This is part 2 of the relaxed hair guide. It is the second stage to healthy relaxed hair once part 1 is well understood and practised.
Happy reading! P.S. Here is part 1 of the guide 🙂
Get the (Moisture – Protein) Balance Right
Whether relaxed or natural, the balance of the 2 is very important to healthy hair care as it is the ultimate guard against breakage and good indication of healthy hair. The balance must be maintained, as too much/little of either will result in breakage. Understanding the balance has helped me tremendously.
Moisture is simply water. It provides elasticity (stretchiness) to hair and lack of it results in dry, brittle hair that snaps off.
The most effective way to maintain moisture level in hair is by staying hydrated. Choose water-based products and seal in the moisture with natural oil, NOT petroleum jelly.
Protein is responsible for the structure and strength, as hair is about ¾ keratin protein by composition. Recall from guide 1 that a strong chemical treatment like relaxer, alters the structure of hair by breaking stronger bonds, and forming weaker ones. This is why protein treatment is essential for relaxed tresses, it fortifies the protein lost to chemical treatments.
Protein is a bit complex, as it can contribute to elasticity or reduce it. This is where protein sensitivity comes in. If you are protein sensitive, chose light protein conditioners, but if you feel that you need a major protein treatment, ‘water down’ a hard protein treatment with moisturizers and humectants like honey. Hair will feel ‘hard’ after the treatment, which is expected; the protein is refortified. To avoid breakage, follow with a deep conditioner to soften hair.
Am I Balanced?
The best way to test for balance is a wet-strand test. Take a strand of wet hair and pull GENTLY (hair is weakest when wet). Note the result below:
- Balanced: hair stretches a little and returns to normal length
- Moisture overload: hair feels limb, mushy and continues to stretch till it breaks
- Protein overload: hair feels hard and rough, it breaks easily
A moisture overload can be corrected by a protein treatment session, but protein overload requires several (2-3) deep conditioning sessions. Audrey Davis, author of The Science of Black Hair, explained the protein-moisture balance concept in detail in her video. check it out.
Handle (your relaxed hair) with care
Handling your tresses with care minimizes shedding and reduces breakage. Note that I say minimize, not eliminate. You cannot eliminate shedding as it is a natural process, when hair has reached its terminal length, it detaches (sheds) from the scalp. A shed strand has a white ‘stuff’ (bulb) at the tip. Look for the bulb to distinguish between breakage and shedding.
The biggest culprit of excess manipulation is hands. Hands off your hair! The HIH (hands-in-hair) syndrome needs to be controlled. The excessive touching, pulling, twirling (insert verb here)ing needs to stop!
Also tone down the aggressive and excessive combing, hair can only handle so much 🙂
Braiding is a good low manipulation style, but hair goes through significant manipulation during the process. Avoid back-to-back braiding by giving hair (at least) a week of rest between styles. Box braids should be limited to 3 times a year and wait at least 4 weeks after a relaxer touch up before braiding.
Protective styles shield the ends from over manipulation. They are my go-to styles between relaxer stretches. I love them because it gives me a chance to experiment without resulting in breakage.
Be patience, focus on health not length
“You are what you eat.”
-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1826
Healthy hair starts from what goes into the body, hence your nutrition plays a vital role in hair health. Ensure to drink lots of water, it is an important source of moisture to hair. Look out for post on importance of nutritious diet and exercise on hair health.
As far as length goes…
I understand the difficulties and frustrations of starting a ‘hair journey’, using YouTubers with long hair as guides. I have tried (unsuccessfully) to imitate their regimen but the $$$ is a big turn off, I can’t spend that much on hair products when I have pending financial responsibilities.
If you are starting a healthy relaxed hair journey, choose natural products, such as natural oils and butters since they are the key ingredients in the $$$ products. Follow blogs with similar texture and length as your hair and avoid length- focused blogs.
Rome was not built in a day.
It will take time for your regimen to take effect, especially if you are using natural products. The first sign of improvement (1-2 months) is in hair texture. Hair will feel more moisturized (less dry) and breakage will reduce. Length retention is usually the last thing to notice, so be patient.
Book: The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy
Which of the above guide do you follow? Which is the easiest/most difficult to follow? Let me know your thoughts below.