HOW TO; RELAX NAIJA HAIR

One of the oldest most common  but also most abused hair practices in Naija is getting a relaxer to relax your roots. Ive seen women from all walks of life use and abuse relaxers! From the woman selling bread that asked her friend to apply it on her head while she waits hours for someone to buy her bread to the mother of a new born baby nursing her child, relaxer on her hair and hands, selling credit! Even those who go to so called salons fall victim of this abuse especially with stylists that refuse to read the instructions on relaxer packs and go ahead and relax their client's hair to the tips or tug and pull the hair with the smallest comb ever or fail to time the relaxing process until lumps of hair fall out.

Most of us fail to realize that the relaxer is a chemical that irreversibly straightens the curl pattern of our hair by loosening the protein bonds of our hair, its an intrusive procedure that literally changes our hair texture for good and therefore should be done with great care. Unfortunately, a lot of  Naija babes don't see the relaxer for what it truly is; I for one before I started my hair journey, viewed the relaxer as my Hair Messiah. To me, my hair was only presentable if it was freshly relaxed and all the sides of my hair sleek, once I noticed those darn new grown tightly curled roots, I'd not hesitate to get my hair relaxed ASAP! As a result, I got a relaxer every month! that's 12 relaxer treatments in a year when our hair grows an average of 1/2 an inch every month; thus I put my hair through all that stress for just 1/2 an inch of it to get straightened while I inevitably overlapped the already relaxed strands  thereby weakening them further! Ridiculous!!

Oh well, I know better now and of course I'm gonna share with you how to relax Naija hair, 'Naija Hair Can Grow Style'.
First off, you must prepare your hair at least a week prior to your relaxer day for the harshness of the chemical process. How? Well I'll start by pointing out that one of the dire effects your hair suffers from relaxing it is dryness. The relaxer strips your hair of moisture as it breaks down those bonds to make it straight, so if your are a good student of mine, you'd know where I'm heading with this. Well a week before I relax my hair I do a Deep Conditioning protein treatment either with a ready made deep conditioner like Organics Cholesterol Tea Tree Oil below, Should not cost more than N1000.
   OR  I mix my own deep conditioning protein treatment with the following; An egg, Some conditioner, some oils and some mayonnaise(which is actually eggs and oil). See picture below


 I actually prefer making my own treatment because I have the luxury to put more conditioner to soften my hair if I choose. I apply either mixture on my hair like I would a relaxer though focusing on my ends and then pop on a plastic bag over my head and then a shower cap over the bag; (don't like using a shower cap directly because of the residue that is left on it). The next step is to stay under my hooded dryer below for at least 30mins; Got this dryer recently from Game at The Palms, Lekki for N13,000
OR before I had a dryer, Id go to a salon near by, shower cap on head covered with a scarf and stay under their hooded dryer for at least 30mins and get my hair washed out OR if I cannot be bothered to go any where, sometimes Id just go about my business at home for at least an hour giving it more time to condition since there is no heat involved. After the time is up, give your hair a wash(without shampoo if you don't mind, because shampoos especially those with sulphates will strip off your hair of the oil and moisture we are trying to preserve. When all that goo is off from your hair, then please 'air dry' your hair because blow drying will dry out your hair and again we are trying to prevent that.

Fast forward to Relaxer Day, the next decision you have to make is, What type of relaxer to use. There are two main type of relaxers. Those with 'Lye' and those without 'Lye'. Forget brands, all relaxers are the same! They either have Lye or they don't. What is Lye? Have you bothered to find out? Well According to www.skinbiology.com, Lye Relaxers contain Sodium Hydroxide which is the strongest principal chemical with the most lasting results for straightening hair; No Lye relaxers on the other hand are not necessarily chemical free, they contain Guanidine Hydroxide, another chemical with a lower PH level, used to straighten hair. Most Relaxers in Boxes containing an activator that is mixed into the relaxer are No Lye relaxers like the one below









While Lye Relaxers are most times without a box because there is nothing to mix to activate them like the Herba Rich Relaxer Below;They are also cheaper by a few box and can be used more than once. This relaxer went for N800, while the One above is about N1500









