Saturday, February 8, 2014

How To Avoid Damage To Your Hair From Over-Processing

Ladies, ladies, ladies... I know I have said this one million times already but I feel the need to say it one more time... Stop relaxing your own hair!  Stop letting your friend, sister, mother, cousin, and anybody else that is NOT a professional put a relaxer in your hair.  Today I had a client who I saw clearly had damage due to relaxing at home.  Her mother relaxes her hair and once I shampooed it today, I could see very visible signs of damage and breakage already happening.  Prevention is the key!  Sure that $5 box relaxer is much cheaper than the $70 your hairstylist charges, but when that same hairstylist has to now treat and nurse that hair back to health it is going to cost you much more.  Yes, there are a few people out there that seem to be relaxing their own hair with no problems, but 99% of women who get their hair relaxed unprofessionally will have damage to their hair.  It may not happen the first time you do it, but trust me, over time you will see very noticeable changes in your hair.  I did not take pictures of the client's hair because to the untrained eye, it is harder to see.  I can explain it a lot better.  While styling the hair I noticed that the hair was much thicker at the root, not nappy thick, but just the actual hair strand was thick.  This is because it was the new growth, the hair that had never had any relaxer on it.  As I continued down the hair shaft, I noticed the hair began to frizz, and breakage was starting to occur at about two inches from the root. The rest of the hair down to the ends was thin.
This person has two inches of new growth and is ready for a touch up relaxer.

Now let me explain why all of this was happening.  When you are getting relaxers, the main goal is to ONLY relax the new growth.  All of the other hair has already been relaxed and since we know that a relaxer is permanent there is no need to relax already relaxed hair again.  Healthy hair grows at approximately a rate of half of an inch per month.  If you get your hair relaxed every six weeks that is only about every month and a half.  At six weeks, your hair is maybe three fourths of an inch, if that.  Typically, when you relax your hair, you comb down to about two inches from the root.  This means that you are relaxing all three fourths of the new growth plus another 1.25 inches of hair that has already been relaxed.  Then, when another six weeks passes by and you see a tiny wave of new growth you relax the hair again.  Well, again, you may have another three fourths inches of new growth.  If you add the three fourths of new growth you have this time with the previous three fourths from your last relaxer, that means you had a total of 1.5 inches of new growth in a total of twelve weeks.  However, if you are like the average person and process the hair two inches past the root, you are relaxing all three fourths of your new growth this time, plus ALL of the three fourths of the new growth you already relaxed from the previous six weeks, PLUS half an inch of the hair from the relaxer before that.  So basically every time you relax your hair, you are not only relaxing your new growth but also hair from your previous TWO relaxers.  This is called over-processing.

As your hair continues to get over-processed, it gets weaker and weaker, becoming thinner and thinner, and eventually breaking. Especially at the line of demarcation, or the line where the relaxed hair meets the natural hair, becomes the hair's weakest point and this is the point where the hair starts shedding and breaking.  This is why right around six weeks, it seems like the hair starts breaking.  Many women think this means that they need another relaxer. No, no no!!! This means that your hair is weak and is beginning to break from constantly being relaxed over and over.  Women whose hair becomes over-processed often feel like their hair grows to a certain length before it stops.  There is no such thing as stunted hair growth.  The hair is constantly growing and shedding, but due to over-processing it begins to shed more than it grows which results in feeling like it is no longer growing.  When you allow your hair to grow out a minimum of two inches before relaxing, it stops you from having over-processed hair.  Instead, all of the hair you process is hair that has never had relaxer on it before.  Are you noticing since getting relaxers that your hair is way thinner than before?  Now you know why.  And if your professional hairstylist is giving you a relaxer every time you request one, that is a problem and another blog post altogether.

Over-processing is why relaxers get a bad reputation.  People say they no longer want relaxers because they want healthier hair, but I have plenty of clients that have relaxed and healthy hair that is long and thick.  Anytime you use something, especially a chemical incorrectly, it will give you bad results.  So it is not necessarily the relaxer that is damaging your hair, but improper usage.  A professional doing your relaxer means you have someone that is trained to do your relaxer and they can clearly see where they need to stop when processing your relaxer.  From this day forward, strive to stretch those relaxers out to 12-16 weeks or when you see at least two inches of new growth.  Then you will notice your hair becoming healthier and healthier!

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