Relaxers are a blessing to women who prefer straight and permed hair. But when it is misused, that blessing could easily become a curse and lead to damaged overprocessed hair.
But before we tell you how long you should wait before you relax your hair, it’s important you understand how relaxers work.
Relaxers are chemical treatments that PERMANENTLY straighten the hair by altering the physical structure. Your hair has a protein bond around it (keratin) which keeps it strengthened and protected from wear and tear. Relaxers work by breaking down the keratin in order to penetrate the hair shaft and straighten it. And it’s permanent because any hair that has been relaxed can not revert to its original natural state and should NOT be relaxed again. So after your very first relaxer treatment, subsequent treatments should ONLY be applied to your new growth.
What happens when you continuously relax previously relaxed hair?
The term for it is over-processing. Think of it like cooking a bowl of vegetables over and over again, indefinitely. It’ll pretty much become useless in no time. With your hair, it’s the same thing. Relaxing already straightened hair is over-processing. And overprocessing results in damaged hair. It is actually the reason why most women experience breakage.
How long should you wait before you relax your hair?
Ideally, you should wait at least 10-12 weeks before you relax your hair. Hair grows about a quarter to half an inch monthly. Waiting for at least 10-12 weeks ensures that there is sufficient new growth to show a clear demarcation between the previously relaxed hair and the new growth. Anytime earlier than that would result in the relaxer over-lapping (touching previously relaxed hair). Because there simply isn’t enough new growth.
What to do while you wait
Several people are comfortable with stretching their relaxer treatments for up to several weeks which is great. But it’s important to care for the hair properly in-between touch-ups. And if you’re stretching your touch-ups beyond 10-12 weeks, you’ll need to deep condition often and do protective styling to minimize breakage.
Deep conditioning imparts moisture and strength deep into the hair follicles. And it’s necessary to alternate between moisture and protein conditioners to maintain the right balance for your hair.
The idea behind protective styling is to reduce manipulation. So braids, weaves and wigs especially are perfect to maintain your hair at this point.
You should also check out other tips to have healthy relaxed hair here.
(Featured image: laurenmechelle.com)