Relaxing your hair is a way to make curly or wavy hair straight. It involves chemically changing the shape of the hair by applying strong chemicals directly to the hair. This can cause some damage, although straightening your hair every day is also damaging, so relaxing your hair may leave it in better condition. If you color your hair, it is recommended that you do this a minimum of two to four weeks before relaxing your hair, although relaxing and coloring your hair at the same time can be successful if done the right way.
Choose a hair dye in the color you desire. A semi-permanent dye will be less damaging than a permanent dye and can be re-done to keep the color vibrant.
Purchase a hair relaxing kit. Look for one that contains ammonium thioglycolate. This is the least damaging chemical used for relaxing, as it is less corrosive on the hair follicles. If you can’t find ammonium thioglycolate, the next best is guanidine hydroxide, although this is quite a bit stronger and should be avoided if possible.
Apply the petroleum base cream all over your scalp with your fingers. Ensure you also cover your hairline, the nape of your neck and over and under your ears. This will protect your skin from the harsh chemicals.
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Mix the relaxing formula as described on the packaging. This can differ depending on the brand and chemical used, but usually involves mixing the contents of containers together to activate the chemical.
Comb the solution through your hair. A plastic comb will usually be included in the relaxing kit, as metal can prevent the chemical from working correctly. Pull the hair straight while combing, and ensure you cover it from root to tip.
Leave the relaxing chemical to work. This usually takes around five minutes, but will definitely be less than 10. Do not brush or comb the hair while the chemical is working -- that risks breakage.
Rinse out the relaxing chemical using warm water, and shampoo hair. This is to ensure the chemical is completely removed from the hair. For best results, use a repairing shampoo that does not contain sulfates.
Apply the neutralizer to the hair. This rehardens the hair and makes it less fragile.
Rinse the neutralizer out with warm water and towel dry hair.
Apply the conditioner from the relaxing kit to towel-dried hair. This will replenish nutrients in the hair as well as ensure it remains soft and glossy.
Wash out the conditioner as directed, and leave hair to dry. Towel-drying or natural drying is recommended, as using a hair dryer can damage hair further.
Mix the hair dye as instructed on the package.
Apply hair dye by carefully combing from the roots to the tip.
Wait for the shortest amount of time possible. This is usually between 20 and 30 minutes.
Wash out the hair dye until the water runs clear, and apply the included conditioner. Leave on for two to three minutes to nourish the hair.
Wash out the conditioner, and ensure the hair is product-free.
Wait for hair to dry naturally.
For best results, choose a hair dye formula that is not too strong. Look for dyes that do not contain bleach or ammonia, and avoid ultra-light blondes and peroxide-heavy brands
- "Milady's Standard Cosmetology: Haircutting, International Edition"; Milady; 2010
- "Regents/Prentice Hall Textbook of Cosmetology"; Mary Healy; 1993
Elle Blake has been writing since 2006. Her articles regularly appear in "All Women Stalk," "Parenting," "Education Plus" and "Glamour." She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in early childhood studies and primary education and a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in animal welfare and behavior, both from the University of Warwick. She is currently studying towards NCTJ Certificate in Magazine and Journalism.