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First, the bad news. Chemical hair relaxers are designed to be permanent. It’s not like when your curly-haired white friend uses her flat-iron to straighten her hair perfectly, only for it to bounce magically back into place when her hair gets wet.
Leah Legoai from L’Oreal’s Research & Innovation division explains. “Chemical relaxers transform the chemical makeup of our hair and break the disulfide bonds. If your hair has been treated and you are planning to go natural, you only have two options: the big chop or the slow grow.”
Deciding to go natural, as any woman who has tried it will tell you, is an incredibly liberating experience. So liberating, in fact, that many relaxed girls tend to leap in and shave their locks off. This is dramatic, but has certain advantages, too. You’ll be starting your regrowth with a ‘blank slate’, and with all chemically damaged and dried-out hairs cut off before healthy new growth begins. This will keep things looking uniformly neat, and help avoid breakage and split ends as you go through the long regrowth process. On the other hand, some girls are terrified by the thought of such a dramatic change, and prefer to get at least a few months of growth in before having the pre-damaged sections removed.
Many girls prefer to go for a slower transition period, growing the relaxed sections of hair out gradually. The obvious main benefit of this technique is that you get to keep your hard-earned length while your hair regrows. It does come with certain disadvantages, though. Because you’ll end up with hair of two very different textures and levels of health, caring for your locks becomes even more important during a transition phase. Here’s what to keep in mind to look after your brittle relaxed hair while it’s slowly being replaced.
Avoid heat. Heat styling further breaks down those already delicate protein bonds. It may be tempting to heat-style new growth as you go in order to make curly hair blend in better with the straightened sections, but this could end up making things even more uneven by affecting the curl patterns as they form, and encouraging breakage of the more vulnerable, damaged strands.
Use easy, low-manipulation styles. Just because the chemical damage is over, that doesn’t mean you can’t ruin your new look through mechanical damage. During this phase, choose styles that seamlessly blend your two textures, and that don’t involve too much brushing and pulling. Braids, twists, buns and pineapple-ponies are your friend.
Condition Deeply. Relaxed hair needs protein and moisture to maintain strength and prevent breakage. Try
a product range like Mizani’s Bond pHorce; Transition pHorce softens and protects your transitioning hair for greater manageability while Deep Treatment pHorce restores and repairs relaxed hair.
You’re in for a long journey, but we promise it will be worth it! Hair grows at an average of 1.25 cm per month and ethnic hair, with its intense curls, take far longer for this length to show. Be patient, be gentle, and your hair will reward you with health, beauty and length.
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