Relaxers: How Soon is Too Soon?
“It’s too thick!” “It’s really hard!” “I don’t know what to do with it.” These are usually the last words uttered before a mother relaxes her daughter’s hair. I can attest to this as I have two daughters with two completely different hair types. In fact, they are polar opposites with one being very soft and thick and the other being coarse, thin, and dry. Both hair types present their individual challenges. The softer hair tangles almost the instant the comb passes through the ends and frizzes quite easily while the coarse dry hair constantly requires moisturizing and to be honest, has broken a few combs. For both these hair types, the ideal solution would be to implement a relaxer to make the styling process much easier. However, just how soon would be too soon?
Relaxers burn, sting, and cause discomfort to the scalp and hairline when applied incorrectly. Additionally, the scalp of a small child can suffer irreplaceable damage due to the lye and calcium hydroxide contained in relaxers that straightens the hair. This can lead to thinning temples and hairlines and can retard the hair growth. There is no such thing as a “kiddie” relaxer as is advertised. The only difference is the packaging. It is strongly advised not to use before age 12 or 13 because of the damaging effects. Calcium Hydroxide is the additive that reconstructs the hair texture in “kiddie” relaxers and not lye. However, lye can be made from it and is just as harmful.
As I stated earlier, I have to work with both extreme hair types and sometimes it’s difficult to manipulate the hair in the way that I want it. Isn’t it so much easier to just put on a little relaxer for faster and simpler styling? Just a quick application should do, right? Well, if you’re tempted to do so then maybe you should pump the breaks on it and wait a few more years until her hair and scalp has matured a bit more. It’s really in the best interest of her delicate hair growth as a child transitioning to an adult. Having our hair relaxed as little girls, was a rite of passage as we matured from girl to young adult. Why should it change? I’m not against relaxers, but I am against relaxers at a very young age. In the meantime, teach her to love her natural hair as it is and later on, if she decides she wants a relaxer, give her the same support. However, until then you probably need a little guidance on how to deal with her natural hair and how to limit frustration when dealing with it.
Here are a few ways to better deal with her natural hair.
Super Kinky Hair – Heat Straightening
If you can’t get away from the idea of straight hair then use heat instead of chemicals. Straightening combs and flat irons provide the silky, straight textures achieved with relaxers without the chemicals. It is safer but there are also some risks involved with heat styling. Be careful to pay attention to the texture of the hair and set the temperatures accordingly. Fine, soft hair should be styled at temperatures below 300 degrees to prevent singeing. Coarser textures can stand higher temperatures and will not straighten completely on low heat. Three hundred to 400 degrees on thick coarse hair will give you the desired effect. Never straighten the hair without first applying a heat protectant sealant. Implementing this product seals in the hair follicle and prevents moisture from reaching the strand, which will cause the natural curl pattern to return. Additionally it coats the hair and prevents it from being damaged by high temperatures.
Dry Hair – Moisturizers
If her hair sounds like a chip bag being crumbled as you comb it then you definitely need moisturizers. There are kiddie products on the market that are petroleum based and contain lots of oil. It is important to know that grease does not equate to moisture. Water moisturizes, not grease. However, in my experience, after using almost everything on the market on my own hair, I’ve found that Mane and Tail shampoo and conditioner are the best for me and my girls’ hair types. The shampoo is good at removing oily build-up but the conditioner is amazing! It moisturizes and defines the curls leaving the hair so soft and smooth. Best of all you won’t have to spend a small fortune either. Petroleum based products work best on wet hair as they seal in the moisture from post conditioning. Products like Organic Root Stimulator and Motions have excellent product lines for children that make styling much easier.
Protective Styling – Just Leave it Alone!
The best thing anyone can do as far as Black hair is concerned is to leave it alone. Why do so many of us have this problem? Black hair grows best and fastest when it’s not bothered with. If you don’t like the everyday styling then I would suggest having her hair braided once every 1-2 weeks. Not only will you get a much-deserved break, but also by doing this, you are allowing her hair to grow uninterrupted. Where Black hair is concerned, less is always more.