some questions!
How often should I relax my hair?
A good rule of thumb is to relax your hair every two to three months. This allows for enough new growth for a safe relaxer treatment. If you relax your hair too quickly between relaxers, you will risk over-processing your hair which will cause breakage.
The same can happen if you wait too long in between relaxers. That line of demarcation in between relaxed hair and natural hair is a stress point where breakage is most likely to occur (other than the ends). If you would like more information on how to avoid over processing, watch this video:
How long should I stretch my hair for?
Personally, I do not stretch my own relaxed hair. I find it causes my hair to break, and the extra care it needs to keep the new growth soft and tangle-free is just too much. I am TOO BUSY to be fighting with my new growth daily!
I always recommend sticking to a relaxer schedule of every two to three months, but you really must pay attention to your hair health in between relaxers. You need at least an inch of new growth to relax safely or you risk relaxing already relaxed hair. Hair grows on average 0.5 inches a month/six inches a year. If you hair grows slowly, relax less frequently and vice versa.
Watch this helpful video on stretching your relaxer:
How often should I deep condition my hair?
You should be deep conditioning your hair EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU WASH YOUR HAIR. This will hydrate and soften hair, making it more manageable, minimize damage, reduce dryness and facilitate detangling.
Why is my relaxed hair breaking?
Ok – I get this question daily and I cannot answer it with certainty without looking at your hair, knowing your haircare routine and which products you use.
That being said, often times breakage is caused by over-processing hair during relaxer treatments (leaving the relaxer on too long and/or overlapping the relaxer cream on already relaxed hair).
It could also be due to under-processing your hair (not leaving the relaxer on long enough, leaving hair coarser). Underprocessed hair is bad if it is done unintentionally, leaving you with “patchy hair”. In most cases, the under-processed patches break at the line of demarcation with straighter hair.
Uniformly under-processed hair (which can also be known as “texturized hair”), is typically stronger than fully relaxed hair, and looks beautiful too (better volume with some wavy character).
You could also be using the wrong products such as conditioners that aren’t hydrating enough, not using heat protectants with heat tools, overuse of heat tools, not detangling hair properly during wash days, not caring for your scalp, neglecting to get regular trims – you name it.
To pinpoint what is breaking your hair, try hair journalling! Each day, jot down how your hair feels after using your haircare products, during washes, etc. That is a great way to eliminate things that aren’t working and boosting the use of those that do.
Other things that break your hair:
- Not using a bonnet or silk pillowcase while sleeping
- Not moisturizing and sealing your hair regularly
- Split ends
- Bleaching hair/using permanent hair colour with your relaxers
- Not using protective styles
- Leaving protective styles such as braids in too long
Can I colour my relaxed hair?
Yes – but semi-permanent colour is best. My stylist covers my grays with a semi-permanent colour each time I relax my hair. It is much more gentle that permanent colour.
Permanent colour is typically quite damaging to relaxed hair as your natural hair colour is stripped from hair using bleach, then the desired colour is deposited back into your strands. Relaxed hair is already more fragile than natural hair, therefore adding another harsh chemical process is just too much for the hair to handle leading to breakage.
When should I trim my hair and how often?
My stylist recommends a light “dusting” (a tiny trim – a millimetre/two millimetres or so) each time you relax your hair. This right here saved my hair. The split ends never have a chance to take hold!
If your ends are already split, bite the bullet, get yourself a good hair cut and proceed with regular dustings every other month.
Which deep conditioner should I use?
Use a deep conditioner that is thick and formulated for dry and damaged hair. Even if your hair is not damaged, I find that these heavy duty moisturizing hair masks are great for hydrating relaxed hair.
Personally, I steer clear of hair products that contain protein as my hair is protein sensitive. When I use too much protein, my hair becomes flat, lifeless and crunchy. It then starts to break which INFURIATES me.
Aussie 3-Minute Miracle is my deep conditioner of choice as it is protein-free and does a great job quickly. It’s also super affordable.
Why is my hair so limp and lifeless?
Your hair could be over-processed. Over-processed hair tends to look flat and dry. When your hair becomes so dry that it changes colour (reddish-brown), you know you have some work to do.
You may also be using too much product. Greasy, heavy products not only weigh your hair down, they aren’t great for scalp health.
A good clarifying shampoo session may be in order to strip the hair of product that is weighing it down.
