1. Deep Conditioning is your bff. When I was a teenager, I got my first relaxer, and my stylist walked me through the steps of hair care at home. She told me to use conditioner (something I'd never used in my life at the time) and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Now, this tip proved revolutionary for me, but it wasn't what I needed to know. What I needed to know was that I should deep condition my hair at least once a week for about 15-45 minutes or longer with a moisturizing or strengthening conditioner. This would help repair the damage done to my hair by the chemicals and extend the life of my relaxer.
3. No-poo for a happier 'do. I can't tell you the frustrations I had with an overly oily scalp and drier hair. My hair sucked up the conditioner it received, but the benefits were often washed away twice a week with a harsh detergent like shampoo (which shall remain nameless) to rid myself of the oil. The truth of the matter was that it probably only made it worse and irritated my skin(another story). A sulfate-free shampoo or even co-washing would have been just the ticket to easing my skin, scalp, and hair issues.
4. I don't need to go every six-eight weeks. My first stylist experimented with the amount of time I could go between relaxers. I settled on 7 weeks and eventually 8 due to my budget, but I was often miserable by week 6. Tip number one would have made the last two weeks easier. My mother and sister both go every 10 weeks after realizing this money-saving truth.
5. If it burns, let it go. I used to burn every single time I got a relaxer until two of my new stylists began using base and a gentler relaxer on my sensitive scalp. I still singed a little bit, but it was better than it had been. It wasn't until I was almost halfway through my transition that I realized that I was allergic to the lye in the relaxer which (contrary to what excuses each stylist came up with) was why I burned or singed no matter how many precautions I took.
6. The stylist isn't always right. If you're like me, then your curiosity sometimes gets the better of you. You end up inquiring of the only hair guru you know (your stylist) about going natural. Being the capitalist that she is, she tells you that you wouldn't like it and that it will take forever to grow. She says anything to discourage you while ignoring the irony that she herself is a natural. Maybe that only happened to me, but my point is no one knows your hair like you do. Beauty school only teaches so much, and there are some things that were not covered in your stylist's studies like curly hair. I'm not knocking all stylists because there are some good ones out there, who have educated themselves further on what they didn't know. However, only you can hear your hair properly when it speaks. You may have to research a particular issue yourself if you're not satisfied with the answers you receive from your stylists. If they truly care about what's best for your hair, then they will support your decisions. You should never allow yourself to be bullied into a service that you don't want or need.
7. Moisture is your friend not your nemesis. I know this sounds crazy to those of you who wouldn't be caught dead in the rain or in the pool if you can help it. You give humidity the side-eye and anti-humidity spray makes you giddy with joy. I'm not talking about hosing down your roller set with water or anything like that. I'm talking about using a moisturizer/leave-in conditioner to keep your hair moisturized, so that you laugh in the face of humidity. A lot of setting lotions and foams contain alcohol and can be drying to your hair. Try to use a water based moisturizer first before adding an alcohol-free styling agent. Your hair will thank you and mine would have thanked me if I'd known this earlier.
8. Seal the deal. Okay, so I only learned about sealing in moisture during my natural journey, and I must say I feel robbed. If someone had told me to moisturize and seal my ends, splits ends would have probably never known my name. I also would have feared humidity less and enjoyed life more. Sealing in the moisture from tip number seven will keep those ends happy and the scissors away longer. Length retention...whaaaaat!
9. There are natural alternatives to grease. Growing up I used to hate getting my hair done for two reasons: it hurt (very tender-headed) and Sulfur-8. It smelled and I hated it. It made my hair feel gunky and I hated that too. My scalp never seemed to benefit either. I always had an itchy scalp growing up, and my mother always responded with grease. She nor I ever understood why it seemed to make things worse, but it did. The grease wasn't providing the moisture to my scalp that I needed, and it was clogging my pores. I rebelled totally when I went off to college because there was no one to put it in for me. My scalp was oily enough without it (too oily), but I didn't know there could be balance. Natural oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and almond oil are great skin moisturizers, but I didn't learn to use them on my scalp (the other skin) until well into my natural journey.
10. Silk is the bomb.com. Yes, I went there, but silk or satin scarves and pillowcases can go a long way in preventing that fresh blowout from looking dull the day after. I could never figure out why my glossy, freshly blown out and flat ironed strands would always look dull in the morning. The answer was my cotton pillowcase.
What do you wish someone had told you when you had a relaxer? Or what do you want to know now about your relaxed tresses? Leave a comment or drop me a line and I'll get back to you in a timely manner.