Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to Keep "Relaxed" Hair Healthy

Hey there Healthy Hair  Seekers! Some of you may  be thinking what is up with this? Why is she doing a blog post on "Healthy" chemically relaxed hair?  And some of you maybe  thinking is that even possible?! Well I'm here to tell you that yes, it is possible!  Although I am partial to natural hair and natural hair care, I am not naive to the fact that there are many women who want to continue  relaxing their hair, and will probably never wear their hair natural. I have readers who are relaxed that want answers for their hair care needs. I also have women who are relaxed asking if they should go natural, so I'd like to offer some answers for those readers. 

 If you've followed me you know that I haven't always been natural. As a matter of fact I've worn relaxed hair longer than I have natural hair.  Most of the tips that I will share I used when I was relaxed and my hair was as healthy as I could get it with the knowledge I that I had. 

My Relaxed Hair

Commonly asked questions below: 

Q. Do I have to wear my hair natural  in order to have healthy hair?  

A. Healthy hair, or the "appearance" of healthy hair is mostly manifested in how well you preserve your hair strands.  If you can keep your hair from breaking, shedding, and excessively splitting then your hair will have a healthy appearance.  Hair is its strongest in its natural state and less prone to breakage if you keep it moisturized. You don't have to wear your natural hair texture in order to possess healthy hair. However, in my experience, you have to be more careful with your hair and treat it with more care when chemicals are involved. 

Q.  How do I keep my relaxed hair from breaking?  

A. The short answers are:  Relax your hair less, use protein treatments, and deep condition.  If you currently relax your hair every 6 to 8 weeks, stretch it 10 to 12 and so on.   Stretching your relaxers will help prevent over lapping on previously relaxed hair. Keep your hair moisturized using a water based moisturizer, use even more on your natural roots.

Use less heat to style your hair.  Look for styles that do not involve a blow dryer, flat iron, or curling iron.  Relaxed hair is already weaker, by adding frequent heat you are asking for more shedding and breakage.  Use heat no more than once a week or once every two weeks. Go as long as you can without having to use heat to style your hair.  Rod sets, Rollers, Braid outs, etc.. I used all of these techniques when I was relaxed.   

Don't use a permanent hair color:  Many relaxed women severely damage their  hair by adding yet another chemical process. This can be a recipe for disaster.  Try using a natural color like "Body Art Quality" Pure Henna/Indigo.  You can also try semi permanents or rinses.  Shea Moisture, which is a natural hair care line, also offers a more natural alternative for coloring hair. (For healthier options on coloring hair check out my blog post on Coloring Natural hair here: these tips can be used on relaxed hair as well).

Stretching a relaxer

Q. My hair seems thinner, flat and limp?  How do I get it to look fuller? 

A. Chemical relaxers break down the bonds of your natural hair so it's going to flatten it and make it appear less full, and if you have finer hair that is going to be a double whamy for your hair!  Stretching your relaxers help to add density and fullness.  Also don't relax your hair "bone straight".  Meaning you can ask your stylist to leave some texture in your hair by adding the relaxer without smoothing and pressing it into your scalp. Also ask them leave it on for less time, or under process it.  This is similar to texturizing. If you desire  a bone straight or smooth look, allow your styling techniques to get you there.  You don't have smooth your hair stick straight with the chemical.

On wash days try skipping the blow dryer. Air drying your relaxed hair before styling will give you more fullness, or you can sit underneath a hooded hair dryer using low to medium heat.     (*Tip When I was relaxed I always air dried my hair by detangling it with a wide tooth comb and gently shaking my head from side to side. This would speed up the drying process and my hair dried smooth with no tangles.)    

Also note: As we grow older a we can start to experience thinner or less dense hair.  If you continue to relax as you grow older the hair can become increasingly thinner. Some even began to bald and experience more breakage with chemicals than when they were younger.  Hormone shifts can also come into play causing the hair to become thinner and weaker.  So ditching your relaxers may not be a bad idea in this scenario.     

