At Antidote Street we believe in enjoying your hair - so that means we support rocking your hair long, short, curly, straight, big, sleek, pink, blue, braided, in a fro, under a wig - you get the idea. Hair should be FUN and however you're rocking it, we're here to provide you with the tips and product recommendations you need to keep it healthy and happy.
That's why we've teamed up withAyesha, aka @healthyhairjunkie, who is sharing her personal secrets to maintaining her relaxed hair in the best health possible. And we've gone one better - we've put together a specially curated Relaxed Hair Kit with allll the products you need to care for your relaxed tresses.
Your pre-relaxer preparation is a really important step in your relaxer routine and should take place between 3-5 days before your relaxer.
Clarifying Shampoo -
Start by washing your hair, in sections, with a clarifying shampoo. This ensures that there is no product buildup to disrupt the straightening process.
Protein treatment -
A relaxer works by breaking down the proteins in your hair. In order to prepare your hair for this process, following up your clarifying shampoo with a protein treatment strengthens your hair before relaxing.
Deep Conditioner -
As always, you’ll want to follow up a protein treatment with a moisturising deep conditioner. I add lots of moisturising oils to one of my favourite moisturising conditioners and cover with a plastic cap to lock in the moisture. Adding heat during this important step helps increase the absorption rate of the conditioner.
Low manipulation styling-
In the days leading up your relaxer, keep contact with your hair to a minimum. That means, no washing, minimal combing and most importantly, no scratching. Try to keep your hands out of your hair as stimulating your scalp close to your relaxer can lead to chemical burns. So master that head tap, keep your nails out of your scalp and stay away from essential oils too!
In the lead up to your relaxer and especially the night before, give your hair some TLC by moisturising and oiling the full length of your hair. This creates a barrier between the relaxer and your previously relaxed hair which can help reduce thinning from the relaxer process over time.
Choosing a relaxer can be pretty overwhelming. One thing to remember is, whichever relaxer you choose, a successful relaxer is down to the preparation, the individual’s hair and the person applying it.
The most common types of relaxers are lye and no-lye relaxers.
Lye relaxers are most commonly used in salons and are sodium hydroxide based relaxers with a higher pH.
No-lye relaxers are mostly found in your box relaxers and are generally considered less irritating to the scalp than lye relaxers and take longer to process.
If you’re relaxing at a salon, make sure you do your research and if possible have a consultation beforehand so your stylist knows which relaxer would be better suited for your hair.
If you’re relaxing at home, whether you choose a lye or no-lye relaxer, make sure you research how to apply the relaxer for optimum results or enlist the help of someone who can!
How to maintain healthy relaxed hair
A good relaxed hair regime is all about striking a balance between moisture and protein.
You can achieve this by moisturising with a water-based moisturiser daily, or as frequently as your hair requires, deep conditioning with a moisturising conditioner at least once a week and strengthening your hair with monthly protein treatments. If your hair is feeling particularly dry between washes, introducing a mid-week co-wash can keep your hair moisturised until its next shampoo.
Keep manipulation to a minimum
Styling your hair in low-manipulation styles that you can keep in for a few days without having to restyle or protective styles that don’t need restyling for weeks at a time, will reduce the amount of manipulation your hair requires. Over-manipulation can lead to unnecessary breakage and stress on your tresses.
Resist the temptation to heat style
Although it can be tempting to use heat between your relaxers, try and keep heat styling to a minimum. Overuse can lead to dryness, thinning and split ends. Air drying and rocking more textured styles such as braid outs and twist outs will get you through your relaxer stretch.
Don't fear the product aisle - but choose your ingredients wisely
Don’t be scared to experiment and see which products work well on your hair and when you find what works well, stick with it. When it comes to experimenting with products, try and swap one ingredient for something you use regularly so you can see how your hair reacts to that particular product alongside your usual routine. Healthy hair is less about the products you use and more so the healthier practices you adopt. As there are a lot more product lines specifically aimed at naturals, don’t be scared to try these too! Remember the ingredients are the most important thing to look out for and most products can be used on relaxed hair.
Finally, at a time where relaxers seem to be uncommon, rest assured that there are still many women that opt for relaxers for different reasons, so you are not alone. There are so many women sharing their relaxed hair journeys online and across social media so you’re never short of inspiration and support!