The Relaxer Touch-Up Edition Part 1-
There is so much that I have to teach cosmetologists and students about taking care of chemically relaxed hair when I go to beauty schools. Cosmetologists are only really trained to cut, perm/relax and color hair. “We’re not in the business of helping people grow hair,” said one cosmetologist. Whether you are in school, a cosmetologist with years of experience, or just want some tips on growing healthier relaxed hair, I made this blog post just for you!
1. Tools of the trade are very important!
Here are some tools and products that I don’t see to many cosmetolgists use when relaxing:
- Additional oil to add to the relaxer.
- Conditioner to be applied to the previously relaxed hair. Relaxer Base (to protect scalp, hairline and ears).
- Plastic Clips (for sectioned hair).
- Neck wraps and plastic capes for client and for the shampoo bowl.
2. What the client and cosmetologist should do before and during the chemical relaxing process.
Protecting the previously relaxed hair- Most cosmetologists will not add oil to your relaxer, nor will they usually protect your previously relaxed hair with conditioner or oil.
If you are not relaxing your own hair, it will be your responsibility to base your own scalp the night before your relaxer and applying an oil or conditioner to your previously relaxed hair to prevent overlapping.
Do not part your hair with a sharp tipped edge (i.e., rattail comb) as this may irritate scalp and cause burning. Avoid caffeine before your relaxer process (may cause scalp irritation). I recommend not washing the hair at least 72 hours before a chemical process.
I always recommend adding 1 tablespoon of oil to the relaxer cream before applying to the hair (not necessary if you are using Linange Shea Butter Relaxer). This slows down the relaxing process but also helps condition the hair while it is straightening.
Many cosmetologists are trained to comb through the relaxer with a rat-tail comb all the way to the ends of the hair or pass the the new growth. I am strongly against this, as the chemicals in relaxers are strong enough to straighten hair with just using fingertips. A lot of people have fine or thin hair and may not even need that step I just mentioned.
Relaxer timing is very important. I have very resistant hair and it takes me about 23 minutes for my hair to be relaxed straight. Of course, if you are using a relaxer brand for the first time your cosmetologist should perform a strand test on a small section of your hair before applying the chemical to the full head of new growth. The hair should never be relaxed bone straight.
3. Neutralizing Conditioners, Rinsing, and Neutralizing Shampoos Rinsing once with Neutralizing Shampoo after processing the hair is not enough. I highly recommend using a neutralizing conditioner first before applying shampoo. The conditioner lowers the pH of the hair and keeps it soft before adding the harsh shampoo.
Most shampoos and conditioners have high pH. Chemical relaxers are very basic (pH of most relaxers is 10-14). This raises the pH, causing the hair shaft to swell and be very fragile. A neutralizing conditioner lowers the pH of hair, closing the cuticles so that the hair can be soft, supple, and ready to take on washing and styling.
If you don’t have a neutralizing conditioner, using a reconstructor is highly recommended before applying the neutralizing shampoo. This builds back the protein lost from straightening from using a relaxer. This process also closes the cuticle, creating softer, stronger hair.
After using the neutralizing shampoo, always deep condition with a conditioner that has a good balance of protein and moisture. I see a lot of cosmetologists skimp on this step or charge more for deep conditioning. I’m one of those people that want a deep conditioner with every shampoo and set and think that it should be included in the price, lol.
4. The Leave-in Conditioner One stylist tried to set my hair on rollers without even using a leave-in conditioner! This is an important step to not miss, especially since most people heat style their hair after having a chemical process. Make sure your stylist is using a moisturizing leave-in conditioner on your hair. Note to the clients: I highly recommend washing your own hair with neutralizing shampoo or neutralizing conditioner the day after a cosmetologist gives you a relaxer. This minimizes the chances of chemical damage.
A Note About Chemical Burns: a relaxer should not burn your scalp at all, or be on your scalp! If you are victim of a chemical burn after a relaxer process, be sure to not pick at the scab. Apply a local anti-biotic such as Neosporin to the scalp daily. Another recommendation is to apply petroleum jelly mixed with one drop of tea tree oil on the burn daily, or Camphor Phenique. Not taking care of the scalp after a relaxing process may cause permanent scarring and possible bald spots. Here’s my complete relaxing regimen:
Aceey’s Relaxing Day Regimen – Every Three Months
1. The night before, I base scalp with grease or oil.
2. Relaxing day: Section hair in four parts and cover ears, hairline, and nape with a petroleum base.
3. Coat previously relaxed hair with conditioner, being sure to not apply to the new growth. My favorite conditioner for this step is La Bomba Conditioner but any thick conditioner will do. (This step can also be done with your favorite oil: Coconut, Olive, Grapeseed)
4. Apply Linange Shea Butter Relaxer to the new growth only, smoothing each section with fingertips. I do not comb through the relaxer through the new growth.
Linange is my favorite brand of relaxer and I highly recommend it, especially for people that have resistant hair. If I don’t have this brand, I use Vitale Super or Revlon Realistic Super and mix 1 tablespoon of oil in the relaxer before applying to hair. This weakens the relaxer so that my hair gets straight but is left with volume (I hate flat hair). My hair does not like any lye relaxers.
5. After hair is processed, I rinse thoroughly and apply Linage Neutralizing Conditioner to my hair, carefully following the directions that are listed on the bottle. Notice that I didn’t say “shampoo?” 😉 This Conditioner acts like a shampoo in that it lathers slightly but really keeps the pH of my hair down so that my hair cuticles can lay down flat. The conditioning properties of this product are amazing.
If I do not have the Linage Neutralizing Conditioner, I apply a reconstructing conditioner to my hair and let sit for 5 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
6. Apply Neutralizing Shampoo with a color alarm and keep washing and rinsing until the suds are white.
Favorite Neutralizing Shampoos:
- Elasta QP Stop Action Shampoo
- Isoplus Neutralzing Shampoo
7. Apply Deep Conditioner that contains protein. Let sit for 10 minutes then rinse.
Favorite deep conditioners:
- Silk Dreams Vanilla Silk Dream Moisture Cream Conditioner
- Silk Dreams Shea What?
- Aphogee 2 Minute Keratin Conditioner
- Conditioners from the Dominican Republic:
8. Apply Leave-in Conditioner and style:
- Silk Dreams Wheat Germ Butter Conditioner
- Silk Dreams Silky Soft Leave-in Cream
- Salerm 21
- Lacio Lacio
Usually, the next day, I wash my hair again with neutralizing shampoo and neutralizing conditioner just to be sure I got all the relaxer out, followed by a deep conditioner.
In the future I will be posting about coloring hair, my secret weapons for hair maintenance, and other tips that are are not taught in Cosmetology School. None of these tips are secrets so please share this information freely. I am on a quest to make sure everyone has healthy hair! Be blessed! 😀
PS: Still new at this blog thing, please excuse any mistakes, lol.