Many people ask me am I natural and when I tell them that I have a relaxer, the next question is how often do I get my relaxers. When I tell them between every six months I get the draw dropping, eyebrow raising look before I get the question "How do you do that?!". The next statement ends up being something like how they could never do that because their hair tends to break after stretching for so long. Stretching your relaxer can be extremely beneficial, as it reduces the chances of overlapping relaxer onto hair that has been previously relaxed, over-processing, damage, and breakage. It can also help make your hair grow faster due to you aren't constantly putting chemicals on it.
If you have been getting your relaxers every six weeks, you obviously will not jump from getting your relaxer every six weeks to fourteen to sixteen weeks instantly. Instead, try going two weeks longer than usual and get your relaxers at eight weeks. Next, move it to ten weeks. Keep slowly stretching it out further and further until you reach a comfort zone. It is my personal recommendation that you make it your goal to end up doing sixteen week stretches. If you want to go longer that is fine, but I always use sixteen as the magic number because at that point you should have about two inches of new growth which is a safe amount to get relaxed without incurring any damage. I choose to go six months, which is approximately twenty-four weeks, because even at sixteen weeks I can still manage my new growth just fine.
I know a lot of people who say their hair starts breaking once its time for a relaxer. This is common as the line in the hair where the new growth meets the relaxed hair is very fragile. This is also known as the line of demarcation. The new growth is stronger due to the fact that it is basically virgin hair. If you are not gentle with your hair, it is more prone to breakage right at the line of demarcation. Therefore, you want to do the following things to keep your hair strong and allow you to stretch your relaxers.
- Get protein treatments regularly- Do this at least once per month, preferably two weeks before your relaxer. The protein will give your hair the strength it needs to be less prone to breakage.
- Get moisturizing treatments regularly- Moisturizing treatments (like this one) go hand in hand with protein treatments and should be done on the same day following your protein treatment. This will allow your hair to become elastic and stretch instead of being dry and brittle.
- Decrease exposure to heat- Use heat on your hair no more than once per week and keep it at the lowest setting that your hair will tolerate.
- Use oil on your scalp- Certain oils like coconut, avocado, and jojoba oil can help reduce shedding and breakage, making the hair stronger and able to withstand stretching your relaxers. You could also get an oil blend which is a mixture of all the top oils that help strengthen and nourish they hair (like this one).
- Wrap your hair nightly- Wrapping your hair EVERY night is critical in training your hair. It helps the new growth "lay down" thus making it easier to stretch out your relaxers.
Ladies! If you think you can not stretch your relaxers out, you are wrong! I used to also get my relaxers every six weeks so I know exactly what it is like. But it wasn't until I started stretching that I started seeing just how healthy my relaxed hair could be. You will never get that long, thick, healthy, AND relaxed hair by getting touch ups every 4-6 weeks, its just not going to happen. I am by no means opposed to relaxers because I don't know what I would do without mine, but you have to learn how to manage your new growth instead of running to the salon yelling touch up every time you see a small wave at the roots!
I challenge all of you relaxed beauties to go at least one week longer than your normally would before getting your relaxer touch ups. You will see that it honestly is not that bad! And in no time you'll be well on your way to only getting 2-3 relaxer touch ups per year.
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