Monday, 10 February 2014

Relaxing | Self Relaxer Preparation



This how I self-relax my hair with a no lye relaxer. Everything detailed here is a combination of my own personal experience with relaxers, what I've read online and from books. I am not a professional.

DO NOT relax on hair that is breaking or damaged.
If you are going to relax take the time to get your hair at it's best so you have the best results.
Do not try applying a relaxer yourself if you are not confident, please go to a professional instead.

Now let's begin, this is a pretty long post but I didn't want to miss anything...

The week before the day of your relaxer

3-7 days before relaxer day clarify to remove product build up and do the necessary conditioning treatments.
Relaxers break the hair's protein bonds, so it's good to do a protein treatment before relaxing.
Test porosity as low porosity hair might not relax and porous hair might be relaxed too easily. 
Hair needs to be fully dry and detangled 2 days before relaxer day as the scalp needs time to build up it's protective barrier (by producing sebum) to prevent scalp burns.
Do not comb or scratch the scalp as this causes damage leading to burns. 
Patch test. Section off about an inch of the hair, apply relaxer to the new growth and neutralise as normal. Take note of the results to guide how the relaxer will be applied on relaxer day.

Before the applying the relaxer

Read relaxer instructions!
Gather your tools before mixing the relaxer to make sure you have them all. You will need: plastic sectioning clips (not metal), an applicator brush/sprush, a plastic mixing bowl (optional), Vaseline or a protective base for the scalp, a thick conditioner or oil to protect previously relaxed ends, gloves and of course the relaxer kit. You will also need a timer and a old towel to put around your shoulders. 
Section the hair into 4 sections as shown in the relaxer instructions. You can make sections within the four sections to make the application process faster. 
Apply the protective base to your whole scalp but not on the hair as it will stop it from relaxing.
Apply oil/protective cream to previously relaxed hair.
Decide on your method of application i.e. self-relaxers might add oil to the relaxer in order to slow the process down and give themselves more time or have someone apply the relaxer to the back sections whilst they do the front. I use the half half method which involves relaxing half of your hair at a time. 

Applying the relaxer

If using no-lye, mix the relaxer until its a creamy, uniform consistency (usually for 1-2 minutes).
Start the timer!
Apply to the new growth only, one section at a time.
Start in areas that take longer to process. For me it's the middle so I start with one of the back sections and apply top to bottom. Try to rotate where you start relaxing i.e. if you last relaxed the left side first, start with the right side on your next relaxer.
Apply relaxer to the hairline/edges and nape last as these areas are the most delicate.
Most home relaxer instructions state to spend just 8 minutes in total applying the relaxer so you have to work quickly for an even result. 
SMOOTH SMOOTH SMOOTH. It's the smoothing process that makes the hair straight.
Aim for 80% straightness as 'bone straight' hair leaves the hair weaker.
Do not leave on until you feel burning! Your scalp should never burn.
Rinse with water and make sure ALL visible traces of the relaxer are gone before neutralising.
OPTIONAL: Before neutralising you can apply a protein treatment (leave 5 minutes extra to do this step).
Neutralise (with the shampoo that came in your relaxer kit). For the first use keep it on the hair for 5 minutes giving it time to neutralise. Rinse and apply again. Neutralising locks the hair in it's current state so keep smoothing the hair straight. Rinse and apply again. By this point you don't have to keep the hair straight.
Make sure all traces of the relaxer are gone before doing anything else. Some relaxer kits come with a colour indicator shampoo which I personally prefer as these let you know if the relaxer is still in your hair.
Protein step! As you've just broken your protein bonds by relaxing put it back to keep your hair strong.
MOISTURE MOISTURE MOISTURE. Use a moisturising deep conditioner after protein.
Test porosity. Relaxers dramatically lift the hair cuticle and porosity may have to be corrected.
Apply moisturiser/leave-in as normal and you're done!

Try to be gentle with your hair for the next week or so and monitor how well the relaxer process went. Another protein/moisturising treatment might be needed. Try to avoid heat as this could cause damage whilst your hair is in a weakened state.

By following these guidelines you should experience minimal breakage or damage.
Please don't use a relaxer before knowing how to apply it correctly and seek the advice of a professional. Relaxers are damaging, but it's the improper use of relaxers or not caring for your hair afterwards which can cause more problems.

Lesley x
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Post updated & reposted 10/02/14