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With information overload nowadays in the comment sections on popular hair pages on Instagram, there’s no wonder why so many myths about hair get floated around. With relaxers, there’s even more confusion about what exactly they are — can relaxers “burn” your hair off? Does having a relaxer mean your hair is “unhealthy”? Will your natural curls be gone forever if you relax your hair?
NaturallyCurly spoke with Texas-based stylist Latara Porch to learn more about relaxers and some common myths about the process.
MYTH: #1 If you get one bad perm, it will damage your hair forever.
Porch gave an example that she heard from a client who said that the one bad perm she had gotten in 5th grade is the reason her hair is damaged at 29. But Porch argues that one bad relaxer can’t ruin your hair forever — that damage is due to poor hair care.
If your hair has suffered a bad relaxing treatment that has left your hair broken and damaged, there are ways to nurse it back to health. Moisturizing is key, Porch says, and going to a stylist post-bad relaxer will help you with professional advice and products that can help your hair in the long run.
MYTH #2: You have to relax your hair every four to six weeks or your hair will break.
“Your hair will not break off,” Porch said. (Waiting longer) will actually decrease the chance of over-processing.”
We often hear that relaxers have to be touched up every four to six weeks, when “new growth” — or natural hair —starts growing back from the root. Porch said relaxed clients should base how many times they get a relaxer on personal hair growth and thickness of their hair. Those with finer hair can go longer in between relaxers — but many people can go longer with the help of protective styling, such as braids or twists.
MYTH #3: You can relax your hair and get braids the next day.
Porch said she suggests relaxed clients wait at least 2 to 3 weeks after you relax your hair to get braids. After getting a relaxer, your hair is in a “fragile” state and needs to not be manipulated with tights styles like braids or twists. Putting tension on newly relaxed hair will cause those delicate stands to break off, resulting in damage at the root.
MYTH #4: When you see new growth, relax it immediately.
Depending on how fast your hair grows, you can see new growth as soon as 2-3 weeks after getting your relaxer. But that doesn’t mean you should immediately put relaxer on it to straighten it — that new growth is precious! Doing so could cause breakage to the roots and the virgin hair that’s growing out. The recommended length your new growth should be is 1 inch to 1 ½ inches before putting a relaxer on your hair again. In the meantime, the new growth should be kept as moisturized as possible until the next relaxing treatment.
MYTH #5: If you have relaxed hair, that means it isn’t healthy.
Guess what — you can have relaxed hair that’s healthy. You can even have natural hair that’s unhealthy. But it’s all about how you take care of your hair, whether it’s straight or curly. For relaxed hair, having healthy strands means keeping them moisturized with deep conditioning, drinking plenty of water, and utilizing leave-in conditioners, Porch said.
“I’ve seen healthy natural and relaxed hair. I’ve also seen damaged natural and relaxed hair,” Porch said. “It’s all about how you take care of your crown.”
To learn more about the basics of a relaxer, check out our guide, Hair Relaxers: What You Should Know.