When it comes to Black hair, it’s often an individual’s choice whether to leave their hair natural, turn their hair into locs or relax it. Relaxing hair means permanently straightening the hair using chemicals. Some people do this for aesthetics or easier maintenance. However, it’s important to know your hair type before opting for relaxing. Relaxed works through controlled damage to keep hair straight. To reduce any damage, avoid making these mistakes when relaxing your hair.
1. Not learning your hair
You need to know the curl pattern of your hair. Very tightly curled and coiled hair is 4C hair while the least curly hair is 2A. The curlier your hair is, the stronger the relaxer you should use. You also need to identify if your hair is high or low porosity.
The porosity of your hair is the ability of your hair to absorb and hold moisture. High porosity hair absorbs and releases great amounts of moisture. Low porosity is hair that struggles to absorb moisture but retains it. Hair that is in between doesn’t have any trouble absorbing and doesn’t release moisture quickly. To determine your porosity, feel your hair when it’s wet but not dripping. If it’s rough like straw, it has low porosity. If it’s just wet then it has regular porosity. When it feels sticky, it has high porosity.
Determining the curl pattern and porosity of your hair helps you choose the best products. The curlier the hair the stronger the relaxer, to ensure the hair is properly straightened. High porosity hair needs less heat and protein-based conditioner and treatment. Low-porosity hair can withstand higher heat and lightweight oils. Avoid protein and silicon products.
2. Cleaning or detangling your hair before relaxing
For the chemicals to work effectively, you need to leave your hair tangled and greasy before relaxing it. If you’ve just undone your braids, you can comb through with a wide-tooth comb but don’t try to straighten the root growth. Remove knots with your fingers. Cleaning your scalp within a week of relaxing your hair will lead to more burning and irritation of the skin.
It’s recommended that you relax your hair as little as often. Not only can it damage your hair and scalp if you use it too often. Studies show that it can increase the risk of developing cancer. Try to relax your hair when you have at least two inches of growth or more. If you relax your hair after every three months, stick to that schedule.
You should also use deep treatments at least every two weeks if your hair isn’t in a protective style. When you undo your protective style, ensure you use a treatment suited to your hair. If you get hairstyles that last two months, treat your hair every two months.
Hair should be trimmed regularly to avoid the development of split ends. These dry out your hair and lead to more breakage. If they travel up the core of the hair, it leads to more breakage. Deep conditioning reduces the development of split ends.
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4. Using too many products
Using too many products at a go doesn’t give your hair enough time to respond to each. This can also make your hair greasy, subject to breaking or weaker. It also makes it difficult to know which products work best for your hair. When trying a new product, give it at least a week to observe the effects before removing it from your routine or adding another.
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5. Making your routine too complicated
Having too many products, and too many processes in your hair routine can increase the amount of stress on your hair. Relaxed hair doesn’t need to be washed daily. Twice a month is enough. You also don’t need to add too many products for growth, sheen or styling. A simple comb-through and styling every morning is enough. At night, before bed, you can comb it and tie it then sleep with a silk or satin headdress or using pillowcases of the same materials to reduce breakage.
6. Using heavy permanent dyes
When you have relaxed hair, avoid using permanent dyes. If you need to dye your hair, use powder dyes or temporary ones. Heavy permanent dyes increase damage. Also, only use dyes one or two shades darker than your hair because they increase pigment and volume.
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You can style your hair yourself but when you’re not a hair care expert, you can easily damage your hair and scalp. A professional can determine whether to use a lye or no-lye relaxer. A lye relaxer contains sodium hydroxide, which can be irritating to the scalp. Lye relaxers also need mixing with activators. The hair will be straighter and silkier, but when you don’t know the science behind hair care, you can use the wrong relaxer and fry your hair. No-lye relaxers use calcium hydroxide and they’re milder. They’re better for less curly hair. However, they can dry out your hair more.
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