Relaxed Hair Case Study

September 3, 2015

I was contacted by a fellow reader for hair advice. Let’s call her Amy. Amy provided a detailed hair story and i have decided to make it into a post as i believe it will help other readers. You can read the entire piece here. Below is my high level summary.

Summary

Amy decided to go natural because her relaxed hair was damaged, so she big chopped. At first she loved it, but soon realized that her 4c texture required more maintenance and didn’t give her the ‘desired look’ which made her self-conscious. Months later, she self-texlaxed  but didn’t attain the desired results. She corrective relaxed, and did a mini chop to improve the look. She was about 8 months post relaxer when she reached out. Her ends are thinning out and she is experiencing breakage on her hairline.

Overall, she wants thick, healthy hair regardless of the state (i.e: relaxed or natural) and was contemplating whether to go natural or continue relaxing.


Response

Reading the story,  3 key things stuck out to me:

1. Amy has 4c hair and she prefers straight hairstyles

Amy repeatedly hinted preference for straight hair throughout her story. Though she initially fell in love with her 4c natural hair, she became self-conscious of her texture as it made her “look like a boy”

I commend her for identifying her texture and for reaching out. There is so much politics surrounding black hair, but my stance is that you should do what works best for you. If you prefer straight hairstyles, then stay relaxed, as it is damaging to continually apply heat (i.e. blowout) to natural hair to achieve straight styles.

Relaxed Hair Case Study-healthynrelaxed-01

There is nothing wrong with preferring straight hairstyles to natural hair, but if you lose your confidence when your hair is not in a desired state, then there is clearly an issue. Your self-worth should never be attached to your hair.

4c hair is not meant to be straight. It coils tightly and shrinks to about 75% of its length. The only way to have ‘straight’ 4c hair is via a chemical treatment or a blowout. So Amy, I suggest staying relaxed.

Relaxed Hair Case Study-healthynrelaxed-02


2. Amy Prefers Low Maintenance (LM) Styles

Amy should steer clear of weaves, as she applies too much heat to ‘blend’ her leave out, which defeats the purpose of the style. Her front hair is ‘growing much slower’ because it is damaged from daily heat usage, which a ‘no-no’ for hair. Also, note that a weave does not have the same texture as your hair, so it will not ‘blend’ seamlessly.

If you prefer LM styles, then you are better off staying relaxed. Relaxed hair may require less maintenance than natural tresses, but it is not an excuse for negligence. You must have a hair regimen that you consistently and diligently follow. I suggest styles such as braids and weaves. I highly recommend Ghana braids, as it has tremendously helped me achieve thicker hair.

Ghana braids-Relaxed Hair Case Study-healthynrelaxed-03
Ghana Braids: October 2014

3. Amy wants thick, healthy hair and has no preference for the state (i.e: natural or relaxed)

Thick hair has its pros and cons. The most notable pro is that hair looks amazing when styled, as it produces luscious curls.

Relaxed Hair Case Study-healthynrelaxed-06
www.laurenmechelle.com

The biggest con is that it is quite overwhelming to maintain and style, as there is so much hair! The most difficult part of styling my hair is my new growth. I have to be patient and gentle, as they are so thick and strong. I have to comb them gently to prevent breakage. #thestruggleisreal

If your goal is voluminous hair, then you must pick a hair state and stick to it. Thick hair will take time as it needs to adjust to your regimen. Jumping back and forth between #naturalhair and #relaxedhair is not good. Hair needs stability to reach its full (no pun intended) potential.

natural hair -Relaxed Hair Case Study-healthynrelaxed-01

never, (EVER) go beyond 16 weeks without relaxer until you have a solid grasp of healthy hair care.

Make sure you have consistently followed your regimen for at least a year before attempting a longer stretch, or transitioning to natural hair. For transitioners, I suggest reading “The Science of Transitioning Hair” by Audrey Davis Sivasothy, the author of The Science of Black Hair.

Finally, I highly recommend a professional stylist for relaxer touch ups since they have the right products to relax and style your hair properly. If you self-relax and are never happy with the result or you experience relaxer burn, please see a stylist!


Final Note

So Amy, below are my 3 recommendations to you:

  1. Stay relaxed
  2. Never stretch your relaxer for more than 16 weeks
  3. Follow a hair regimen consistently

Do you relate with any of Amy’s hair woes? Comment below to share your story