Relaxers have a reputation for being able to damage natural hair. Like other chemicals when abused relaxers can cause severe burns and damage to scalp/hair. Like I mentioned in my previous post about ‘Preventing Hair Breakage’, it is actually possible to use relaxers and still maintain healthy hair. What if I told you that in order to reduce the damaging effects of relaxers you will have to dilute it with natural moisturizing oils and butter. Yes, you can do this by mixing any conditioning oil of your choice with a lye relaxer* before applying it to your hair.
* After diluting a lye relaxer with oil it becomes mild on your scalp, now you won’t have to deal with the drying calcium coating in no-lye relaxers. So, I recommend only lye relaxers for this process.
Natural oils like olive oil, castor oil, argan oil, avocado oil, almond oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil, shea butter or cocoa butter are great choices. Many times, I had to combine two to four types of oils to enhance their moisturizing and soothing benefits. Why mix conditioning oils with a relaxer? Relaxers help open up the hair shaft so the moisturizing oils can penetrate the hydro-lipid layer and do their magic. This might sound crazy but it is true. According to research relaxers have the ability to penetrate the cortex of hair strands and unwind the coil pattern by denaturing the protein that makes up our hair, they also make the hair shaft porous temporarily to allow entry/exit of moisture.
A lye relaxer
Note: This brand is not available in the US
Do not expect your hair to be overly straight, remember you reduced the strength of your relaxer. Here’s the rule of thumb: the higher the concentration of a relaxer, the higher its straightening power. In order to complete the straightening process after rinsing off the relaxer, you can do a wet roller setting. I recommend doing touch-ups to only new growth every 4 to 6 months to prevent stripping the cuticle of your hair.
Do ‘s and Don’t of relaxing:
- Detangle hair a couple days before relaxing.
- Do not wash hair before relaxing.
- Apply pomade or an oil-based conditioner to scalp and hair perimeter.
- Do not scratch scalp while relaxing.
- Do not comb while relaxing.
- Dilute your neutralizing shampoo.
- Use a conditioner containing marshmallow root and slippery elm to loosen tangles after shampooing.
- Deep condition hair
- Apply a leave-in conditioner.
Remember this method is totally safe and it ensures your hair does not dry out after processing.