Live Your Most Beautiful Life
If you relax your hair, it is important to give your hair time to grow out enough of your natural roots in order to give your scalp “time to breathe” from the chemical processing as well as allow your natural roots to grow in enough to prevent possible overlapping with your previous relaxer.
How long should you stretch your relaxer?
The amount of stretch time depends on the person and their hair. If you normally relax your hair every six weeks, consider stretching it to 8-10 weeks. If you normally relax your hair every 10 weeks, consider relaxing your hair every 12-14 weeks.
I highly encourage you to take it week by week when it comes to stretching. For example, if you relax your hair every 6 weeks, start to shift into a different method of taking care of your hair in order to be more sensitive to the increased tension on that line of demarcation between your natural roots and your relaxed ends. You may find that once you reach week 8, you have enough new growth (at least 1 inch) that makes the risk of overlapping pretty slim. However, if you are not dealing with breakage at this point, you may want to stretch even farther for another week or two in order to continue to allow your roots to grow out and give your scalp more breathing time. When it comes to stretching, you have to be sensitive to your hair and what it can and cannot handle. While some can stretch their relaxer to 20 weeks, some may find that to be impossible and that they suffer a lot of breakage at their line of demarcation no matter how well they take care of their hair for 20 weeks.
There is a lot of advice about how to care for your hair during a relaxer stretch, but don’t just automatically assume that one person’s regimen or advice will automatically work for you. Everyone has different lifestyles so the way one person may take care of their hair may differ from how you would have to take care of your hair. For example, there is a lot of advice suggesting that you should just co-wash during your stretch and ditch the shampoo. Well – there are two big prolems with that kind of advice: 1) Co-washing is a nice concept, but the shampoo plays a major role in prepping your hair for maximum absorption and benefit from the conditioner. As long as you aren’t using a harsh shampoo, shampooing and conditioning your hair won’t hurt your tresses during your stretch; and 2) If you exercise at least a few times a week, you really do need to cleanse your scalp, otherwise you will quickly accumulate build up on your scalp, which negatively affects your scalp’s health and growth overall.
During my stretch, I didn’t co-wash at all. I washed and conditioned my hair about 3 times a week.
Styling: I chose to either do a braid out look, air dry my hair, or blow out my hair (I blow dryed AND flat ironed my bangs). If I wanted to put curls at the end of my hair for a particular style, I would put satin-covered rollers at the end of my hair overnight and covered my hair with a satin scarf. In order to keep my roots pressed down and relatively smooth, I wet my full hairline and put a satin tie around my hair line or a satin scarf on my entire head to press down my hair overall.
Note: One thing that you definitely have to keep in mind is the fact that your hair is going to look like it is losing length as your roots grow in if you have tight curls, because the curls “draw up” your length as they grow out. You need to be comfortable with this fact as you move forward in your stretching process.
Protein Treatment: I did an Aphogee Protein Treatment once (you should only do a protein treatment once every six weeks).
Deep Conditioning Treatments: I deep conditioned my hair with a hair mask under a hooded dryer for 20-30 minutes every (or every other) time I washed/conditioned my hair.
Moisturizing: I used coconut oil as my primary moisturizer. I also used a water-based moisturizer (Nigelle’s Leave-In Cream Moisturizer), especially for my ends.
I occasionally massaged castor oil or coconut oil in my roots at night to give my scalp some nourishment and stimulation.
Vitamins: I took a Hair, Skin and Nails vitamin (you can get them at the Vitamin Shoppe, Walmart, CVS, and many other places). Make sure the vitamin you choose has at least Biotin and Vitamin B in the pill.
Trimming: I trimmed my hair on my own and made sure to deal with split ends when they appeared in my hair. This really helped with keeping my relaxed ends healthy during the stretching process. (I gave detailed information about how I learned to trim my hair and how I did it in the Café Belle Hair Journal).
I am getting my hair relaxed in my eleventh week of my stretch (this week, the last week of January 2011). It isn’t because I am dealing with any particular breakage. I normally relax my hair every 6-8 weeks, so I believe that stretching it to 11 weeks gave my scalp more breathing time than usual, and my roots have grown long enough for me not to worry about possible chemical overlapping.
For even more detailed information about my hair care, check out the Cafe Belle Hair Journal!
-Written by: Kris