Dos And Don’ts To Think About Before You Decide To Relax Your Hair Again

November 29, 2012  |  

 

Are you natural and considering going back to relaxed hair? If you’re like me, then you’ve probably been thinking about it quite a bit. It’s been five years since I went natural for the second time around, making it, in total, 10 years of my adult life that I have been wearing chemically untreated hair. And once again, at the five-year mark, I am not-so-quietly yearning for the freedom and ease of relaxed hair. On the other hand, I love the versatility of being able to “switch it up” with my hair and wear it kinky one day and straight the next. However, truth be told, I don’t have the luxury of wearing my hair straight as often as I would like because it takes so much time to get it from its natural state to the sleek, face-framing waves that I find to be so personally flattering.

So as I weigh the options, I started to make a list of things to consider for anyone who is natural and thinking about relaxing their hair again:

RELAX IT if you like changing up your look and don’t mind the idea of chopping your hair again if you decide to go natural again (hey, no one could rock a TWA quite like you anyway!). If you’re not the type to have hair regrets and will try anything once, then it’s GAME ON. No harm, no foul here.

DON’T RELAX if you are shedding (hair from the root with the bulb clearly visible at the end) an abnormally large volume of hair. There may be a scalp issue or something else going on and chemicals may exacerbate the problem. Seek professional advice if you are unable to address the problem yourself.

RELAX IT if you find that you like wearing your hair straight most of the time and are always reaching for heat-styling tools to achieve this look. The truth is, over time, you are likely to do more damage from heat straightening than you would by relaxing every 4 to 5 months (or longer), that is, unless you have hair that responds very well to “heat training.”

Go ahead and RELAX YOUR HAIR if your biggest reason for staying natural is the fact that you don’t want to seem like a sellout. Life is too short to live for the opinions of others.

DON’T RELAX if you are freaking out because your hair is in that awkward in-between stage and you are longing for length. Patience, dear. Have you seen what caterpillars endure to become butterflies? Don’t give up on your transformation too soon. There are beautiful things in store.

DON’T RELAX if you are on the fence about this issue. Instead, consider a Brazilian Blowout or some other type of treatment that will temporarily loosen your curl pattern for more manageability, but won’t permanently alter it, especially if you tend to wear your hair straight only on special occasions. There is no coming back from a relaxer unless your next stop is Transition Highway or Big Chop City.

 

DON’T RELAX if you are frustrated, but haven’t quite sought out other resources to help deal with your particular hair challenges. You owe it to yourself on your hair journey to explore the many online communities of support that are available to you featuring women of all hair types who are all (ok, the majority) trying to help each other along the way. Maybe there is something you haven’t tried that is just waiting to be discovered. It might make all the difference. Besides, learning to take care of your natural hair will help you a great deal should you decide to relax again, when you’re going through long stretches and need to pamper your new growth.

DO RELAX YOUR HAIR if you have mostly tried everything and you’re okay with closing the chapter on this portion of your hair story, especially if you’ve been relaxed before and were successful with maintaining the health of your hair.

DO NOT RELAX your hair if the sight of a super relaxer makes you all tingly inside. The majority of us with afro-textured hair do not need a super relaxer – kinks are surprisingly delicate and our strands are usually fine and porous (which makes it easier for a strong relaxer to eat right through the hair). If you are still dealing with your hair and think that your hair is so tough that it requires a heavy-duty relaxer, you might need to spend some more time learning and appreciating your texture. Using a relaxer that is too strong is one of the reasons that people with relaxed hair experience breakage and scalp problems.

If you decide to relax, PLEASE do not forget two very important steps:

First, make sure you do a strand test, particularly if you have been natural for a while. You’d rather be safe than sorry and it’s likely that your hair has experienced some changes over time from being chemical-free, and even from aging.

Also, consider following the relaxer directions to the letter and not putting the relaxer on the scalp (it’s usually recommended that you start about an 1/8 of an inch away from the scalp). You know how to take care of your hair texture now, so you know that new growth is not the end of the world.

Happy Hair journey and may your tresses be blessed!

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  • thatonegirl

    I’ve been natural for 3 years and I’ve been wanting to relax my hair for a year but I know if I do my hair won’t be nearly as healthy but I won’t be able to do the styles that I like with natural hair. UGHH!!!!!! I’m so frustrated!!!!!! Anyone have any suggestions?

    • momo

      get a weave

  • I’ve been natural (or should I say unrelaxed) for five years. I debate whether to go back to the creamy crack all the time. I’m a big fan of big hair and love rocking my full curly fro, but sometimes I want a different more sleek look and pine for the ease of relaxed straight hair. When those feelings take hold I usually get a full head weave sewn in and rock that for a couple of months. Then back to naptural I go.

  • rentho

    I havent relaxed yet but i’m seriously thinking about it. i went to a professional “natural hairstylist” to get my hair straightened for my birthday, i am now about 90% heat damaged. I dont want to big chop again, i don’t know what to do at this pointe(protein treatments didnt work) 🙁

    • kierah

      I wouldn’t get it relaxed while it is still heat damaged. You might need to keep up the protein treatments for a while and use protective styles.

  • guest

    I have done the natural and relaxer on and off for years! People say I do not know what I want, but they do not understand that I like change! Embrace your hair at whatever texture you choose!

  • GeniOus

    This is super helpful. I have been natural for 7 years now and the transitioning journey boosted my self image and self esteem in ways that I cannot describe however, this article is very telling. Black women who have gone natural attribute a certain level of PRIDE to BEING natural. While that is all good and helpful to the transitioning journey … once you’ve worn your hair natural for a while … sometimes it could get a bit redundant. Don’t get me wrong, I love my hair but sometimes I have the natural blues.

  • kierah

    It’s only a big deal if you make it one. My good friend was relaxed, then natural, then relaxed, and now natural again. It’s hair. It grows either way if you take care of it.

  • IllyPhilly

    Why do I know women who think natural is everything else, but weave? Seriously they will perm and dye their hair away, but weave is the only thing that’s considered unnatural. I couldn’t wait for this topic to come up again to say that.

    • Exactly, just get a nice weave done as you ponder.

    • SheBe

      *hangs head in shame* I thought that for a while at first. I did. I didnt understand because I have very long (hits the top of my butt long) hair and its relaxed. Where I live there are few black women that wear their own hair. I was confused. I assumed that natural meant “yours”; Like you grew it from your scalp. People would always ask “Is that your real hair?”. So when the term natural was tossed around I thought thats what it meant. I know, gone and say it…”poor lil tink tink *smh*” LOL

      • IllyPhilly

        LMAO. It’s alright.

    • Amelle

      Well perming it is still your hair that you grew from your head thats why, hair extensions dont come from you. Thats why perming is considered “natural”, in the sense that the hair is yours unlike weave.