You are probably thinking 'of course i know how relaxed hair is different'. It is hair which has been chemically manipulated to get it straight and you are right but i'll go into a bit more detail about what actually happens to your hair when you relax it. This will help you understand how its different (also in terms of care).
When you apply relaxer your hair, the relaxer's high ph levels lead to the swelling of the hair cuticles to allows the relaxer penetrate and do its thing to break down the disulfide bonds. Disulfide bonds are the strongest bonds in your hair responsible for the kinks and curls. When the hair is then smoothed out, you get the straight look. While your hair cuticles are swelling, there can be cracks (damage) across the hair shaft as a result. In addition, the protein linkages (which keep the protein structure and moisture absorption in check) in the hair are also broken down in the process. This leads to relaxed hair being more sensitive than natural hair to protein and moisture.
From this explanation, i think it is now clear that you should have a different regimen if your hair is relaxed. For one, protein/moisture balance and being able to read your hair is even more important. In this blog post, I covered how to identify what your hair needs (in terms of protein and moisture) from the signs it shows you. I have included some tips below to help ensure you maintain a healthy head of hair.
I will split this section into 2: Before relaxing and during/after relaxing.
1. ALWAYS assess the state of your hair before you apply a relaxer. If your hair is seriously damaged or shedding, the last thing you need is to apply a relaxer. It will lead to more harm than good!
2. Make sure you always get a strand test (ask your hair stylist for one). You may be wondering why you need this especially if you have been using the same relaxer for years. Sometimes a manufacturer for example can change the formulation of a specific relaxer. You want to be sure that your relaxer is still suitable for your hair.
3. Please always have a professional relax your hair. Don't forget that relaxers are meant to be handled by professionals and in cases where they are wrongly used, they can lead to hair loss, scalp irritation or seriously damaged hair.
1. Make sure you coat your scalp (if your relaxer requires this- Please check the instructions) and your previously relaxed hair with an oil or a petroleum based product before you start relaxing. This helps prevent scalp irritations and reprocessing of already relaxed hair. Too much processing leads to weakness and damage of the hair.
2. Do not use combs to part your hair into sections to be relaxed or comb out the hair once the relaxer has been applied. The combs can cause irritation in the scalp which would be worsened by the relaxer. Fingers should be used to smooth out the relaxer and straighten the hair.
3. Never exceed the required processing time. As stated above, this would lead to damage. If you are using the right relaxer for your hair, the processing time specified would be sufficient.
4. Always make sure you are using a neutralising shampoo after you relax your hair. This is probably the most important step. When the shampoo is applied, it should also be left on the hair for about 3-5mins for it to really penetrate the hair to remove the relaxer residue. You also want to ensure that you are using one with a color indicator, that way you can tell when all the remaining relaxer is removed. If all the relaxer is not removed, it will continue processing the hair and this can lead to hair loss. If the relaxer residue is also not properly washed off, it will lead to extremely dry and weak hair. Ensure your hair stylist takes their time on this.
5. Always follow your neutralising shampoo with a deep conditioner and use heat for about 15 mins. Rinse off with cooler water to close off the cuticles.
6. Always have your next shampoo and conditioner no more than 7 days after your last relaxer. You should follow your shampoo with a protein treatment. This is a key step because as stated above, the protein linkages are impacted by relaxers therefore you need to ensure you are incorporating protein treatments to supplement the protein in your hair. Follow this with a moisturising deep conditioner with heat (preferable one thats protein free).
7. Afterwards, you stick to a regimen of cleansing, deep conditioning and moisturising your hair. You should make sure you alternate between a moisturising deep conditioner and a protein treatment to help keep that balance. Protein treatments should be used usually every 4-6 weeks however, it is always best to pay attention to your hair needs.
Aphogee 2 Step Protein Treatment
This protein treatment is recommended for severe breakage (more than 10-15 broken strands on non-wash days and more than 15-20 broken strands on wash day) or those in serious need of protein. Protein treatments leave your hair feeling stiff and should always be followed by the Aphogee balancing moisturiser
Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor
This protein treatment is recommended for medium levels of protein breakage (10-15 broken strands on non-wash days and 15-20 broken strands on wash day). Protein treatments leave your hair feeling stiff and should always be followed by the Aphogee balancing moisturiser
Aphogee Balancing Moisturizer
Should be used alongside the Aphogee 2 step protein treatment and the 2 min reconstructor
1. Keep some texture: Don't relax your hair to be bone straight. There is some research to show that when hair is relaxed to about 75-80% straightness, it has more strength (protein wise). It is able to retain moisture better and altogether is less prone to breakage. This can be achieved by reducing processing time, reducing your relaxer strength eg using regular instead of extra strength or adding oils (eg olive or almond) and conditioners to your relaxer to reduce its strength.
2. Stretch that relaxer: This reduces your hair's exposure to chemicals and potential overlapping of relaxers on previously relaxed hair. Where the relaxer overlaps will create a weak point more prone to breakage. The more often you relax, the more weak points you would have and therefore more breakage. You should not be retouching your new growth any earlier than 8 weeks from your last relaxer. The length of a stretch can be different for different people but 8-12 weeks is a good rule of thumb.
3. Clarify your hair every 4-6 weeks: if you use no-lye relaxers especially, they deposit minerals on your hair shaft which can lead to build up, dryness and breakage.
ORS Creamy Aloe Shampoo
This shampoo contains sulfates, citric acid and EDTA. It is perfect for getting rid of build up from no-lye relaxers and hard water build up. It is specifically formulated for product and mineral build up