My friend Alecia always looks great. She's the kind of girl who can wear jeans and a t-shirt with Converse sneakers and she still looks elegant. Yeah, don't hate on her! She's also one of the sweetest people I know and she was cool enough to share her techniques and secrets on what she uses to relax her hair.
Every 6-8 weeks, I relax my hair, but just the roots, which is about 1-2 inches of new growth. Be aware that there are different strength relaxers. I use Super, since my hair is course and thick.
What you will need (aka Alecia's favorite brands):
- No-Lye relaxer system that includes relaxer, activator, gloves, stirring
tool, shampoo, conditioner, and grease -- Dark & Lovely No-Lye Conditioning Relaxer System or Organics by Africa's Best Olive Oil Conditoning Relaxer System, No-Lye work well.
- Towel to protect your clothing
- Comb and rubber bands to section your hair
- Disposable shower cap
- Frizz serum -- I use Citre Shine Anti-Frizz Serum, Highly Laminating
- Olive oil lotion -- Organic Root Olive Oil Moisturize is a good one.
- Flat iron (a wider iron will make things go faster, but if your hair is shorter, a one-inch is the best option)
- When relaxing my hair, I part my hair into four sections. I start with the front sections moving back, making sure to apply the relaxer on top of each piece of hair and beneath to cover each strand of hair.
- Continue for each of the sections. It usually takes me about 20 minutes.
- I typically keep the relaxer in my hair for 30-45 minutes, depending on how well the relaxer is working or if the solution is starting to burn.
- After the relaxer is in, go back through the sections smoothing the pieces of hair with your fingers or the back of a comb -- do not comb your hair.
- Try to keep the relaxer only on the new growth, otherwise you might damage your hair that's already been relaxed.
- Tip: Open a window or turn on a fan, the chemical smell is pretty strong.
- Once you think you've waited long enough for the relaxer to set in, rinse your hair.
- Make sure all of the relaxer is out of your hair before shampooing.
- Follow the shampooing directions (Dark & Lovely has a shampoo that turns pink to let you know if there is still relaxer in your hair).
- I shampoo my hair 2-3 times to make sure the relaxer is completely gone.
- Follow up with the provided conditioner, comb your hair, put on a shower cap and leave in for 10-15 minutes.
- Note: Relaxer can be very drying, occasionally I leave the conditioner in for 30 minutes if my hair feels stringy.
- Rinse out conditioner.
- Apply a frizz serum and blowdry your hair.
- Once the hair is completely dry, apply a hair cream -- to make sure that your hair isn't dried out.
- Note: Even though I've just relaxed my hair, it's still a little puffy, since it's thick. If you want your hair as straight as it would get from a visit to the salon, invest in a flat iron to smooth your roots and ends. I start at the back and go forward when flat ironing my hair, because the flatiron tends to get hotter as I move forward -- so the front of my head will be straight with one pass through.
- Style and go.
Have any additional tips on relaxing African-American hair? Please share!