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Dear Readers, we at Madame Noire have heard your requests.  We know that a lot of our hair articles are about natural hair, and a few of our relaxed hair readers were feeling neglected.  I feel you; therefore, I’m giving you an article on taking care of relaxed hair.  Not only banking from my own personal experiences of things not to do, but I also got tips from a few hair consultants.

Okay, first, let’s talk about the basics of our hair.  I learned in a health class once that while a strand of Caucasian hair averages about three breakage points per strand, our hair has twice that, averaging about six to nine.  Therefore, our hair has a higher likelihood of breakage, but by taking proper care of it, it doesn’t have to.  You can have long hair, it’s within your grasp, and here are a few easy ways for you  to attain it.

Oh, and just because we’ve honored your request for a relaxed hair article, we did not honor your request for an article that you don’t have to click through all the pages.  But I promise, if you just take the few seconds to click, you might find some information that will help shape your hair care regimen.

Avoid excessive heat

Have you ever seen a black girl with jagged hair so horrendous that it made you want schedule an appointment to get your ends clipped?  Well, I used to be that girl who inspired you to take better care of your hair.  I thought that by having pretty hair meant having heat styled hair.  So for years I did that, until (in the back of my head) I found out that while one side went down my back, the other barely passed my shoulder.

All of the excessive heat lead to excessive breakage and I had to cut my hair into a bob to get rid of all of the dead pieces.

How to fix it?

A good way to keep your hair with that straight look is to wrap it.  It’d last longer and you won’t have to put the heat on it everyday.  But when the time comes to put heat on it, try only using one source of heat on your hair when styling.  You want to flat iron it?  Then let it air dry (I usually wrap my wet hair, let it air dry a whole day, then the next day, flat iron it).  Twist outs aren’t just for natural hair girls.  When wet, twist, or braid your hair for a beautiful wavy look.  Or wear a high bun.  So sleek, so elegant, so not needing of heat.

Moisturize your hair

I’d never seen so many women envious of a man’s hair than I did when “Hey Ya!” first came out.  Andre 3000 sang about… honestly, I can hardly remember, because I became enthralled by how much body and sheen his hair had.  It was beautiful, but it did something crazy to some of the women that I talked to afterward.

They were tired of their weighed down hair.  Women were saying that to achieve his hair flowage they were limiting how much moisture they put on their hair so their hair could swing like his.  Then, when their hair began to break off, they were confused by what they were doing wrong. (“Really?  You were confused?”)

Moisturizing is everything to black women’s hair.  Without it, it will continue to break.  Which one would you rather have?  Long, healthy hair that might not blow completely in the wind, or short breaking hair that every time the wind blows you have to check if you’re bald or not?

How to fix it?

What people don’t realize is that movement comes with HEALTHY hair.  If you want tresses that blow in the wind, or jumps as you do, then moisturize it.  If you’re still concerned by the weight, switch to something like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, yeah, the kind you cook with ( Personally, that’s what I use).  But the important thing is to just moisturize it.

Don’t over process

Over processing your hair is like abuse to me;  there are multiple forms and it’s not just black and white.  There are many ways that women over process their hair.  Giving yourself relaxers too frequently, overlapping your relaxer with your already relaxed hair, coloring your hair too much, and using heat on your hair everyday.

One of the craziest things I’d seen was a women (who by the way, was complaining that her hair wasn’t growing) put relaxer on ALL of her hair.  Not just the new growth, but the previously relaxed hair.  The thing that upped the crazy factor was that the person who was helping her do this was a beauty school student…

How to fix it?

All of this is a symptom of doing too much.  STOP DOING TOO MUCH!  If you’re not too sure where to stop adding the relaxer?  Shell out the extra money for a professional to do it.  You want color?  Wait at least two weeks after a relaxer to do it, and also wait until your hair is healthy as well.  If you want out there color like some of your favorite celebrities, just remember this, they have a styling team that takes care of their hair, and a lot of times it’s a great lace front.  Don’t break your hair because you want a Fiery red or Blueraspberry color.

All of the above ways are a good way to keep your hair damaged.  If you like that look.

Getting your hair braided too tight (or too often)

I knew someone who was getting sew-ins very regularly, and the reason why was because she was going bald on the side of her hair because with the sew-ins, but she was embarrassed by her bald spots, so she kept on getting sew-ins.  It was a deadly game of cat and mouse for her hair.  She was experiencing traction alopecia. 

Traction Alopecia is caused when a person frequently gets their hair pulled with braiding, or styling. Or in my case, I once got it by how I tied my do rag on my hair line after I wrapped it.  Once I adjusted, my hair grew back.

How to fix it?

Give your hair a break from all the pulling and take a break from the weaves and braids every now and then.  If you’re embarrassed of a slight balding spot, better rock that lace front like those celebrities!  You think they care that you know they’re wearing a wig?  Then why should you?  After you give your hair a break, it’ll grow back (if the follicles aren’t too damaged, but we’re hoping for the best here).

Condition your hair

One of the hair consultants that I interviewed told me to ALWAYS use a conditioner and a leave-in conditioner.  Why?  Our hair is more vulnerable to breakage when it’s wet.  Shampoo can strip your hair of it’s natural oils and conditioners brings it back.  The conditioner and leave in conditioner helps to protect your hair as well for when you’re styling it. It’s a vital step to proper hair care, especially for relaxed hair, which is stripped and more prone to breakage on its own.

Which products are good?

The Infusium 23 conditioner and leave in conditioner was the name that was recommended to me for years.  Give a try. I like it.

Protect your hair at night

Have you ever been so exhausted at night after a long hard day of work (or shopping, we’re not mad at you) that you really didn’t want to wrap your hair at night?  We understand.  But also understand that by not doing so can cause your hair to break.  If you have a cotton pillowcase, cotton tends to snag at the hair, causing breakage while you sleep.

How to fix this?

Endure the two minutes of wrapping your hair and putting on a scarf, or buy yourself a silk pillow case.  The silk material protects your hair, and doesn’t snag and break it like the cotton ones do.  Don’t have money to buy a silk case?  then take your silk scarf and drape it over your pillow.

What are the tips and tricks you use to protect your hair?

Kendra Koger has been taking care of her relaxed hair for years.  Follow her @kkoger.

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