To Relax or not to Relax...That is the question.


I know the old age question for everyone is should I relax my hair or should I just leave my hair in its natural virgin state. A lot of people are concerned that Relaxers are damaging to the hair and that they will eventually take your hair out. The main key to chemical relaxers is MAINTENANCE! Some people that I know go as long as six full months without getting a relaxer retouch because they feel that it's too much for the hair. If you've ever wondered why your hair is not growing the way that you want to and the length that you desire or that you have large amounts of breakage between relaxers is because the "new growth" that you get each and every month is dry, and it's overly curly and once you start to comb and brush the hair, the hair on the ends which are still chemically relaxed, are fragile at this point, and is very susceptible to breakage and split ends. Waiting long periods of time between your relaxers is not something that you should do if you are going to chemically relax your hair. A lot of people seem to think that when their hair is in a natural state (virgin state) it is healthier and thicker and when the hair is relaxed it's damaged and thinner. Hair that is overly curly (or as some of us say nappy or kinky) is going to appear fuller but the chemical itself doesn't thin the hair out. It removes the curls and gives it a straighter appearance. I personally have had a chemical relaxer in my hair since I was a child and I have had very healthy hair and I haven't had any problems or issues with a chemical relaxer. If you are having or experiencing issues with a chemical relaxer such as, breakage, thinning, or scalp irritation; one or two things is occurring: (1) You are waiting entirely too long for a retouch application and/or (2) The relaxer system that you are using is too strong for your texture of hair.

Relaxers that are used in the Salons are a lot stronger than the relaxers that you can purchase at a beauty supply store that comes in a box. I have a normal to medium hair texture meaning it's not thin and it's not thick. For years I was still using the "kiddy relaxers" because of the texture of my hair. It straightened it just as good as any other relaxer and it lasted just as long. Salon relaxers and some store bought relaxers in the box come in a regular strength, mild strength, and super strength. These strengths are given for the different textures of hair. Some people get a little confused and think that regular is for thin hair and so forth and so on. Mild strength is for chemically treated hair, (hair that has been lightened or tinted) and is naturally fine. Regular is for normal to medium hair and super is for coarse resistant hair.

One thing that I have suggested to people who wish to maintain a straight look but wish to not use an actual relaxer (hydroxide relaxers) is to use a Thio relaxer (Ammonium Thioglycolate) it's a relaxer that is used for perms and curl reformation. It will straighten your hair and is not as harsh and will allow you to keep the natural look in between retouch applications. Do not switch you retouch application with a thio relaxer until you seek advice from your regular hair stylist. Flip Flopping between products and chemicals like that will cause a hair meltdown! That is a personal choice for you to decide along with your stylist.

Two more things that I must touch on is shampooing and Conditioning. After you apply the relaxer to your hair you must use a neutralizing shampoo. I've been told that is okay to use one neutralizing shampoo application and follow it up with another type of shampoo, preferably a conditioning shampoo. My suggestion to you if you are doing this at home...you may want to do the full three neutralizing shampoo's unless you rinse all of the relaxer out the first time before you shampoo the hair. I prefer doing three to be the safe side. Even if I'm doing a client. Neutralizing shampoo is NOT to be used as a regular shampoo! I believe Motions has/had a neutralizing shampoo where it suggested that you could use it as a regular shampoo, I'm not all together sure why but neutralizing shampoo will strip you hair dry and make it loose it's natural luster and elasticity. Please use neutralizing shampoo with relaxer applications, not as a regular shampoo. Along with maintenance, condition your hair with a deep conditioner (conditioner, cap, and heat) often. We don't want dry and brittle hair. Not a good look!

Miss Nic's Do's and Don'ts for a Chemical Relaxer

DO'S
1. DO Re-touch the hair every 4 to 6 weeks 8 weeks is the max. (Depending on the texture of your hair: Thin, Medium, or Course). You should at least rela
x new growth that is 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length.
2. DO Condition, Condition, CONDITION
3. DO trim you ends after you relax you
r hair. Free it from those terrible split ends

DONT'S
1. DO NOT Comb relaxer thru to the ends of the hair on each application. Unless you have developed a line of demarcation (Visible line of new growth against relaxed hair. Do not comb past that line! Relaxer is only combed to the ends on a Virgin Application.
2. DO NOT leave the relaxer on for no more than 15 to 20 minutes depending on the texture of your hair and how long it actually took for the application process.
3. DO NOT use neutralizing shampoo between relaxer retouches
4. DO NOT apply a permanent hair color after a relaxer. Wait at least two to three weeks before or after the relaxer application.
5. DO NOT use the incorrect strength for your hair type.
6. DO NOT get your hair Bone straight. Very fragile!
7. DO NOT agitate or irritate the scalp before application. If there is any visible cuts or abrasions do not apply the relaxer. If the scalp has been scratched, apply a basing cream.

This is a link that I found that has very good information that I did not touch on due to time. http://www.hairboutique.com/tips/tip000314.htm