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!!


Cheryl "Action" Jackson said...

What a great write up!!! Thank you for answering all the questions I HAD!!! You are an expert!

Chan said...

Thank you Ms ACTION! I am so glad that I was able to help! Please keep following my blog! Most of the tips I share works on relaxed hair as well!

Anonymous said...

This is a great write-up - I started going natural by stretching my time between relaxers. Instead of going 6-8 weeks like clockwork, I started doing 3 months, then 4 months between them. After a while I realized that I really liked the feeling of my new growth underneath and that it was stronger and more versatile, so that's when I made the decision to go natural. But all of this is great advice! There are a lot of great products and information out there now about stretching, so we absolutely don't need to go to the hairdresser every 6 weeks anymore.

Chan said...

Hello amaterasu-no-ki thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your comment. I appreciate it. : ) I am happy that you found the content to be great advice. Your story also proves that stretching does lead you to Healthier Happier Hair!

jerseygirl1977 said...

great advise. when i was relaxed i would stretch my relaxer and using less hair. some of these basic tips can help you grow and keep healthy relaxed hair.

AshlynnMonrose said...

I found this piece to be very informational. Great job, and thanks! I've been transitioning since Jan '13. I just made up my mind to do it- see how long I could go. I'm addicted to the sleek/straight look, so you can see where this would be very trying for me. Lol Anywho, I had a hair epiphany the other day, and decided I wanted to relax mu hair. That's when I found your blog. I'm still torn in between. I'm not feeling my natural hair texture plus, it's a task to keep it straight in that state. Smh Help?...

Chan said...

Hello AshleyMonroe! Thank you for I am glad that this article helped you! Congrats on your healthy hair journey, and decision to transition to natural hair. You've gone a good distance! It definitely is not always easy once you get this far in. I transitioned for 9 months and I do recall wanting to throw in the towel around this time! lol.

I will say that once you do part with the relaxed ends(if you do decide to see it through) your natural texture will actually feel a lot better and it will be easier to moisturize and manipulate. Your natural hair texture will also fully come alive once you've had a chance to nurture it without the relaxed ends attached.

I personally don't believe its a good idea to try and straighten your roots to bend in with your relaxed ends. It's always a fight trying to make the two textures match because they are so different. It's a lot easier to wear curlier styles like rod sets or braid outs putting rollers on the ends. Because you have been relaxed it does makes sense that you would have a preference to silky straight hair because its what you are use to. But you may surprise your self later on. I have had a lot of women tell me who are now fully natural, and have been for awhile, that they would have NEVER believed that they would love wearing their natural hair.

I think you won't truly know the potential of your natural hair until you give it a good chance. And that typically takes about 2 years for most people. They usually know after about 2 years of growth what their natural hair is going to be like. The first year it will go through so many changes with you trying to adjust and find the right products and techniques that you just have to tough it out, if being natural is what you really want it will be worth it! But if not, hey you can still obtain healthy hair relaxed, just follow a healthy hair care regimen and it will still thrive. It's all about what works for you and what you will be comfortable with in the long run!

If you like check out my transitioning photo albums at Or you can go to the home page of this blog and click on Chan's Photo Hair journey(located on the left hand side below my Meet the Owner bio). Go there and take a look at my 8 mos transitioning journey to see what I did to make it!

Chan said...

Thanks Jerseygirl1977 for stopping by, sorry it took me so long to see this post didn't realized you left a comment. Yes you are correct its what I did when I was relaxed too! And my hair was a lot thicker and of course healthier.