Natural to Relaxed: I Relaxed My Natural Hair After a Four Year Journey
Mini Sock Bun with Bangs 6 weeks post relaxer
So yeah…I did it. I mean I actually did it. I relaxed my hair after a four year natural hair journey. I went from kinky, coily, straight-from-the-motherland, 4c, natural hair to silky, no kink, no wave, all-the-way straight relaxed hair.
The experience was quite surreal. Don't get me wrong I truly enjoyed my natural hair experience. Check out my Why I Decided to Go Natural post. I learned all kinds of things about myself and my natural hair. As my hair grew longer, I got tired of twist sessions that lasted longer than an hour to prep for the next day. I really did not love my 80% shrinkage. If I jumped out the shower and decided to do nothing with my hair, it would shrink up to appear as if I had just had a Big Chop. And don't get me started on detangling. Just thinking about detangling my 4C hair makes me tired. It seemed like a never ending process.
I missed having straight hair. My natural hair never completely got straight unless I went to the Dominican Salon and got a blowout. Check out my Dominican Blowout post. They used so much heat that my hair could not afford to visit to often, despite the affordability. My own attempts to straighten my hair only lasted momentarily because of the humidity. So they usually resulted in a highly defined twist out or super cute updo. It seemed at though all my favorite hairstyles required stretched hair. The only style I could rock with shrunken hair was my wash-n-go. With a relaxer, I could simulate a natural texture with bantu knots or braid outs if I missed my texture.
So after some serious thought and the reading of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana Byrd & Lori Tharps and The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy, I decided I knew enough about my hair to relax it again. I felt I learned so much from being natural that I could carry some of that knowledge with me on my relaxed journey. This time I had a game plan. I devised a hair regimen (see below) and bought the appropriate products and tools.
Sew In with Outre Batik Brazilian Bundle Synthetic Hair 8 weeks post relaxer
Things I learned from being natural:
1. Care for my natural hair
Before going natural, I had never dealt with any hair that wasn't chemically straightened. The texture is completely different. Now that I know how to care for my natural hair, I will no longer be grabbing a jar of relaxer at soon as I spot an 1/8 of an inch of new growth. I now know how to handle and care for both textures carefully, which will result in minimizing breakage and maintaining length.
2. Style my hair without heat
When I was natural I rarely straightened my hair, because my hair plus the Mid-South humidity did not mix to well. My hair would begin to revert as soon as I stepped out the front door. This forced me to learn styles that did not require straightening. I was the queen of updos, twist outs and puffs. With that knowledge, I can now style my relaxed hair without using a flat iron, blowdryer, or curling wand.
3. Use the internet for knowledge
At the time I went natural, I didn't know anyone else with natural hair. I quickly learned the power of the internet for information on how to care for 'fro sprouting from my roots. I watched thousands of YouTube tutorials and pinned all kinds of natural hair how-tos on Pinterest. I read everything from forums to bloggers, and learned what to do and what to not do with my hair. Finding relaxed hair gurus has proven to be a little harder, but there are some out there. See my new regimen below that I have decided to implement and make this relaxed hair journey a healthy one.
5. Treat hair is like silk
Silk has to be handled and treated with care in order to retain its beauty and so does your hair. My hair is not as tough as it appears and I do not need to beat it into submission. My strands are fine, and if I tug, yank, or pull on it enough it will eventually break. I used to rock super-tight braids, buns and weaves, but after a little breakage, I have learned be nice to my hair. Tight is not always right.
My Relaxed Hair Regimen:
The last time I had a relaxer I never did anything to my hair but style it and relaxed it every 4 weeks!!!! I am amazed, that I was able to keep hair on my head. I now understand why my hair never grew past my nape. Now I know that hair, both natural and relaxed, needs to be cared for. So here is my Relaxed Hair Regimen.
Relaxer (every 10-12 weeks)
Designer's Touch for Sensitive Scalp (new growth ONLY!!!)
Sulfate-free Shampoo (weekly)
Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Shampoo
Clarifying Shampoo (monthly)
Alberto VO5 Herbal Escapes Kiwi Lime Squeeze Clarifying Shampoo
Light Protein Condition (Mid-week cowash)
Herbal Essence Long Term Relationship Conditioner
Heavy Protein (week after relaxer)
Deep conditioner (weekly, 15-20min w/ coconut oil & heat)
Herbal Essence Hello Hydration, Herbal Essence Totally Twisted, or Aussie 3-Minute Miracle
Tea Rinse (as needed, for shedding)
Green & Black Tea
Moisturizer (3x weekly)
Luster's S-Curl No Drip Curl Activator Moisturizer
Sealing Oil (3x weekly)
Heat Protectant (when necessary)
CHI Silk Infusion