For over twenty years that I’ve lived on this earth, I’m proud to say I’ve only had relaxed hair for only four years and this was barely my fault. You see, before I was allowed to join high school, the administration gave me a list of rules I had to follow, agree to them and return the documents signed, which I did accordingly. The rules were straight forward and simple, but there was one rule that stood out, and it involved my hair.
“YOUR HAIR MUST BE NATURAL AND IN A PONYTAIL.”
This was a few years back when the only thing I knew about natural hair was cornrows and braids. I didn’t have options as a growing young girl and so letting down my flat ironed hair was seldom and only during occasions. My first day of school, I had a Brazilian blowout and few weeks later I realized that the only people who had straight back natural hair, was us, the new girls. I didn’t know how to take care of this kind of style, every day I struggled to keep it straight and so the following term, sadly, I relaxed my hair. I had relaxed hair all through high school for the convenience.
Sometimes I look back on my high school years and reflect on what I could’ve done instead because if I knew then what I know now, maybe I would’ve held a protest with my friends like the South African girls from Pretoria High School.
Immediately I finished high school I got a buzz cut mainly because it was daunting to maintain relaxed hair at the time. Today however, we have all this information and products. Growing relaxed hair is easier now more than ever. If you have natural hair and you’re thinking of relaxing it, here are a few things you should know that most people usually won’t tell you, including your hairdresser.
Relaxed Hair is more Damaged than Natural Hair
…and you can blame all the relaxer TV ads that show up every other day. These ads try to convince women that natural hair is damaged and that getting a relaxer is the only way to ‘save’ it. Lies! Well, except maybe for the part about natural hair. Truth is, the cuticles in natural hair are already damaged that’s why we have kinks and curls and when you relax it, you compromise your hair to more damage. Relaxed hair is just controlled damage.
Since relaxed hair is damaged and weak, relaxer companies will lie to you that it’s more manageable, it’s not. Taking care of hair whether natural or relaxed requires a right kind of regimen and when you define relaxed hair as manageable it makes no sense since there’s no clear definition of manageability when it comes to black hair. Healthy, moisturized hair on the other hand is ‘manageable.’
Natural Hair Products Work on Relaxed Hair
For a long time, companies tried to pass off their hair products as only deserving if you had relaxed hair. Most of these products were expensive and at a time when majority of women had relaxed hair we can see why they would do this.
You wouldn’t find these products in your shelves today. That’s because Natural hair products work on relaxed hair too. Both textures need moisture and oils for growth, not necessarily natural and organic but the kind of product that won’t dry out your mane. Isn’t it amazing how products have changed?
Don’t touch up your roots and color on the same day
There’s a science behind coloring your hair. When you get your hair permanently colored, bleach is first used to raise the hair cuticles and lighten it. This helps the color to penetrate the hair shaft making the color last longer: a reason why you’re required to get a deep conditioning treatment weekly.
Now imagine relaxing your hair before or even after getting it colored, you’ll be leaving that salon with a handful of hair on your scalp. Color your hair after few weeks.
You don’t have to touch up your roots after new growth every time
Growing up I would go to the salon with my mum and I would watch her get her hair done. As I got older it occurred to me that every time she had new growth, she retouched it. Her hairdresser also did something we now consider dangerous; she would apply the relaxer from her roots to ends. Needless to say, my mum’s edges soon left for Canaan after all that damage.
My mum now rocks shoulder length dreadlocks and her edges are gradually returning. Your hairdresser won’t tell you this but, you don’t have to touch up your roots after new growth every time. You can stretch out your relaxed hair using protective styles for a few months before your next appointment. Save your edges.
Texture Manageability Kits are Relaxers too.
These kits gained popularity within the natural hair community very fast. These kits promise to stretch out your curls and loosen them unlike relaxers that straighten.
But guess what? These texture manageability kits are relaxers too because they permanently alter your hair texture, I mean you’re going from type 4 to type 3 hair texture. Other forms of relaxers include the S-curl, texturizers and the kiddy perm. Don’t let these companies fool you. Honestly am glad we’re over this madness.
Relaxed Hair needs frequent Protein Treatments
This is what makes relaxed hair different from natural hair besides the sleek straight look. Like I said before, relaxed hair is damaged and will need extra love and care. Protein treatments should be done every two weeks if your hair is dry, brittle and has no life but every four weeks to give it strength.
One last thing, getting your hair relaxed doesn’t mean your scalp will burn every time. You have to insist to your hairdresser that although relaxers straighten hair, it doesn’t have to sit there until it burns. That’s over processing your hair and it’s not healthy and safe at all.
If you have relaxed hair, am sure you’ve seen women with waist length natural hair, not to worry because you can grow long healthy relaxed hair too with the right care.