Here are the DOs and DON’Ts of chemically processing (relaxing, texturising or texlaxing) your hair. If you ignore these tips you risk permanent hair loss caused by chemical burns, so read over everything even if you think you know this already. A gentle reminder doesn’t hurt.
It is a common myth that kinky/afro textured hair is the strongest, so people tear the comb through it not realising that they are breaking the hair off. The part of the hair shaft where relaxed/texturised meets natural is VERY delicate. The way our hair twists and turns means that there are more opportunities for it to break than in straight hair.When you are separating your hair before processing, be GENTLE.
Wait months between applications
On hair care forums the women with waist-length chemically processed hair are usually the ones who wait 3+ months before applying chemicals again. When you apply chemicals over previously processed hair it leads to breakage. I’ll use bread to explain why. When you put a slice in the toaster and it comes out nice a golden. However, put the slice back in and toast it again and again and again… exactly, a burnt mess. Do you want the same for your hair?
When you use harsh chemicals like bleach you always use gloves, right? Do the same with relaxers. If the chemicals are harsh enough to break the bonds in your hair, can you imagine what they will do to your skin? Some hairdressers also wear a mask to block out the smell, so don’t be embarrassed about doing the same.
Leave until/if the hair is burning
If I dropped an iron on your hand, would you sit there and watch it burn? Exactly, so NEVER sit and let the relaxer burn your scalp and hair off. If you hairdresser ignores your pleas to wash it out, get up and do it yourself, and remind her/him that negligence WILL get her/him sued.
Scratch before applying
One time I scratched my scalp three days before relaxing, and it still ended up burning. If you scratch your scalp, don’t risk getting hurt! Push back your chemical application by a week or more. It’s only seven days.
Reapply over chemically processed hair
Every time you apply the relaxer to hair it breaks down the bonds until the strand is straight. Therefore, there is no need to reapply the relaxer on that part of your hair. If you do, the relaxer will start breaking the bonds again, but this time, because the hair is already straight, the bonds are pushed to BREAKING point. Eventually your hair will break off completely.
Look down on different hair types
Some black people still harbour ill feelings towards natural hair. Leave those ignorant thoughts to the slave era and come to the present. Don’t ask naturals to straighten their hair! They are old enough to do as they please, and you wouldn’t like it if they asked you to go natural, would you? Your hair is lovely (or on its way to being lovely) but some people want to buy what you’ve grown. Respect their decision to do so. You never know whether their concealed hair would turn yours green with envy.
Use odd looking relaxer kits
If your favourite relaxer was always pink, but this week is it beige, STOP! Read the instructions and leaflets provided. Do they mention any changes to the ingredients list? If not, go online and check their official website. If it’s not there either, check on hair care forums. If no one has mentioned or posted about it, post a message asking.
If you have done the above and found no reason why the relaxer has changed the colour, you most likely have a dodgy relaxer kit. This could be because the box was sitting in the shop/warehouse for too long. Worst case scenario, your kit is a fraud! Yes, there have been reports that shops have produced their copies of commercial products in a ‘kitchen’ behind closed doors. Try getting a refund. If they refuse, shop somewhere else.
Buy your kit from a different shop and double check the colour of everything included. If all is the same as usual, throw the dodgy kit in the bin. If the colour is different again, then the company may have changed their ingredients for whatever reason. Great, now you have two kits. One for now, and one for next time.
Use a relaxer or hair dye within two weeks of each other
Remember: too many chemicals at once leads to hair loss. Don’t take the risk. Your fantastic new hair colour can wait.
DO or DON’T?
Change between lye and no-lye
There have been reports that switching between them causes hair loss or damage, but I have seen many people online who did change over and still have great hair. The decision is yours. Just remember not to overlap on the previously relaxed hair.
No-lye is reportedly easier on the scalp, but people- including myself- experience a lot of dryness as a result. It has also been said that no-lye did not straighten as well as lye. Weigh up the pros and cons of both, and then choose the best option for you.
Those are the main DOs and DON’Ts for chemically processing your hair. If you’ve been doing the DON’Ts then stop before you damage your hair and hurt yourself. Taking unnecessary risks isn’t worth it.