Relaxing hair requires the utmost care and attention. This is not a process that should be undertaken when either you or your stylist is in a hurry. On the day you choose to relax your hair or retouch (if your hair has been relaxed previously) ensure that you have set out enough time in your day for this activity.
Most relaxers are chemical based creams designed to straighten and lengthen hair. That being said, the wrong use of these products could damage your hair and scalp. Also bear in mind that damage to your scalp may arise if for instance you have recently just taken out braids or just washed your hair. This is so because your scalp will be slightly more sensitive and possibly abraded from the braids or washing. As a result it is advisable that you let your scalp rest for a couple of days before heading to the salon.
Ensure that the following are adhered to when you relax your hair:
1. The stylist must base your scalp before applying the relaxer. This process entails using a product, often petroleum jelly*-like based substance that will act as a barrier between your scalp and the relaxer. This step is absolutely essential and must never be skipped as it greatly reduces the incidence of relaxer damage to the scalp.
2. A competent stylist should use a corresponding relaxer strength to match the texture of your hair. For example, it is not acceptable to use a high strength relaxer on fine hair. The stylist should also use the appropriate amount of relaxer for your hair to ensure optimum results.
3. Before the stylist commences applying the relaxer, he should have all his tools on hand, i.e. all combs and smoothing utensils should be laid out, the relaxer should be close at hand, he should have a watch or timer within view and if he needs an assistant then the assistant should be right beside him/her as well. The last thing you want is a stylist flailing about as he applies the relaxer to your hair.
Relaxing hair requires precision and perfect timing so please do not tolerate a disorganised stylist as this could end in grief and not to mention some pain for you and your hair.
4. The stylist must be careful to apply the relaxer to the new growth only. However, if your hair is virgin and it is your first time of relaxing it then it is appropriate for the relaxer to be applied from root to tip. You should note however, that invariably, during a retouch some of the relaxer will touch aspects of your hair that is already relaxed but it doesn’t matter as long as the stylist’s primary target is the new growth.
5. Your stylist must never exceed the duration allotted for the relaxer to remain in your hair. The time commences once he applies the relaxer to the first section of your hair. Each relaxer manufacture has a specific time that should obeyed.
6. When it is time to rinse your hair, it must be done thoroughly especially the nape of your neck which could easily be over looked. Some stylists prefer to condition the hair after rinsing with water before shampooing because the cuticles of the hair are open and will absorb the product better. This may be a useful step to consider, however, regardless of the method your stylist adopts, he/she must wash your hair out with a neutralising shampoo until all traces of the relaxer have been removed from your hair.
These steps are general guidelines that wil help to mitigate any damage to your hair and ensure that the length of your hair is preserved during the relaxing process. Once you’ve reached step 6, your stylist may proceed to style your hair as you desire using suitable products.