A number of us black girls have had relaxers put in our hair at some point in our lives. I remember putting a relaxer in my hair for the first time because I was tired of going through the pain of combing my kinky hair and I also wanted to join the club of girls with relaxed hair. The truth is, it gave me a break from having to deal with the time-consuming difficulty of taking care of all the curls on my head. But the relaxers came at a cost, in the long run, I lost my long hair.
Hair relaxers usually used to straighten kinky hair have lye or other related chemicals that tend to cause their hair shaft to become weak and break down. Excessive use of these relaxers can also trigger central centrifugal alopecia, which will eventually lead to permanent hair loss. Nigerian hairdressers also have hand in making relaxers dame our hair. I could remember sitting and waiting for an hour just so my hair will “done”. I didn’t know I was not supposed to have the relaxer in my hair for more than 30 minutes.
A lot of black women have decided to get back on the natural train and either get the big chop or transition their hair back natural. I am not ready for the big chop yet, but I have tried some things to try to repair my damaged hair. I’m not a professional hair stylist or anything, but from going through the long hair journey that I have, I thought I could share how I fixed my own damaged hair.
What does damaged hair look like?
In my experience, every damaged head of hair has some common characteristics.
- Dry and dull grey tinged hair with no sheen.
- Limp and lifeless hair that can’t hold a curl.
- Frizzy and unruly porous strands that soak up moisture.
- Weak and brittle hair that snaps easily under pressure.
- Split ends with a “Y” shape shows that strands are weak.
Tips to help you fix your damaged hair:
1. Don’t put heat in your hair
Try to stay away from heat, if you don’t your hair will start thinning and the strands to start getting shorter and shorter. Heat strips your hair of the natural oils that it contains, which is why it can lead to broken and dry hair.
2. Coconut oil
This oil is my hair food. It saved me from the shame of having to cover my hair every time. Massage your scalp with coconut oil every day. This keeps the scalp and hair shaft healthy and moisturized while increasing blood circulation to the follicle. The added moisture will stop hair from breaking and falling out by adding an additional layer of protection.
3. Protective hairstyles
Protective hairstyles will allow your hair to heal. I, for example, braided my hair and also wore my hair in a bun. This allows the end of your hair to be tucked in so they aren’t out and able to break more with brushes or from the sun.
4. Eat a balanced diet
Your diet needs to be balanced so your hair can get all the needed vitamins and minerals to get better. Eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids and also proteins. Omega 3 fatty acids are responsible for protein distribution and skin protection. This will add necessary proteins to your hair making it stronger and protecting the scalp and hair follicle from chemical damage.
5. Hair treatments at least once in two weeks
I invested my time and energy into treating my hair at least once in 2 weeks. I made a hair mask by mixing mayonnaise, coconut oil and one egg and apply this on my scalp for 30 minutes. These treatments allow important oils and strength to be put back into your hair that the chemicals of a relaxer can take away. Your hair becomes softer, healthier, and it helps with stunted growth.
Also, wear a satin or silk scarf over your hair when you sleep. This will keep your hair from further drying and also keep moisture from being absorbed by a cotton pillowcase and keep the natural oil coating on the hair shafts.
I hope these tips help you as they’ve helped my sisters.