Most of us are use to hearing the hair type discussion come up only in the natural hair community. But it can also be a valuable resource to ladies who relax their hair.
I spent many a years, feeding into the myth that I needed the extra, extra, EXTRA strength relaxer in order to get my hair straight. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what to do to keep my new growth at bay and thought there was some magic secret to the girls who were able to go 3-6 months in between relaxers. (Sidenote: If you can go six months without a relaxer…uhhh why are you getting one in the first place? Hit that flatiron beaux) In the process I was over processing my hair, burning my scalp and still wasn’t able to slick down my hair with just water + jam (lol @ the goals I had in middle school)! I thought I was out growing my relaxer too fast or I needed a stronger relaxer, when none of that was the case.
It wasn’t until I took a family vacation to Florida and my Uncle D, a hairdresser, put me on – that I was able to get that bone straight, flowing hair that I desired. Uncle D, ushered me into his hair salon, took one look at my hair and promptly informed me that my kink needed to be treated with care. The tip he gave me: I have extremely coarse hair, that loops around itself (read: tangles), which is why my new growth was a problem. My hair makes a Z-formation (popularily known as Type 4C hair) and so it’s very important that I gentally COMB the relaxer through my hair, to ensure that it straightens out the cuticle. The chemical process of a relaxer pushes the pH balance of hair towards the alakine side of the scale in order to temporarily breakdown the compunds of the cuticle causing it to straighten out. Just so happens that with my hair type, the immediate reaction to the relaxer isn’t to go straight. So I need to be extra patient and comb the relaxer thoroughly through each section of my hair, not leaving the relaxer in for longer than 30 minutes.
Overprocessing is the devil and scabs are not cute as my Uncle D informed me. It’s a very big misconception that leaving a relaxer in for longer than recommeneded is ever necessary. It is not. If the relaxer says 15 minutes, then don’t leave it in for longer than 15 minutes, just make sure to thoroughly comb it through in that 15 minutes.
Understanding what your natural hair type is beneficial for those who relax because since the goal is to straighten your curl, you should understand how that curl is formed to begin with. It will give you realistic expections, help you understand how long you can go in between relaxers and just might save you from an overprocessed, burnt scalp.
No matter the hairstyle choice or texture it’s always best practice to understand your hair.