More than two years ago I wanted to self-relax, I got annoyed at the exorbitant amount I had to pay my stylist and at the same time a friend of mine who frequently relaxed her own hair (it looks gorgeous by the way) called and asked me if I wanted some of her Affirm relaxer because she had too much left over and she feared that it would spoil because she was going on a long stretch.
I realize that I couldn’t handle relaxing on my own unlike some of my girlfriends, who are quite happy to not allow a stylist anywhere near their precious tresses. My cousin said that relaxing hair with a hairstylist is like a relationship once you get burned you never want to go back. If that is your story and you are determined to do your own hair. Here are the steps:
Tip: If you are a first timer, try ‘relaxing’ your hair with a deep conditioner and see how well it turns out. Do the same process as you would a relaxer as a test run. Remember that chemical relaxers have serious chemicals that can burn your skin and should be handled with care.
Before A Self Relaxing Session
- Make sure that your hair is ready for a relaxer. Check the 7 Things To Do Before You Relax Your Hair, to ensure that your hair is ready.
- You will need to have on hand: rubber gloves to protect your hands, towels, combs, application brush (invest in one), robe to protect your clothes, clock and mirror.
- It would be good if you had a mirror before and behind you so that you can clearly see your hair in both places.
- Set aside time to relax hair, most self relaxing sessions can take up to four hours including washing and drying hair.
- Protect your hairline just as your hairstylist would. A good protectant is Vaseline.
- Wear your gloves, no matter how attractive it may seem to use your actual hands to smooth out your hair, always wear gloves.
- Invest in an applicator brush it is much easier to manage especially if you are not experienced. If you are using a comb, use the back of a comb. You can use a toothbrush as an option and then smooth down with the back of the comb. Experiment with the toothbrush before you attempt it with the real chemical.
- Never, ever, forget to neutralize your hair after relaxing. So you will need a neutralizing shampoo. Do not, for the sake of your hair, skip this step, if you do not have a neutralizer on hand, do not relax hair until you do. A good practice is to use the same brand neutralizer as your relaxer.
- Choose a relaxer that is not too harsh for your hair i.e. contains conditioners and do not switch chemicals, check the labels of your relaxers, if you are used to using lye relaxers on your hair continue to do so, if you used no-lye continue . Follow manufacturers guidelines as it relates to the time the relaxer is to be used on head or try to recall the time that your stylist used. If texlaing, then you would have to cut the relaxing time. Make note of the time so that you can be consistent for future sessions.
During A Self Relaxing Session
The following are some tips to follow during the self- relaxing process:
- Part your hair in four, use the tail of a comb and do not dig into the scalp when parting, do it lightly. Hair is easier to work with when done in smaller parts. Base hair with your Vaseline in the exposed parts.
- Apply the relaxer by making parts of a quarter inch and onto your new growth only. Do this on each section before moving to another section. Use a clip to take the completed section out of the way.
- Work fast as you do not want the completed section to be over-processed. Some persons avoid this by relaxing their hair section by section by smoothing the relaxer on each section and then washing out the relaxer after it is processed; this gives them some level of control so that they can avoid mistakes.
- After applying the relaxer to the four sections, smooth the cream on each section of the hair where the relaxer was applied only, take care that you do not smooth the hair onto previously relaxed hair and avoid smoothing relaxer directly on your scalp.
- The hairline should be relaxed last as it is generally the thinnest part of the hair and the area that is most prone to breakage and burns.
- Rinse all the relaxer from each section of your hair thoroughly, starting with the first section that the relaxer was applied to and neutralize your hair properly. If in doubt as to the amount of neutralizer to use or what are the steps to use it, look at the manufacturers instruction or call a friendly hair stylist. Usually, some neutralizers change color when they restore the hair’s pH. If that is your indication wait for it to do so before washing it out.
After A Self Relaxing Session
- Deep Condition hair with a moisture rich conditioner and leave on hair for 30 minutes after you have finished washing your hair.
Source: Henderson-Brown Stephanie, Avadis Catherine, Advanced Hairdressing: A Coursebook for Level 3, Nelson Thomes Ltd, 2004