Caring For Straightened Hair

Your straightened hair is much more delicate than your pretreated strands. To ensure your tresses remain healthy, you must do everything possible to shield them from harm. This means gentle treatment, vigilant conditioning, and perhaps giving up some of the things you used to do such as using straightening irons, backcombing, or regular use of curling irons. Careful handling You probably already know that rough treatment damages your hair. You probably also know what rough treatment is: brushing wet hair, tight roller sets, overly vigorous shampooing, hair clips that snare strands, and many more methods of styling. If you're new to this hair-coddling business, however, keep in mind that relaxed tresses are especially vulnerable to all kinds of stress, be it mechamcal or thermal.

A good rule of thumb: If you have to ask yourself whether an activity is hard on hair, it probably is. Avoid harsh styling and leave your hair as natural as possible whenever you can. Shampoos and conditioners for relaxed hair If your hair is relaxed, you probably know first-hand the changes that have occurred in its texture, the way it feels in your hand, how it responds to styling products and so on. lt's probably drier, less vibrant, more brittle, and much more easily prone to damage. For this reason, choose products that are labeled "for chemically treated hair" - or go a step farther and find shampoos and conditioners formulated specifically for relaxed tresses.

These low-detergent, high-emollient products won't rough up your delicate cuticle layer nor will they strip your hair of important natural oils. What they will do is infuse parched hair with moisture and create a protective barrier to help fragile strands withstand styling stress. The right styling products If you were using moisture-filled styling products before your relaxing treatment, keep on using them. In fact, you may even want to kick the conditioning up a notch and seek out products designed solely for chemically treated hair. Don't go overboard though: Use too much conditioning oil, pomade, or styling wax and your hair will get grimy, forcing you to the shower for more frequent shampoos. Styling products to avoid? Go easy on dehydrating products such as sculpting lotion, gel, or alcohol­based hairsprays.

If your hair is in good shape prior to relaxing, but begins breaking heavily after the procedure, there's a good chance that your strands weren' t properly neutralized. Heat styling The less you do to your relaxed hair, the healthier it will be. This means that if you opt for a wash-and-wear look, your hair will be stronger and suffer from less breakage than if you blow-dry or use a straightening iron, a curling iron, or hot rollers. Occasional thermal styling is fine, but if you have to use heat several times a week, ask yourself this: Could it be that you're not used to seeing yourself with relaxed waves? Or do you truly believe your hair looks unpresentable if it's not blow-dried to a stick-straight state? If it's the first, try wearing your hair in its post­relaxed waves and see if the look grows on you. If it doesn't, ask your stylist for a good cut that works so well with your relaxed waves that you no longer think about forcing it straight.

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