How To Care For And Maintain Relaxed Hair

Written by Ramona Sinha

For women born with kinky hair, wearing your hair straight can be a dream. It is not only simpler to manage but also a lot easier to style. Several women out there have embraced their naturally curly hair, but caring for it takes time and effort.

It is one reason why women consider getting their hair relaxed. While chemically relaxed hair is easy to maintain, it needs a thorough hair care routine to prevent damage, frizz, and breakage. Keep reading to learn how to maintain your relaxed locks.

What Is Relaxed Hair?

Hair relaxing is a chemical hair straightening technique for kinky and curly natural hair. For years, African, Afro-American, and Latin descent women have used it to manage their hair and increase its length. The process involves applying hair relaxers (a chemical) across the lengths of the hair.

Let us now understand the science behind relaxed hair.

The Science Behind Hair Relaxers

Hair relaxers are products that break the natural bonds in your hair strands and give them a new configuration to straighten them.
Our hair is made of a protein called keratin, held together by disulfide, hydrogen, and salt bonds (1). The disulfide bonds are the strongest, and the way they are distributed across the hair stands determines their shape. Uneven distribution of the disulfide bonds makes the hair curly (2).

Hydrogen and salt bonds are weaker and can be reconfigured temporarily with hair styling tools. However, disulfide bonds are more difficult to work with and need a chemical agent to reconfigure their shape. That is where the relaxers come in.

Now that you know the science behind hair relaxers and choose to go ahead with them, here are a few things to avoid before the process.

Things To Avoid Before Relaxing Your Hair

1. Shampooing Immediately Before Relaxing

Avoid shampooing and wetting your hair before using hair relaxers. Your scalp and hair should have enough time to rest between the last wash and the chemical treatment. Otherwise, it may damage the hair and cause chemical burns. Shampoo at least a week before using hair relaxers.

2. Do Not Detangle

Avoid detangling your hair just before relaxing. It may increase the chances of scalp irritation. Instead, detangle the night before with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb. Use the comb only along the lengths of your hair and avoid touching your scalp.

3. Coloring Your Hair

Multiple treatments on your hair can cause irreparable damage, and there will be no going back. Permanent hair colors contain harsh chemicals and should be avoided before relaxing.

With a proper hair care regimen, you can maintain the quality of your relaxed hair. Here are a few tips to help you out.

How To Care For Relaxed Hair

1. Use A Gentle Shampoo

Washing your hair more than twice every week may strip the natural oils and make your relaxed hair look dull and dry. Use a mild, CG-friendly, and SLS-free shampoo specially formulated for relaxed or chemically treated hair. Also, shampoo your hair not more than once a week.

2. Deep Conditioning

Your relaxed hair care regimen will be incomplete without deep conditioning. Relaxed hair needs extra moisture and hydration. Use hair masks and conditioners that contain natural oils. Cover your head with a plastic cap and wrap a warm towel over it. Let it sit for at least 30-40 minutes for the best results.

You can also opt for co-washing, which means washing your hair only with a conditioner. It will clean your hair and add moisture to it at the same time.

3. Avoid Heat Styling

Heating tools tend to dry your hair, and overdoing them can also make the hair brittle and frizzy. Ditch the blow dryers and curling irons after relaxing or use them sparingly.

4. Avoid Brushing

Avoid brushing your hair for a few days after relaxing your hair. It may damage your hair cuticles and cause breakage and frizziness. As your hair is already sensitive from using relaxers, it is best to use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to detangle.

5. Do Not Use Permanent Hair Dyes

Hair dyeing is not advisable after relaxing your hair. Hair colors contain chemicals, and back-to-back chemical applications may further damage the hair. Instead of using permanent hair dyes, consider semi-permanent options like sprays, color wands, or touch-up powders. Ensure all products are ammonia-free.

6. Go For Regular Trimming

Regular trimming helps get rid of the dry and damaged ends and makes your relaxed hair look healthier.

7. Use A Protective Cover At Night

Wrap your hair with a silk scarf or wear a sleeping cap to avoid friction and breakage.
While hair relaxing may seem easy to tame your unruly kinky hair, chemical relaxers can also damage the hair and cause frizziness, dandruff, and hair thinning (3). Read on to find out the side effects of hair relaxing.

The Side Effects Of Hair Relaxing

1. Frizziness

Chemical hair relaxers strip the natural oils from your scalp and hair, making the strands dry, brittle, and breakage-prone.

2. Dandruff

Chemical relaxers may affect scalp health and increase its sensitivity. This may cause flakiness and lead to dandruff. Avoid frequent chemical treatments to keep your scalp healthy. Go for chemical relaxing if you want to grow your hair long.

3. Split Ends

Chemical relaxers strip the natural oils from your hair, which makes it dry and susceptible to breakage and split ends. To prevent this, you have to use deep moisturizers for your hair and regularly trim the ends to maintain hair health.

4. Chemical Burns

Chemical relaxers are alkaline, while our scalp has an acidic pH (because of the natural oils) and may burn and irritate the scalp (4). It is better to apply petroleum jelly to your hairline and other exposed areas to prevent chemical burns.

In the next sections, find out more about how long the effect of relaxers may last and the best products you can use to care for your relaxed hair.

Are The Effects Of Hair Relaxers Permanent?

No. The result will not be permanent. Once your hair starts growing, it will follow the natural curl pattern. You may have to go for regular touch-ups to maintain the look. Also, shampooing may wash off the chemicals in the long run, and you may see the effects fading unless you are using products designed explicitly for relaxed hair.

The Final Word

Chemical hair relaxers make the hair manageable and are especially helpful if you are trying to grow your natural hair. However, it requires a lot of maintenance and a thorough hair care routine to prevent the damaging effects of the chemicals. If you are willing to undergo the treatment, follow the after-care tips discussed in the article to maintain your relaxed hair. You can also consult your hairstylist for after-care tips and product suggestions as per your hair type and texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is hair relaxation the same as rebonding?

No. Both processes use chemical straighteners, but the results differ. Rebonding breaks the natural hair bonds to make the hair poker-straight, while relaxers will soften the curls and give them a smoother texture.

Can relaxed hair go back natural?

Yes. As the hair grows, it will follow the natural curl pattern. Moreover, the chemicals may fade with regular washing and lack of maintenance to reveal the natural curl pattern.


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