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Touch Up Tips - The Week Before Your Relaxer!
Hi ladies! Here are a few tips to incorporate into your regimens the week before your touch ups. They have helped me eliminate scalp burns and minimize over/under processing.
1. Avoid Washing Your Hair for 4-6 Days
This allows your scalp to produce enough sebum, or natural lubricant, to protect it during the relaxer treatment.
In my experiences, anything less than 4 days is too short. If your scalp is too clean, it will not be lubricated enough to withstand the harsh irritants in the relaxer. Even if your stylist is meticulous about applying the relaxer only to the hair, some of the product will still touch the scalp. Without adequate lubrication, the scalp can become extremely irritated and/or burn.
If you wait more than 6 or 7 days, the oils will have attracted dirt, dust and become mixed with sweat. This will make the scalp itchy and irritated, causing you to scratch and create tears along the epidermis, or outermost layer, which can also contribute to serious scalp burns.
2. Apply Castor Oil to the Scalp Daily
This supplements the sebum that your scalp already produces, adding an additional barrier against the chemicals in the relaxer during the touch up process. In addition, oils will help soften and condition the new growth, making it easier to manage and relax.
I recommend Hollywood Beauty Castor Oil. It's cheap, easy to find and smells pretty good! Apply it to the scalp every other day the week before your relaxer.
3. Opt for Loose Styles
Try to avoid tight ponytails, braids or buns. These styles will place an enormous amount of stress on the hair and scalp, making the scalp sore or tender right before the touch up.
Furthermore, be careful when using bobby pins, butterfly clips and hair sticks. Just be certain they are not sticking or puncturing the scalp.
Instead, style the hair in a loose bun, twist or ponytail. A hat or headband is also an excellent option.
4. Avoid Rain and Sweat
If you get caught in rainstorm a few days before your appointment, I would highly recommend rescheduling.
Rain water can wash away sebum and introduce the scalp to pollutants, soil, bacteria and other radioactive materials the rain has washed out of the air.
I would just wash and try to reschedule for another day. If you anticipate rain the week before a relaxer, carry a rain bonnet in your purse to protect your hair and scalp.
If you are physically active, I would recommend avoiding rigorous exercise the week before a relaxer.
Sweat contains salt and waste that our body produces to detoxify itself. When sweat dries, it dehydrates the scalp, causing it to become itchy and irritated. Applying chemicals to a dehydrated scalp can....you guessed it, lead to scalp irritation during the relaxer treatment :)
5. Avoid Scratching
Our fingernails are incredibly sharp and carry a wide range of bacteria. Scratching the scalp causes lacerations on the epidermis. Bacteria can then travel deep into the dermis, the innermost layer of the scalp, and cause infection.
If you find your scalp becomes itchy during the week, apply coconut oil to the irritated sections. Coconut oil has a cooling quality and is therefore excellent for soothing inflamed areas.
In addition, avoid vigorous combing or brushing during the week of your appointment as it can also create tears along the scalp. Instead, use a wide tooth comb or soft boar bristle brush to style, avoiding the scalp as much as possible.
6. Try to Find the Best Relaxer for Your Hair
Each relaxer processes the hair differently. Therefore, to prevent variation in processing along the hair strand, try to find a relaxer you like and stick with it.
If you are having a hard time finding a relaxer, seek out someone on HT with a similar hair type/texture and ask for recommendations. They might be able to pinpoint the perfect relaxer for you!
7. Sleek and Straight
Make sure to roller set or blow dry your hair sleek and straight the week before your touch up. This will make it easier for your stylist to part and apply the relaxer.
If your hair is curly or hard to detangle, the touch up will take longer and be less comfortable for you.
If you prefer to wear your hair curly, saturate your entire hair with jojoba oil and let it penetrate the night before your touch up. This will not only condition the hair but will act as a lubricant, making the hair easier to part and section.
8. Color and Relaxers
To avoid double processing, wait at least 2-4 weeks to apply color.
If you want to color the same day, ask your stylist to apply a cellophane treatment after relaxing. This will stain the hair shaft and condition the hair. I recommend Sebastian's Colorshines - its easy to apply and available at most salons.
9. Relaxing Under the Influence
The week before your touchup, avoid gels, mousses or any products that contain alcohol. These products can dehydrate the scalp and "glue" the hair together, making it harder for your stylist to section the hair and apply the relaxer.
10. Pre-Relaxer Regimen
To prepare for a touch up, I use the following regimen. Clarifying helps the relaxer penetrate the new growth more efficiently and the protein treatment helps fortify the previously relaxed hair.