I'm sure you are wondering where I am going with all this, well hold your horses, I am going somewhere. You see these two types of relaxers have different effects on our hair. I personally can testify to the fact that Lye relaxers do not straighten the hair as well as No Lye relaxers, However while they are said to be harsher on your scalp during the relaxing process, they do not leave the mineral deposits that No Lye relaxers leave causing the hair to be dry, dull and brittle. So in the long run, Lye relaxers are said to be better for your hair. I would therefore recommend a Lye relaxer for hair that is limp and in need of some body. To me all relaxers itch after some time so the whole argument that No Lye relaxers are not harsh on the scalp and thus do not cause itching does not fly with me. I would therefore not use a No Lye relaxer solely based on that argument. However,  if I say I'm straightening my hair, I want it Straight! So if you have healthy hair please use the No Lye relaxer for straighter results, but if you want to just loosen your curl pattern use a Lye relaxer or use a No Lye relaxer with a reduced PH level i.e a mild relaxer instead of a normal or super relaxer. The dryness and dullness complained about from using a No Lye relaxer is taken care of below.

When you have made the decision as to the relaxer you want to use, the next step is to prep your ends. When you relax your hair you need your ends to be moisturized so that as you part and work your way through your roots, the ends do not get all tangled. I moisturize my ends with Hair Conditioner on relaxer day. Then I use some oil or petroleum jelly across my nape and temple and over my ears; you know the drill!! Then I put on a timer, stick to the time on the instruction sheet! trust me every time I have overstayed, I have regretted because of the long strands of my hair that fall out due to over processing.  After the relaxer has been applied to ONLY THE NEW GROWN ROOTS see pic below;











 The next MOST IMPORTANT final step as you go to get your hair washed out is to COAT YOUR ENDS WITH OIL. Why? The good students once again will know that the oil which does not dissolve will prevent the relaxer that is being washed out from penetrating the hair shaft and further processing your already relaxed ends.Wash with hot water first to get the relaxer out and then make sure to wash thoroughly with neutralizing shampoo and then condition, rinse out with luke warm water and finally splash some cold water on your hair if you can bear to, so you seal up the cuticles and give it some shine :)

If you follow these simple steps at least every 8weeks( please don't be like I was, relax your hair when you actually have roots to relax ), you will see an improvement in the quality of your relaxed hair. Also, at least a  week after you relax your hair, repeat the deep conditioning protein treatment to strengthen the hair. I know very few Naija babes relax their hair themselves, so for those of you who don't you can write these tips down or print them out and insist your stylist does the right thing, its your hair, you should have paramount say, do not let some stylist who doesn't care mess it up!!
And for all of you out there trying to get away from relaxers or 'creamy crack' as I've heard its called these days, I am going to guide you through transitioning to natural hair. Please do not think transitioning is the answer to your hair troubles, Get healthy hair first and then we will take it from there okay!! Hang in here with me, drop a message, comment and Ill gladly respond!!

Stop By soon!
Dabs

15 comments:

  1. Just found your blog. I recently cut my hair and I'm trying to get it to grow, so I'll be joining you here.

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  2. Thanks for joining, so glad to have you and I hope this blog will be of great help to you as you begin your hair journey!!

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  3. lol @ creamy crack.i even heard there's *teamnatural and *teamrelaxed..lol...na wa for people and their issues sha.I'm just doing my own thing o.These tips are really good. Wish I knew them when i was still nurturing my relaxed hair though now I've already started the transitioning process and very soon the big chop will come.Just need tips on how to manage natural hair esp when it starts growing and also for receding hairlines. I think most naija girls need tips on that one too..

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  4. Yeah stels some people have taken this whole relaxer debate too far!lol!!the most important thing is healthy hair no matter what state it is, relaxed or not! Well I'm gonna cater to you au naturelle sisters the whole of next month!because I know transitioning to natural isn't easy at all! As for the receding hair line issue, I have already been asked about it and will address it very soon!thanx for the support girl and I love ur inspiring words on ur blog as well!!xxx

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  5. hi dabs!
    i am sooo loving this blog and following it straight up!
    my issue #1, dandruff? my scalp gets dry and itchy and begins to flake. its embarrassing. no matter the hair cream o hair oils, or pomade, its still flakes. this began in 2009-2010. because of this i get very reluctant to do weaves cos of the tight weaving for the tracks. and please, do u have any idea who told Nigerian hair dressers that its a crime to put hair oils in ur hair when u have to do weaves or braids? lol!
    my issue # 2: what do u think should be the maximum period before one can retouch their hair. cos my hair is soft (or used to be) so i usually wait for about 2months and a half that's 12 weeks before i retouch. also thank you for being a fellow woman that retouches he hair at home. my friends think i'm crazy and cheap when i tell them i do so.
    quick question: while i was in abuja, 2009, a friend, hausa, told me to use the same home made deep protein conditioner mix u gave above, however honey was also part of the home mix, i would like to ask is it still applicable even with honey?