Q. Should I Just Go natural? 

A.  I would never tell anyone to just "Go" Natural.  If you are curious about if you should try testing the waters.  First, try stretching your relaxers as long as you can and see how you deal with your natural roots between your relaxing sessions. This will  provide some good training and hands on experience before taking the plunge.  Don't say "I'm going natural" Just start stretching your relaxers or say "I'm relaxing less." This will give you a good idea of what managing your natural hair texture will be like. (Note: It is a little easier to manage when there is only one texture,, basically after the relaxed ends are gone) 

 Wearing your hair natural takes conviction and commitment to the process. There are many successful ways to transition to your natural hair, but  the first transition must be in your mind.  In order to wear your hair natural a person must have their own personal conviction.  That conviction will help you get through the tough times of not knowing how to style or maintain your natural hair.   

If your relaxed hair is constantly breaking and thinning no matter what you do, and especially if you have tried all of the above and its still breaking, 9 times out of 10 your hair type simply can not handle chemical relaxers and you should seriously consider growing off your relaxer and wearing it natural. Also women with scalp issues like Eczema, Seborrhea Dermatitis, and excessive dandruff tend to have less issues when they stop relaxing their hair.  Relaxing less should help also.      

*I am an advocate for Healthy Hair, and I am very partial to women wearing their hair in its natural state.  However, I cannot deny that if you are relaxed and want to maintain healthy relaxed hair that it can be accomplished. Women have done it and are doing it! You just have to be smart about it.  

Well until Next time!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Keeping Moisture in Your Hair

Freshly washed hair, no product...YET!

Most of us Kinky Curly Coily girls LOVE how our hair look and feel when it's been freshly washed and is still soaking wet with water. But what happens after it dries is just down right wrong,  IF you don't know how to lock in all of that moisture and keep the good feeling going!  Natural hair is very prone to dryness, and dry hair breaks! If  healthy hair and length retention is a goal for you, then you have to keep your hair moisturized. Make no mistakes  moisturized hair "FEELS" Moisturized. It took a lot of trial and error but I can truthfully say that I have learned how to KEEP my natural hair consistently moisturized and so can you!   Here are some tips that  work for my naturally dry hair.  

  • Deep Condition with a natural deep conditioner after every wash (This improves the integrity of your cuticles, it takes moisture and/or  protein deep into the hair strand, and cold rinses locks this in, rinse with cold water) 
  • Limit the use of shampoos or how often you shampoo, especially sulfate shampoos (Shampoos are made to remove dirt and OILS.. Our hair NEED oils, so if you shampoo too often, this could cause your hair to look and  feel drier. Other options are Apple Cider Vinegar rinses, or Co-washes)
  • Limit heat styling (Tools like blow dryers and flat irons pulls moisture out of your hair, so if you are using them regularly you will experience dryer hair, and eventually splitting and breakage) 
  •  Always deep condition after Henna, with a MOISTURIZING deep conditioner.  Henna or any type of Ayurvedic powder use to treat your hair can leave it feeling dry. (Put on a plastic cap and sit under a heat cap,  hooded dryer, thermal wrap, use whatever you need to get a good deep conditioning in after using these powders). 
  • Use a Leave in Conditioner( All of mine are water based, creamy and natural. If your hair is very thick and/or coarse some of the thinner leave ins will not be moisturizing enough.  
  • Apply a Water Based Moisturizer( I use natural moisturizers,  all water based. Oils and butters are not moisturizers)
  • Apply oil after you moisturize, to lock in moisture(I've found that Extra Virgin Olive oil works best for my texture, its light enough to penetrate into the strand of the hair, and heavy enough to leave enough on top to lock in all the moisture that I just applied. ) 
  • Finally, I add moisture to my hair every single day, at least once a day, and lock it in again with my oil. EVERY DAY.

Braid out that had been moisturized all week

*The key for me is to not let  my hair dry out.  How do you know when YOUR hair needs moisture? Just reach up and feel it?  Don't feel like you have to stick to a moisturizing "schedule." Let the way your hair feels dictate when it needs to be moisturized. (or you can add it every day to ensure it never goes dry)   Some women suffering from dryness have shared with me that they will go 2 or more days without adding moisture to their hair, and then wonder why it feels dry.  Our hair NEEDS moisture added, OFTEN.

How do I keep the good feeling going? 

Throughout the week when I am re-moisturizing my hair, I will sometimes spray my hair with a little water, add a  little leave in, moisturizer, and oil before bed.

If you really want to get a handle on dry hair, try these tips, and I can almost guarantee  that your hair will NOT be dry!

Well, Until Next Time!