Lastly, great hair starts from the inside. Take a good look at your diet and make tweaks where you can. Eat more natural, unprocessed foods, drink more water and take your vitamins. If you suspect a possible health issue, consult your doctor.
How did you find a good hairstylist?
I was lucky! My mother is friends with my hairstylist and suggested that I go see her for a haircut when I was 15 years old. My mother knew that she was a fantastic stylist and trust her implicitly.
I CANNOT stress enough the importance of checking references and reviews before booking an appointment with a salon and a stylist. If you can, book a consultation in advance of your hair appointment too. Make sure you understand the salon’s policies as well. If you are unhappy with your service, do they provide refunds? Would they be willing to remedy a botched service, etc.?
What should you look for in a great stylist? Ensure that he or she is attentive, actually executes what you wants, doesn’t diminish your concerns or won’t listen to your requests and that he or she is punctual. I understand that some stylists can run behind due to things that are out of their control, but someone who is routinely late or doesn’t show up at all (this actually happened to my girlfriend with a Toronto-based stylist), RUN!!!!
Who is your hair stylist?
My hairstylist is the inimitable Gloria Miller at Hairworld Ottawa. The salon is located at 1033 Maitland Avenue, Ottawa, ON. You may book an appointment by calling (613) 224-7272.
What is the best protective style?
What is the best protective style?
The best protective style for you is totally subjective. It all depends on your lifestyle and the look you want to achieve. For me, low buns work well because I like to wash ‘n go. They are also so convenient for working out.
Some women love braids because they are pretty low maintenance and beautiful. Others wear wigs for their versatility.
All of these have pros and cons. Low buns can break your hair in the centre. Braids are high tension and can ruin your edges. Sew-ins and braids can also caused matting if not properly taken care of. Wigs can be super expensive. You need to weigh all of this a determine what’s best for you and your lifestyle (and your wallet).
My hair is so dry. How can I fix that?
Again – deep conditioning regularly is so important. Minimize the use of heat tools. Direct heat can suck the moisture right out of your hair leading to breakage. Learn hair care ingredients too. Some are very drying or coat hair so that better ingredients cannot work properly.
Also, don’t over wash your hair. Washing your hair too frequently or even washing it too much until its squeaky clean will dry your hair out completely too.
Baby your hair. Use the best products you can afford. Don’t go overboard with protein-laden haircare. Don’t sleep on cotton pillowcases without covering your hair with a silk or satin bonnet.
Do you wash you hair in the shower or the kitchen sink?
I always wash my hair in the shower. This is my personal opinion and no shaded to the kitchen-washers, but I just cannot wash my hair in the same room that I prepare food in. NOPE.
What haircare products do you use?
These are the products that I use:
- Shampoo: Keracare Conditioning Detangling Shampoo
- Deep Conditioner: Aussie Three-Minute Miracle
- Detangler: Unite 7Seconds Detangler
- Leave-in Conditioner: Olaplex No. 6
- Hair Oil: Ouai Hair Oil, Moroccan Oil Treatment, Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil
- Moisturizer: Luster’s S-Curl Curl Activating Moisturizer
I burned my scalp during a relaxer treatment. What do I do?
Don’t use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing. Gently pat the burn with a cotton pad or gauze. You may cover the burn with a thin layer of petroleum jelly as needed.
Aloe vera gel is very soothing as well if the burn is dry uncomfortable.
A few ways to minimize chemical burns from relaxers are to stay cool before the treatment.
Do not workout the day of your relaxer. If it is really hot outside, stay cool until your treatment! Sweating opens your pores and increases the chances of scalp burns.
Do not wash your hair until the burns heal and refrain from scratching and picking at the scabs. If not, you will run the risk of reopening the wound and getting an infection.
I hope these answer your most frequently asked relaxed hair questions. Please feel free to leave any more questions in the comment box!
Do you wash out your relaxer in the shower? And if so, do wash your body with neutralizing shampoo after? Doing my hair in the shower is super convenient but I can not figure out how everyone is protecting their skin when rinsing their relaxer in the shower. Thank you for this post! I’m trying to get my hair back right after my horrible postpartum shedding.
The only time I have ever relaxed my hair, I rinsed it out in the shower. That caused minor burns on my face, shoulders and back. Never again. I doubt I will ever relax my own hair again because it was just such a crummy experience.
I would always recommend washing out your hair in the sink to avoid body burns!
How do you protect your hair during winter from the dry brittle air and the cold? How do you care for it in the winter months?