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What Your Hairdresser Never Told You About Your Relaxer

Updated on August 5, 2012


I'll start by saying that I mean no harm to hairdressers, beauticians, stylists, or the entire hair care industry. This article is meant to help. Personal experience with relaxers gives me the knowledge to help others avoid the harm that was done to me. That being said, let me get straight to the point:

What your hairdresser Never Told you about Your Relaxer:

  • Relaxers come in different strengths, and the type used on you is based on the thickness, texture, and health of your hair. Someone with fine/wavy, overprocessed hair will require a different strength of relaxer than someone with coarse, thick, tightly coiled, healthy hair. Not one hairdresser has ever talked to me about THEIR relaxer selection for MY hair. I've seen the relaxer salesperson come and go. Wheeling and Dealing.
  • Relaxers are particularly effective on longer hair lengths, because the weight of the hair helps to maintain the straight look. Law of gravity, folks. Have you ever noticed short length relaxed hair (neck length), appears to have difficulty growing past a certain length. It suffers damage specifically at the ends, which seem to rub against cloth and break, it doesn't lay down as well as longer length hair--and most likely keeps getting flat ironed daily in an effort to lay it down properly. It's lightweight due to a "catch 22" situation: It won't lay down because it isn't weighted enough (lengthwise and thickness)--and it may be getting over processed (relaxed too often) or exposed to too much an effort to lay down. Heat and chemical processes will ensure that the hair stays thinned out and short length.
  • Chemical relaxing involves chemicals being put onto the hair in order to change the structure of the hair and to permanently straighten it. The relaxer's effects (broken bonds, hair structure change) remain on the processed hair. Only newly grown hair will present without the chemical effects. I've heard people say that the relaxer can be washed out :(
  • Before you get a relaxer, there are certain things you should do at home in order to prepare for your appointment. Of course, they told you "don't scratch your scalp". That's pretty important. But there's more. Hair should be washed (avoid scrubbing the scalp) before relaxing because this causes the scales on the cuticles to rise gently, allowing the relaxer to enter the hair shaft quicker. You ever go to get a relaxer, and for some reason the chemical needs to stay on longer because it's "not taking"? There are lots of things that will cause that. If you have buildup on the hair shaft, this will cause the relaxer to take time to "work". As a matter of fact, texlaxing (relaxing the hair quickly so as not to achieve bone straight tresses--lets you keep some of the natural texture) is effectively done with the use of conditioners mixed with the relaxer. This technique allows the relaxer to "lightly straighten" the hair. It seems to me that this method serves as a "blocker" to the relaxer, which is something you may or may not want to happen. But it's important that you know what causes a relaxer to "work" or not.
  • Don't relax if your hair is very dry or damaged. Has anyone looking to get a relaxer ever been turned away from a hairdresser due to "dry" or "damaged" hair? This means that the "dry" and "damaged" cycle will continue.
  • Don't relax your hair if it is bleached or highlighted recently. It might be too fragile and it very well may break off.
  • Don't relax your hair if you have broken, irritated skin.
  • Use specific shampoos and conditioners formulated for chemically treated hair. OR if you know of homemade ingredients that can be gentle on your hair while cleansing/conditioning, then that's even better. It's so important to maintain the correct moisture and protein balance after chemical treatment.
  • Avoid using too much heat on fragile chemically processed hair. Best thing for your hair would be to air dry after it's been washed and conditioned. How many of us are guilty of wanting that "dead straight" relaxed look, and blow dry/flat ironing after each wash session (probably 1x week). That's torture on the hair.
  • Don't relax your hair more than once every 6 months. You won't ever hear that from your hairdresser. Why would you? Once every 2 months means 3x more money at the salon. Hey, it's just business. Nothing personal. No. They won't tell you how to go without a relaxer for that long. Matter of fact, they WILL tell you that your hair will break off if you don't get a relaxer. That sounds like a lifelong commitment to me! Listen. Expect your relaxer to last up to six months.
  • Don't use metal combs or hair clips or bobby pins on newly relaxed hair. Damage, damage, and more damage


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      Kaley 2 years ago

      You SHOULD NOT wash your hair before a relaxer!! According to my hair dresser plus my own experience. If you wash your hair- you are gonna be cleaning your scalp.. And thus more likely to BURN you scalp in the relaxing process cause there isn't the barrier of oils and "dirt" to protect your scalp (May even burn your roots onto your scalp.. Matting your hair on to your scalp) my hair dresser prefers if I haven't washed my hair atleast 3 days before my appointment