This is a checklist for persons who are newly relaxed and for persons who have been relaxing for years. Some people who have been relaxing their hair for years experience hair shedding every time after they relax. Other persons, experience outright damage and breakage. There are a few things that you can do before you chemically process your hair that can mitigate damage to your precious strands.
1. Do A Hair Porosity Test
Hair porosity is the ability for your hair to absorb moisture. When hair is too porous, the cuticle of the hair is not completely together, under microscope it looks like a furry- legged insect with little fibers sticking up all along the hair shaft. This can be caused from over-processing of hair from relaxers, perms or coloring. The problem with porous hair is that it absorbs moisture too quickly. Which is not good as it can suck up color and chemicals much faster and eventually damage your hair. Hence, you want your hair to not be porous; the scales on your shaft should be tightly wrapped about your hair cuticle. This is hair that is difficult to color or relax because it doesn’t absorb what you are putting on the strands readily.
To test for porosity you will need a few strands of your hair, which can be taken from your comb and a bowl of water. Healthy hair will float on the water, which means that it does not absorb the water that it is placed in. On the other hand, very porous hair with an open cuticle will soak up water and sink.
Solution: Deep condition your hair with a conditioner that has both moisture and protein. Wait for a week and then do the test again. Do not relax your hair while it is porous.
2. Avoid Agitating Your Scalp
This is a common sense suggestion because we all know that agitating the scalp too soon before a relaxer is a big no-no. This means no scratching or rubbing or hitting your head too hard. If your hair is itching put a little coconut oil mixed with peppermint at the spot.
Wash your hair at least four days before getting a relaxer as this will ensure that your scalp has produced enough of your hairs natural lubricant (sebum) to help to protect it during the chemical application process. You can add some jojoba oil or castor oil to your scalp if you are relaxing your hair three or two days after a wash to protect your scalp. This you can do at home before you head to the salon. If you wait too long to relax your hair after a wash you will find that your hair will itch more because it will attract dirt and dust.
3. Avoid Sweat
It is recommended that a week before you relax your hair you avoid rigorous physical exercise that will allow sweat to sit on your scalp. Sweat is the bodies way to detoxify itself, it contains salt and waste, this is dehydrating to the scalp and can cause the hair to itch like crazy. This can cause scalp irritation if you give in to the sweet urge to scratch and cause scalp burns. Scalp burns should never be considered normal every time you visit the hairdresser.
4. Avoid Curly Hairstyles A Week Before
A week before you go to the hairdresser make sure that your hair is easy to comb out and it’s straight. Ensure that your two textures are easily seen by your hairdresser and that the hair is not tangled. Do not go to the hairdresser with broken hair and expect her to fix it in a single session while you are relaxing. Only healthy hair should be relaxed. Let your hairdresser ask you for tips on how to keep her hair healthy. Never go with damaged hair! Fix it first.
5. Wear Loose Styles
Styles like tight ponytails, braids or buns should all be avoided. Consciously slacken your hair accessories including pins and hair clips a week before you relax. Pay close attention to the things that you wear on your head and how it rubs on the edges of your hair. Do not wear tight hats or tie heads for up to a week before processing hair.
6. Avoid Alcohols and Gels
There are some styling products that contain alcohols that should be avoided before you relax your hair. I would say, avoid them altogether. However, a week before you relax your hair remember to not use any of these products. Neither should you use gels or other substances that can cause the hair to clump together. This makes it difficult to comb through your hair. Additionally, these products contribute to hair dryness.
Clarify your hair two weeks before you get a relaxer using an apple cider vinegar rinse. Do not relax your hair with it weighed down by products, for best results use castor oil or jojoba on your strands alone before you relax hair.