Now I have some tips for maintaining gorgeous chemically processed hair. I only mention relaxers/relaxing below, but everything applies to texturisers and texlaxers too.
1. Comb instead of brushing
I know we can all picture that girl in the movies who brushes her silky, long hair a hundred times before going to bed. In real life, she would not have much hair left. Stick to combing, preferably with your fingers. The bristles on the brush are detrimental to having healthy short or long hair.
2. Leave your hair alone
I know how great it feels when you show off your fresh relaxer, but try not to play in your hair constantly. Putting the hair under constant pressure will lead to breakage if not now, later. This risk increases as the new growth comes in. Natural kinky/coily/afro-textured hair is the weakest hair type because it has so many bends in the shaft- I discuss this in the Natural Hair Myths section. Choose a low maintenance hairstyle and stick to it for as long as possible.
3. Relax new growth
This sounds obvious, but read on. Many people relax hair that has already been relaxed and/or relax every time they see a centimetre of new growth. This leads to breakage, and people who do this usually have wispy, receding, strands of hair you could count on one hand. On forums I belong to, women with long or short, visibly healthy hair are the ones who leave their hair alone AND relax when they have at least an inch, so there are little or no overlaps with previously relaxed hair.
To measure your hair, just stretch it out and hold a ruler next to it. Do not pull so hard that your scalp is pulled up, or the measurement will not be accurate, and it’ll hurt. On average, every race gets approximately half an inch of growth per month. Remember that this is an AVERAGE- you may get less or more.
4. Cut down/out heat
Heat can destroy your hair. Combining this with chemicals eats away at your hair even more. If you want to straighten your hair with a hair straightener, I would do that instead relaxing, but avoid doing both. If you want to straighten your hair, wrap it around your head like a towel OR do a rollerset. These are not as fast as using heat, but they will not damage your hair.
Rollersets involve you leaving curlers in your hair. Wet hair is the easy to straighten via this method because wet hair is weaker than when dry. However, be careful while handling the hair when it’s in such a weak state. Do not leave the wrap or curlers too tight because this will lead to hair breakage, and eventually a receding hair line.
I talk about this more in the Chemically Processed Hair Myths section here, so I will just mention this briefly. DO NOT use ‘kiddie relaxers’. People say they can be stronger or the same as adult relaxers. Find a relaxer that works for you, and use the same on any child whose hair you relax. If in doubt, don’t relax the child’s hair. Wait until she/he is older and let them choose for themselves.
IMPORTANT: Only relax a child’s hair with both parents’ permission. You might think you’re doing them a favour, but it is NOT your decision to make. Would you like it if I shaved your daughter’s hair without asking? Exactly, so don’t make important decisions for someone else.