Relaxing | Self Relaxer Preparation

Monday, 10 February 2014

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


  1. Hi Les,
    You did say here

    No less than 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.

    So, quick question..

    after clarifying your hair before relaxing/texlaxing , when do you then use the protein treatment on the hair before applying the relaxer? Couple of minutes before applying the relaxer or days before? thanx

    By the way,
    I am drooling over your hair...(smiles).

  2. Hi Ann
    Thanks :)
    It's good to clarify the hair and do a protein treatment as the last wash before your relaxer. So generally this would be done on the same day several days before your relaxer. This will help your hair maintain some strength during the relaxing process. I hope this helps


  3. Great tips. I've been blogging for almost three years and have self-relaxed in all that time and your blog is the first I have read this tip; "Keep smoothing the hair and keep it straight. Neutralising shampoo locks the hair in it's current state so disturbing it too much might not give you the result you want."! This makes so much sense and is something I have never ever considered during rinsing out the relaxer and neutralising. No prizes for guessing what I will be doing during my upcoming relaxer day :)

    1. Thank you! I'm glad it's helped you :) x

  4. Hi leslie, I am getting ready to relax, but I haven't had a relaxer for 5 months, my last relaxer was design essentials at the shop, but unfortunately it did not do well in my hair, after getting relaxed with it, a week later my hair was so course and dry it was crazy it looked like I needed a relaxer bad . I will be going back to olive oil no Lye box relaxer this time around so my ? Is should I clarify, deep condition then give it a protein treatment before the relaxer? or should I clarify, deep condition relax then give it a protein treatment before neutralizing it? I just want to get it right this time so that my relaxer can do well in my hair please help.

  5. Thanks for the advice, I'll be relxing my hair for the first time ever in october 2013
    I'm on a HHJ. I'm learning a lot about my hair
    Thanks again...

  6. Hi,

    I love your blog, I've been up all night reading it. Quick question, I have very dry scalp, borderline eczema/psorisis, when I do want to relax my hair it tends to be a painful experience so I now only relax my leave out and edges, the rest of my hair has been natural for 2 years.

    The question: (lol) I want to start texlaxing my hair, what would you suggest, processing wise?

  7. Where did you get the plastic sectioning clips? And, what do they look like exactly?

    1. Extremely late reply, apologies! They are the crocodile jaw-like clips pictured x

  8. Dear Lesley, I'm a big fan of your blog! I have THREE crucial QUESTIONS as a 4a fine low porosity girl:

    If I understand your process:

    1) Do you coat all of your hair, including NEW GROWTH but the night before to prep for a relaxer --and not right before relaxer application, as many texlaxers do? Then on relaxer day, you coat only previously relaxed hair?

    2) Your hair seems to be normal-high porosity. But in what ways could low porosity girls ADJUST your method ?

    Some low porosity naturals seem to use these adjusted texlax techniques:
    -flat ironing their hair (1-7 days before relaxer day).

    -Coating strands the night before but applying relaxer directly because low porosity hair has trouble opening cuticles so that the relaxer actually takes.

    THE BEST LESSON I learned in my 3 year hair journey was that every method sounds wonderful but yields different results according to the nature of the hair.

    Your final method seems to yield AMAZING results for your hair.
    So I'm interested in knowing if you had to tweak a lot before settling on this method?

    Did you ever, DILUTE your relaxer with a conditioner or oil?
    Did you ever use less activator?

    Many thanks for an answer whenever you can.

    1. Thank you Shelly

      1) I coat only my ends the night before to ensure they are protected and so my new growth still processes a little on relaxer day. On relaxer day I coat everything but I'm very careful to only put a little oil on my new growth.

      2) My hair was high porosity from extreme damage following heat abuse and over processing. My hair is actually naturally low porosity. If you are low porosity your hair is likely to be resistant to the chemical process or you may see uneven processing across the head. To combat this you may need to do patch test or collect shed hairs and apply the relaxer (remembering where the hairs came from). It may mean you'll have to leave the relaxer on longer to even get texlaxed results but don't go over the suggested processing time. If you are having real trouble getting the relaxer to 'take' in the week before your relaxer use products which don't work to smooth done the cuticle and of course rely on the methods that work for you which you stated above

      Yes I had to tweak my method a lot. I never used to protect my hair or even wash my hair the week before my relaxer when I wasn't on a hair journey. It sounds totally gross (and it is) but my stylist insisted I kept my hair 'dirty' as washing it led to burns. It took me a while to realise that as long as you don't wash your hair too soon before relaxer day you won't get burns.
      My mum also used to relax my hair when I stopped going to the salon and every time I tried to make tweaks she would just keep doing it her way. As soon as I started taking greater control over relaxer day and doing it myself I noticed improvements. The best thing you can do is experiment and I know that sounds crazy when applying it to relaxing but that's the only way you'll find a method that works right for you

      I have used oil in my relaxer with great results but I've never used conditioner. I've also not used less activator though would be interesting to try if I ever go back to using no lye relaxer

      I hope this helps x

  9. Can I reuse my old olive oil no lye relaxer for my next perm date. Or will the old perm damage or break my hair?

    1. No, please throw away any old no lye relaxers as these are not designed to be reused x

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