• Non-Exhaustive Guide to Relaxed Hair (Part 1)

    Relaxed hair is by no means hard to take care of. While it does require a bit more attention, patience, and care, it can flourish just as much if not more than non-chemically treated hair, or natural hair.

    Relaxed hair, while it is lacking its natural coils and kinks it is still ethnic hair. Meaning it still requires similar care to natural (3-4 type hair) hair. The main difference is the physical curls have gone or have been loosened by the chemical process. The same feel, fine-ness (or lacktherof), dryness (or lacktherof), and ability to take on whatever shape the hair has been styled into still remains.

    Chemically straightening the hair, involves applying a chemical (typically with an ammonium, potassium, or sodium base), to either the new growth, or virgin hair. The chemical typically ranges in the 9-13 Ph range, which raises the hair cuticles in order to reach the cortex to break up or space the disulfide bonds in the hair. This isn't what straightens the hair, that part happens by the actual mechanical straightening being done. Either by your hands, or the back of a comb, or a wooden stick. The chemical's job is to simply break of the bonds, and the mechanical movements are what repositions the bonds to achieve a straighter look. After the smoothing, it is to be rinsed out, (whole application and smoothing process should not exceed 25 mins) and a neutralizing shampoo is applied to hair to bring the Ph of the hair back down to its normal 4.5-4.5 range. A protein treatment is followed to help strength the hair from the chemicals, and a deep conditioner is applied to balance out the protein treatment. Leave-ins can be applied as well for more strengthening and protection.


    Now that that long introduction is out of the way, we can begin delving into the subsections of caring for relaxed hair.

    1. Shampooing

    • Keeping a clean and healthy scalp is very important. Depending upon how oily (or not), your hair is, will depend on how frequently you need to wash. On average most ladies will wash once a week, with 3-4 days being on the more frequent side, and 10 days or more being on the longer side of washing.
    • There is absolutely no need to shampoo your length unless you are clarifying or chelating (we will touch more on that later). Most of the dirt, and excess oils are located on the scalp and perhaps, 3-4 inches from the scalp. With ethnic hair, most of the oils cant reach the ends due to all the bumps and kinks and curls that the natural sebum oils cant make across (including relaxed hair). Most products contain sulfates (at least the ones bought in stores), and can be very drying for the hair. Here are some helpful techniques to try when shampooing:



    • CWC (condition, wash, condition)= this technique is condition washing the length, or the entire head, rinsing, shampooing the scalp, or entire length, then following with another condition wash
    • opting for sulfate free shampoo
    • shampoo the roots and scalp only
    • co-washing



    • All of these methods are very helpful, but I find that CWC, while shampooing the scalp only, and conditioning the length, creates a barrier to prevent the ends from drying out



    2. Conditioning


    This part of washing is rather important. With ethnic hair, specifically relaxed hair, moisture is your best friend. Typically this can be done more often than shampooing. Depending on whether your hair likes silicones or not is completely up to you. Find conditioners that provide ample amounts of slip, and can soften the hair prior to detangling. If you have a sensitive scalp it is important to avoid putting conditioner on the scalp as to not cause irritation. Avoid conditioners with the following ingredients:

    • mineral oil (block out any moisture, can make the hair feel rough and dry)
    • phlathalates (while these may be okay for some peoples hair, this is a preservative)
    • parabens (type of preservative, can be drying to the hair)


    3. Deep Conditioning


    Probably the one thing more important that conditioning, would be deep conditioning. This process ensures the hair is moisturized while providing either a protein or moisturizing treatment if the hair needs it. With heat added, the hair can receive even more benefits, while the product can further penetrate the hair.

    Depending on your hair's porosity (we will also touch on this later), will depend on whether you need to deep condition with heat, or can deep condition without it sometimes.

    Deep conditioning can be done for 10-30mins, a few hours, or overnight, but be careful to not over saturate your hair with moisture as this can cause over stretching or moisture overload.

    It is best to find a deep conditioner that is moisture/protein balanced.

    Be sure to deep condition with a plastic cap as well.


    you could cut back on co-washing, and mainting dee conditioning, and have your hair still flourish. However, deep conditioning should be done no less that 2 times a week for optimal moisture retention.

    5. Protein/moisture balance

    Concerning relaxed hair, it is key to have a regimen or wash routine that includes a protein/moisture balance. Hair with too much protein tends to break off, is brittle and dry even when wet, and can feel and appear straw like. Hair that is over moisturized can be extremely stretchy, Mushy, and can break easily. A good rule of thumb:

    • 90% moisture to 10% protein
    • 80% moisture to 20% protein


    The best option would be 90/10. 90% of the time you are using a moisturizing conditioner or deep conditioner, and following up with a light protein leave in or moisturizer.

    With relaxed hair even if you are not sure whether you need a protein or moisturizing treatment, always opt for a balanced moisturizing and protein treatment

    6. Detangling

    most if not all, breakage and damage will occur around detangling, or handling your hair.

    Ethnic hair is already fragile and prone to dryness and breakage. Relaxed ethnic hair can be even more fragile.

    Finger detangling ensures the least amount of damage. You can feel where any tangles or knots have formed and remove them gently.

    A wide tooth comb comb is the next best bet. A plastic comb with no seams, or a seamless sanded wooden comb are best.

    Paddle brushes are okay, if your hair doesnít experience breakage, but try to brush and detangle in sections to ensure all tangles have been removed gently.

    denman brushes, fine tooth combs, and tangle teasers often cause more harm than good. With long relaxed hair, thereís plenty of opportunity for tangles, and ethnic hair is mostly on the finer/medium fine side, and can be rather dense, with the individual hairs moving in whatever direction they please. The teeth on the aforementioned tools tend to be very small and close together which does allow all the hair to flow smoothly through, and rip out hairs and shred through them, instead of detangling them. : If you have had success with the denman brush or tangle teaser, then carry on, but it would be best to detangle in small sections to ensure no breakage is occurring.

    7. porosity

    This is the hairís ability to absorb and release moisture.

    Normal porosity hair tends to absorb a normal amount of water, and will let go of a normal amount of water.

    low porosity hair tends to not absorb moisture as readily and wonít let go of moisture so easily either

    high porosity hair will absorb high amounts of moisture, but will also let go of high amounts of moisture.

    With normal porosity hair, keep on top of deep conditioning, keep moisture balanced with protein, and deep condition with heat regularly. Moisturize and seal (wil be explained later) accordingly as well.

    lower porosity hair will need a bit more heat during deep conditioning to ensure the product can penetrate the hair. Be sure not to pile up products on the hair, as they can sit and make the hair feel weighed down and can result in product buildup. Keep on top of moisture and protein treatments (little lower on the protein treatments), and moisturize and seal of needed.

    High porosity hair hair needs a bit more attention. Keep on top of protein treatments, and keep an eye on how much moisture you are giving your hair as to not over moisturize it. Be sure to deep condition a bit more frequently, and seal to make sure moisture isnít evaporating as soon as it is applied to the hair.
    This article was originally published in blog: Non-Exhaustive Guide to Relaxed Hair (Part 1) started by AutobotsAttack
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. lapushka's Avatar
      lapushka -
      Wow lots of work went into that!
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