Do you have hair that is thick, coarse, and sometimes unruly? If so, you may want to relax it. Relaxers can be bought at almost any convenience store, and since this service can cost $70.00 or more in a professional salon, people are performing them at home. The relaxer was created in 1877 by a Garrett A. Morgan but was heightened by Madam C.J. Walker whose beauty empire made her the first female self-made millionaire.
The Perfect Candidate
Depending on where you’re from, you may call a relaxer a perm, but they are complete opposites. A perm is used to make the hair curly while a relaxer straightens. Relaxers come in different strengths that depend on the coarseness of your hair. Mild or medium would be for someone with a softer texture, a regular or super strength would be for those with thick and kinky hair. Most professionals shun the use of a super strength relaxer because it has a high amount of chemicals making the possibility of damaging the hair rise.
The most popular strength is regular simply because those with finer hair should be able to manage without one. Relaxers should be used when your hair is too tough to manage. Don’t associate a tough time with being lazy, if all you need is moisture and a consistent routine, it may be better to go without.
Who Shouldn’t Relax their Hair
Those with soft or fine hair are welcome to relax but could undergo more damage; those chemicals are strong. In fact, on an episode of the Tyra Banks Show, a special guest revealed that the relaxer formula can eat through an aluminum can! With that said, those who are already experiencing damage or hair loss should stay far away. Bleached strands should also remain relaxer-free.
Relax those Strands
Are you ready to relax your mane? If so, go out and grab a relaxer from a brand that you trust, it should include:
- Cream Relaxer
- Liquid Activator
- Neutralizing shampoo
- Plastic gloves
- Mixing stick
The items in your kit aren’t all you need for a successful application. While you’re out, pick up these extra essentials:
- Rat-tail comb
- Protective cape/towel
- Petroleum Jelly
- Hair clips
- Hair coloring brush
*Remember never to scratch the scalp 48 hours before a relaxer, the open wounds will cause intense burning during the application process.
So let’s get to it! Here is what you’ll need to do:
- Place the cape or towel around your body to protect your clothing. Covers with sleeves work best, so you have room to move your arms.
- Begin by parting the hair into four even sections, this will make the formula easier to apply. Do not detangle the hair unless it won’t part without it. If you have to comb through it, be sure not to scrape the scalp! Place the sections of hair in clips to move them out of your way.
- Next, take the petroleum jelly and smear it around your hairline and on the scalp. The jelly will ensure that your relaxer doesn’t burn your skin.
- Put on the gloves and pour the activator into your cream. Some brands have pre-mixed formulas so if you do, please ignore this step. Use the mixing stick to blend the formula until it is smooth.
- Remove the clip from one section of your hair, and place relaxer in it by using small sections. If this your first relaxer, you should apply the formula from root to tip but if you’ve gotten one before, only do the virgin hair. Overlapping your relaxer can lead to thinning and hair loss. A hair coloring brush will make the application much easier!
- Once all four sections are done smooth each of them with your hand.
- Take the back of a small toothed comb and begin to pass over your hair to promote a sleeker look (again, avoid rubbing the scalp).
- Let the formula sit for the time listed in your directions, and then rinse with hot water. If the scalp starts to burn or itch, spray a little oil sheen on the area of concern to soothe it. If your scalp burns to the point of no return, it is time to wash out your relaxer.
- Since you’ve just put a load of chemicals in the hair, the pH level will be off. Use the neutralizing shampoo to help balance your tresses making them feel soft and silky.
- Next, rinse the shampoo and apply a deep conditioner. For added penetration you can sit under a dryer or wear a shower cap to trap heat in.
- Rinse away the conditioner and you are welcome to style your hair as desired!
Read this Disclaimer!
After relaxing the hair know that your texture will be permanently altered, meaning that it will not revert. If you aren’t ready for a permanent change, opt for heat or a keratin treatment. The chemicals in a relaxer can burn the skin so if you are sensitive, ensure that you aren’t allergic to any ingredients before applying. You must follow the directions very carefully, failure to do so can result in hair loss.
It is recommended that your hair is relaxed once every three months or so, depending on your hair type. Performing this ritual more than that will damage your tresses. Be sure to keep the hair hydrated and your ends trimmed to maintain a healthy mane. Find a stylist you can trust in your area if you aren’t 100 percent confident in your knowledge of the process.
You could also learn to work with your natural hair texture. Due to a number of chemicals found in a relaxer, people are getting off what some call “creamy crack.” African American women who use relaxers are at a higher risk for developing fibroids (which has been tied to relaxer use in several studies) so you may want to weigh your options. There is nothing wrong with getting a relaxer; I am an advocate. Permanently straightening your hair can make life much easier, just proceed with caution!