The secret to having long relaxed hair is knowledge. It’s all about knowing how to care for your relaxed or permed hair for yourself and understanding your strands. Relaxed hair is processed with chemicals to make it straight or to smooth out the kinks in natural hair, once this is done a relaxed head will require a different level of care than natural hair, it cannot be business as usual for your new hair. The problem is, persons with relaxed hair have no idea what to do with their new hair and so they lose it…
I am used to going on the street and getting the question, is that your real hair? Everyday. The follow up question is usually- what do you do? I may attempt to answer the question but I realize that it would take a very long time to impart all that I know about hair care. I used to be a college lecturer and I had a system for my students, I went with the general concepts and then zeroed in on the specifics. I will be utilizing the same system here. The general secret to having long thick relaxed hair I will give in ten easy points:
- Low manipulation– Excess combing or brushing can weaken the hair shaft over time and cause shedding and breakage. The less time one spends combing their relaxed hair the better it will look.
- Infrequency of relaxing– I learned this the hard way, one Sunday my mother was washing my hair and a clump from the back of my hair dropped out in the bath. I cried for days because a whole chunk of my hair was gone. This was because I took the eight week relaxing time very seriously indeed and so the week after one of my frequent relaxers my hair had a tough time dealing with the pressure. Relaxers are chemicals, these chemicals alter the natural hairs curly pattern, if this chemical overlaps with a previously done part of the hair then you further break down the hair and this can cause serious breakage and hair loss. The prescribed option is to relax your hair just 3 times per year.
Switching relaxers– This is a serious hair offense and probably stems from our scientific ignorance. Make a vow to yourself never to put anything on or in your body that you do not have at least a basic knowledge about and you will be better off. In my case, I studied a little chemistry, I actually wanted to do it as a first degree but changed my mind; I am still highly fascinated with chemical reactors. Most relaxers have a hydroxide acid base.
If you have a bottle of liquid drain cleaner check the label. It contains hydroxide (sodium or calcium) which is very good for breaking down hair and other things; this is what is in most of your relaxers. If you overlap relaxers, the chemicals can break down hair faster than it should and cause serious hair loss. If you are switching relaxers make sure that the base chemical is the same.
- Conditioners– black hair needs conditioning. It is the best product that could ever happen for our hair, we need it like grass needs water after a drought. However, not all conditioners were created equal, some have ingredients to coat the hair shaft and others were designed to go deep into the hair shaft. Deep conditioners need heat to swell the hair shaft so that it can enter the hair and repair any nicks or scratches on the hair surface from within. On the other hand, regular conditioners coat the hair so that it is easy to handle and comb. They both serve a very important function in hair growth and retention and should never be overlooked. It is better for you to condition your hair than to shampoo it.
Moisture– Many persons are unaware of the power of moisture for hair retention. Moisture serves several roles, a very important one is to make your hair supple. Supple hair does not break as easily as dry or brittle hair. A good moisture balance is needed to retain hair growth. A very good source of moisture for both inside and outside our bodies is water. If you are not drinking enough water your hair will get dry and brittle.
Similarly, if you do not apply enough moisture to your hair it will get dry and break. Think about a piece of cloth left to dry in the sun with no fabric softener; the cloth will get hard, dry and rough. On the other hand fabric softener will not only make the cloth smell good, but it will make it soft and pleasant to touch as well. It is the same with our hair, the fabric softener is our figurative moisturizer. There are several moisturizers on the market we will explore them and tell you if they are good to be used. Important point to note: moisture is not oil!
Check out Part Two for more hair care secrets.