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While there has been a mass movement of natural hair acceptance amongst Black women in the past two decades, some find that a relaxer is still the way to go. If you find the natural look doesn’t suit your tastes or your lifestyle, or simply want to commit to wearing your hair straight, then a “perm” may be worth considering. Relaxers are a mixed blessing; they offer a level of convenience and can help Black hair get as straight as possible, but they can also cause a lot of damage. Improper application of a hair relaxer can cause immediate hair loss. Be sure to take your time and follow the steps below if you choose to relax at home.

-Select the right formula. Many Black women use relaxers designed for children (“kiddie perms”), as they are much milder. “Super” relaxers are to be avoided, unless a stylist has recommended otherwise; they are incredibly strong and can be far too harsh on Black hair.

-Use a small amount of oil on your scalp and petroleum jelly just below your hairline, around your ears, forehead and nape of your neck.

-Mix the ingredients per the instructions on the box. Do NOT add or subtract anything to the mixture.

-Divide your hair in 4-6 sections. Pin down the sections you are not using and apply the mixture to one section at a time.

-Follow the box instructions when it comes to the amount of time you leave the relaxer on. Don’t assume that because your hair is course or has never been relaxed before that you need to leave it on longer. While Black hair comes in many different textures and types, most will break if exposed to such harsh chemicals for longer than needed.

-Wash hair with a neutralizing shampoo and follow-up with a rich conditioner designed for Black hair.

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