Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Healthy Hair Practices: Stretching Relaxers

Hello everyone,
Today I want to focus on relaxed hair and shed some light on one of the most important practices that contributes to healthy relaxed (bone straight or texturized) hair.

What does it mean to stretch your relaxer?
Traditionally hair stylists have encouraged women to relax their hair every 4 to 6 weeks. Stretching your relaxer means lengthening the period between your touch ups, so instead of 4 to 6 weeks, you wait for 8 to 10 weeks or more.

Why stretch your relaxer?

-To prevent over lapping
Hair grows on average  half an inch per month. When touching up a relaxer, chemical is supposed to be applied to the new growth but if there is only half inch of curly new growth it becomes very difficult to prevent relaxer from getting on the already relaxed hair. This results in overlapping the relaxer which causes the hair to become over processed, brittle and prone to breakage.

-To give your scalp a break from harsh chemicals

-To give you enough time to treat the hair and strengthen it before the next chemical application.


Risk associated with stretching relaxers
The line of demarcation is where the relaxed hair meets the natural new growth, this area is the weakest point on the strand and can easily be broken. If you are not planning to following all or most of the tips below, it is better to stick with the traditional 4-6 week intervals for relaxing. You will do more harm than good if you stretch your relaxer without taking proper care of your hair.

Tips for stretching relaxers

1. Never allow your new growth to curl up.
You must always allow your new growth to dry in a stretched state. This can be done by drying in 6 to 8 ponytails, bantu knots, braids, canerows. All of these styles pull the roots straight, remember this is to be done while the roots are wet so that it dries stretched.

2. Keep the new growth moisturized
Deep conditioning and moisturizing with a spray containing glycerine helps to moisturize the new growth. Many long term stretchers use 'S-curl' spray on the roots (only the roots) every night, then pull the hair into a stretched state (using one of the above methods) and allow it to dry overnight.  Please note this spray is to be used on the roots only, not on the relaxed hair and it can cause the hair to become too soft.

3. WIDE tooth combs ONLY
When stretching your relaxer it is not advisable to use fine tooth combs to comb through your tightly curled new growth, that's just asking for breakage

4. Protein
Protein is very important as it helps strengthen the strands. Get protein by deep conditioning and also by using a leave in with protein on your relaxed hair.

5, Stretch Gradually
Gradually increase your stretching period to get your hair accustomed to stretching and for you to master the different techniques. If you currently relax every 6 weeks, then try for 7 the next time, then for 8 and continue to build up to an interval you are satisfied with. I think 10-12 weeks is good for bone straight relaxed hair. Texturized ladies can stretch a bit longer because their line of demarcation is not as fragile. I texturize my hair every 6 months.

6. Low Manipulation
Try to comb your hair once a week for the most, at 8 weeks post relaxer is not the time to comb through your hair every day. Instead, opt for low manipulation styles like updo's, roller sets, braid outs, bantu knot outs. Try banana clips instead of ponytails that leave a big 'hump' at the top of your head. Some people use braids and weaves but be careful with this as the weight of the synthetic hair can put stress on the fragile line of demarcation. Also remember to continue to spray your hair with a good leave-in conditioner containing protein while its in the braids/ weave

7. BE GENTLE
Again, while streching the hair is fragile, be gentle and patient while detangling. Try to do this while the hair is wet and full of conditioner. If dry detangling works better for you, be sure to use a detangling spray on the roots.

For more information on stretching relaxers, search it on youtube, there are many ladies with beautiful relaxed hair that share their journey and techniques concerning this practice.

I hope this post was useful, feel free to ask questions.. thanks for reading.

HHJ
Ren