Relaxed or permed hair is very delicate because it has been chemically straightened. If you perm your hair too often, it can result in breakage or thinning hair. “Stretching” your relaxer is a wonderful way to maintain the length of your hair and to lessen the effects of over-processing from chemical usage. When you “stretch” your relaxer, it simply means that you’re lengthening the date until it’s time for your next relaxer. This is done in an effort to accumulate lots of new growth and thickness. Many ladies on healthy hair journeys utilize this technique to achieve excessive growth, if their hair has been relaxed.
You’d be surprised how easily breakage could occur simply by doing your daily hair care routine. Things that we are accustomed to doing such as combing or brushing hair can lead to breakage when your hair has been relaxed and you’re working with two different textures. When stretching your relaxer, you are dealing with your new growth, which is your natural hair coming out of your scalp. Your relaxed ends are the parts that have been exposed to the relaxer. The point at which the new growth and the relaxed hair meet could be called “the line of demarcation.” Staying mindful of how delicate the line of demarcation is and handling your hair with care can help you retain length.
Below are some tips to help you achieve a successful relaxer stretch:
1. Use a wide tooth comb!
Start combing hair from the ends and gently work your way up to the scalp to avoid breakage.
If you use a fine tooth comb to do this, you will do nothing except lose lots of your hair.
2. Use a good detangler!
A spray-on detangler is perfect for the line of demarcation, but also for your relaxed ends. It can be very difficult to comb hair while it’s wet. You don’t want to disturb the peaceful unity between your new growth and relaxed ends, so a good detangler will provide slip and allow you to easily comb through any stubborn knots. An example of a detangler is the Mane ‘n Tale Detangler.
3. Use sulfate-free shampoo!
Sulfates are detergents. Many cleaning products on the market contain them. Sulfates can be very harsh when used in hair products such as shampoo. These hair detergents provide a good “lather” when you shampoo your hair. Realistically speaking, the lather is actually breaking down your hair and making it weak. This occurs if you use sulfate shampoos too often. Sulfate shampoos are okay to use from time to time if you want a deep clean to remove buildup, but overuse will cause your hair to become excessively dry and frizzy. This is NOT a good thing for relaxed hair, or any hair for that matter.
4. Deep condition hair often!
Deep conditioning hair provides penetration of moisture deep into the hair strands to repair damaged hair and improve the appearance of ends. The moisture from a deep conditioner serves to improve all 3 layers of the hair strand (medulla, cortex, and cuticle).
5. Moisturize and seal!
This step is vital in preventing hair breakage. Hair should be moisturized and sealed daily. Step one: is to moisturize hair with a good “water based” moisturizer. It’s water based if the word “water” or “aqua” is the 1st ingredient in the list on the back label. Step two: is to immediately seal the moisture in your hair strands using a small amount of oil. With relaxed hair, you probably should stick to light carrier oils. Examples include: coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or sweet almond oil.
6. Trim ends only as needed!
Over-trimming hair can prevent you from achieving progress on your hair growth journey. From time to time, you should do an evaluation of your ends and trim the very tip as needed. Lots of women trim after a relaxer because that’s when they have more hair growth and can afford to lose a quarter of an inch of hair if necessary. However, if your ends are extremely thin, it is best to let them go and get a precision trim to even the length for healthier hair growth. If you don’t trim hair from time to time, the split ends will continue to split all the way up your hair shaft and cause tremendous breakage.
7. Utilize protective styles!
A protective style is any creative style that protects the ends of your hair by keeping them pinned up or tucked in away from weather or other types of environmental damage. Sometimes, even a knit top can catch strands of your hair and gradually break them off strand by strand. Imagine how much hair you would lose if you wore a top that did this to your hair all day! Examples of protective styles include: buns, updos, ponytails, french braids, fishtail ponytails, and the list goes on. Get creative!
8. Wrap hair up at night!
This is one of the most important steps for ladies who are on a hair growth journey. Always wrap your hair up at night, preferably with a silk or satin scarf! When you’re asleep at night, your hair breaks off by rubbing against your pillowcase throughout the night. A satin scarf prevents this from happening. If you don’t feel comfortable with a scarf, you can use a satin pillowcase.
9. Balance hair between protein and moisture!
For example, if you deep condition your hair with moisture based products one week, alternate the next week with protein based products. Protein provides strength to the hair. Too much protein in your hair regimen can lead to dryness and breakage. On the other hand, your hair can also break if it has too much moisture and isn’t strong enough.
10. **Take supplements
A hair, skin, and nail vitamin is generally sufficient for anyone who wants to encourage healthy hair growth. Some other supplements also provide benefits for the hair, such as: Fish oil, MSM, B-complex, *Biotin, Gelatin, vitamin E, vitamin C, and etc. *Beware that Biotin may cause terrible cystic acne breakouts in some people. **As with any supplement, please speak with your physician before starting any supplement regimen.
Following the tips above may help you to complete a successful relaxer stretch with minimum setbacks, if any at all. Be patient with your hair because it will thank you later!