Whether you do your own relaxer treatments at home or go to a salon, the number one rule is that you don't wash your hair or scalp before a relaxer. Following this rule helps prevent burning, pain, hair loss and hair damage.
Your hair and scalp produce natural oils that help protect the skin and hair from the harmful chemicals of a relaxer. If you wash your hair too soon before a relaxer it opens the pores of the scalp and removes the natural protective oils which can lead to burning of the scalp and your hair. Anyone who has felt this burning sensation and the pain every time they brush their hair for days afterward, or who has lost clumps of hair due to the relaxer burning it up, will never wash their hair before a relaxer again.
Many people wash their hair daily and assume that when they are told not to wash before a relaxer that it means to just skip that morning's shampoo. This is definitely not long enough to build up the natural oils that you need to have on your hair and scalp before a relaxer. Recommendations vary, but the general advice is to avoid shampooing for 3 to 4 days before a relaxer. If you have a problem with having unwashed hair for 4 days, opt for a ponytail, head scarf or hat.
Besides not washing your hair, there are other things you shouldn't do before a relaxer to avoid irritation and pain. These include: vigorously brushing or combing your hair, scratching or manipulating your scalp, trying new hairstyles that may pull the scalp, swimming in chlorinated water and coloring your hair.
There are many different types of relaxers, in varying strengths, but all of them contain dangerous chemicals, which will permanently change the structure of your hair. Anything that changes the basic chemical composition of your hair has the propensity to also damage it; take whatever precautions that you can to prevent the damage and hair loss that can occur. Don't ignore the application tips which advise a strand test, as well as an allergic reaction test 24 hours before applying the relaxer.
After a Relaxer
During the relaxer process your hair will be washed with a neutralizing shampoo, and then styled. Some people say you can wash your hair with your regular shampoo as soon as the next day, others advise waiting at least 3 days for your scalp to replenish its natural oils and to allow the hair to recover. Consider shampoos and conditioners made for relaxed hair, because they will nourish and help replenish your hair, as well as help to keep the hair straight and smooth.