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  6. Hey Jambubu, Thanks for your comment! Ill give you brief answers for your questions and explain further in my 'ASK THE EXPERT' Post coming up soon. First off, dandruff is caused by dry skin that becomes scaly and itchy, so the best advice id give you is to avoid anything that will dry your hair/scalp out; that includes shampoos with sulphates, mainly do regular conditioner washes(that's washing your hair with conditioner only, keep your scalp oiled not with pomades( stay well away from them, they have the bad type of oil called mineral oil, see my hair regimen post and incorporate that and respond to your hair often, quick tip, have a little spray bottle with water and olive oil, when your hair/scalp itches, just shake and spray on the area. Don't follow Naija stylists oh!! Its your hair, your rules!

    As for your relaxer strecth, 12 weeks is fine, just make sure you have enough new growth when ever you are getting a relaxer, at least 2 inches of new growth. Your friends need to get with the program, there is nothing cheap about giving your hair TLC rather than let it suffer at the hands of mean stylists oh!lol

    Your Friend is on point, I was gonna introduce variations to that treatment as my weekend regimen.I use honey sometimes as well because honey is a humectant and thus holds on to water molecules like hair moisturizers do so its a great moisturizer. Stay tuned for other variations to the treatment!!

    Thanks again for stopping by!

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  7. Hiya! So this is the story of my hair. Two years ago I cut my hair and started growing it again but I would use texturizers to soften it a bit. I've been doing that until last year december and I finally relaxed my hair last week saturday. The thing is, from last year or since I moved to africa in may 2011, my hair has been shedding like a bitch! I ignored it at first but from december 2011 I started salon treatments and I do those every two to three weeks. Thing is, I haven't really seen a difference. My hair looks super healthy but the shedding... I've use bigen once and I followed the instructions (november 2011). Anyways, I've decided to take matters into my own hands now, I bought myself a hooded dryer today from game and I bought essential oils and natural honey. Tomorrow, I'll start off with the avocado treatment and rince off with black tea. I hope it helps. What else do you suggest I do, I don't have any split ends as I get a trim regularly and the ends of my hair isn't thin or anything like that. I've also gotten centrum A to Zinc, my bf said his mum and sister uses it and its helped them, lol. I've been taking that for a month. What else do you suggest I do???

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  8. Invariably, I should moisturize my ends with Hair Conditioner BEFORE applying the relaxer then moisturize with olive oil AFTER applying relaxer (just b4 I wash). Please recommend a hair conditioner &lye relaxer for me.. I'ld also adopt the idea of strtchn my hair for a minimum of 12wks... Thnx Dabs! I'm a determined student! Lol

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  9. Hello Dabs. I love your blog and your hair is simply devine. Here's my story. I am a natural, Don't know what going on but hair is paper thin and itchy scalp. I've cut it all off (and yes, you can see scalp and bald spots) to start again. Any suggestions.

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    1. Hiya, start a hair regimen and incorporate tea tree oil in your regimen for the itchy scalp.

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  10. hello Dabs, I m Eunice from Ghana, i just stumbled upon your blog. I m in Love with it
    Been trying to grow healthy hair for a while now but will start and give up along the way.

    i have very sensitive hair line, and it thinning from braiding and tight pulling. any suggestion

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  11. Hi dabs, luv wat u r doing.Thumbs up. Hw do u cope wit drippin hair wen using egg for deep protein conditioning?

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    1. Hiya, I try to make sure I mix the eggs with a thick conditioner or henna into a paste and that controls the dripping, in any case I have a towel handy to wipe away any drips that are bound to happen as the steam is produced from your scalp.

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  12. hello dabs pls hw do I join the discussion in your blog as I find them very interesting Mercy from Lag

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  13. Hi, Dabs, great blog you have here, I have not read where u shampoo your hair first before any treatment, is it you apply the treatment on the dirty hair like that, then just rinse out or what? I need to understand. Thanks

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