For most black females like myself, you don’t get your first relaxer until after turning 12-years-old. Why? Your mother understands that this type of hair straightening system requires special care and often damages healthy locks. So, you must be mature enough to maintain a relaxer. As someone who sported natural braids throughout most of her childhood and teens, I found out this truth the hard way. Putting a relaxer in my hair initially singed the ends and broke off pieces causing me to adopt the following black hair care tips to keep my relaxed hair soft and strong.
1. Invest in a daily cream moisturizer.
Relaxers are drying. The chemicals in them strip hair of natural oils. As a result, black females who relax their hair must add moisture back into their locks on a daily basis. The best route is to use a leave-in conditioner, the kind that doesn’t require rinsing out. See: Best Leave-in Conditioners for Natural and Relaxed Hair
2. Use the same chemical relaxer for treatments.
A stylist alerted me to this black hair care tip for relaxed hair. Since some of the chemicals in various straightening systems differ, switching between them can break off your hair. As a result, whether hair is relaxed at a beauty shop by a technician or at home with an over-the-counter kit, it’s important to use the same brand and strength (mild, regular, super) for the job. This way, your hair does not negatively react to a new chemical.
3. Protect your scalp and always neutralize hair.
What is the quickest way to damage black hair with a relaxer? Do not apply petroleum oil (Vaseline) to the scalp prior to a relaxing treatment and omit the neutralizer. Oiling the scalp protects this skin from burns and eventual baldness. Neutralizing the hair stops the relaxing process and brings back normal pH levels preventing breakage and thinning. Most of my black female friends (and myself) have a hair horror story involving these two mishaps. The aftermath normally involves unwanted hair cuts and conditioning sessions. See: Neutralizing Shampoo
4. Avoid extreme heat during styling.
Another black hair care tip for relaxed hair is to avoid extreme heat during the styling process. The use of blow dryers and flat irons add additional stress to chemically relaxed hair. In order to preserve the health of my hair, I use less heat for both processes. Blow drying and flat ironing my hair takes a bit longer, but the outcome is the same.
5. Use a satin head wrap for sleep.
Before going to bed, wrap your hair with a silk scarf. This keeps strays in place and also lessens the loss of precious oils. If you can’t tolerate wearing a silk scarf throughout the night, opt to lay on a silk pillow case. See: Evolve Black Go Stain Wrap Cap
In conclusion, the above black hair care tips for relaxed hair aided me in maintaining straightened hair. Employ them and flaunt beautiful, well-conditioned relaxed hair.
For more on black hair care tips, read Black Hair Care Tips for Thinning Hair and Black Hair Care Tips for Braid Styles.