Mistakes I made when relaxing

Ironically, my natural hair journey has inadvertently taught me so much about how I could (& should have!) been taking much, much better care of my relaxed hair in the nearly decade & a half that I wore it straight. I could spew a number of clichés at this point but I’ll spare you…

Enter 20/20 hindsight.

Let me start by saying that personally there was a huge & undeniable psychological aspect to straightening my hair that can’t go unaddressed, but that’s not what this post is about, you can read more about that here.


Freshly blow dried hair. I tried & day dreamed but it never really grew past this length in 14 years that I wore it relaxed.


My regime back then was to relax with Ladine in-salon every 2 months & I would always combine it with an in-salon treatment of sorts. With every second relaxer I would trim though it mostly ended up being more of a cut. At home I shampooed twice a week & always followed up with a deep treatment (I wasn’t much into conditioner per se).

Anyway, let me fess up to my relaxing sins…

  • Over the years I lessened the gap between relaxers from 3 months (when I was a student) down to 2 months (when I started working). I hated putting my hands into my hair & feeling my kinky, curly regrowth.
  • I often saw the relaxer being applied halfway up my hair shaft when my regrowth was just 2cm or less. I said nothing. In fact I secretly hoped they’d pull it through the entire length of my hair. I never asked, but I certainly hoped.
  • I would always keep the relaxer on as long as possible to get my hair straighter. I would lie & say “I’m fine” to the stylist when she came to check on me. I’d be pretending to merrily read a magazine while my scalp was on fire & I wanted to scream!
  • When I developed sores (from relaxer burn & then scratching) it didn’t stop me from getting my relaxer if it was due. Ouch indeed.
  •  Protective styling. When I 1st read these two words a few months back I thought it must be referring to the heat protective spray a salon sold me to use at home before I GHD or blowdry.
  • Co washing. That must mean taking a shower with a friend?
  • All the natural oils (coconut & whipped shea butter are my favs) that I lather my hair in now quite frankly hadn’t even remotely entered my mind & if someone had told me about it, I’d probably have cast it aside as an old wives tale of sorts.
  • Lye vs no lye relaxers  – in 14 years I still can’t tell you which of the two I used. Ditto for the relaxer strength (of course I was hoping for super!)
  • I invested (I used that word to make myself feel better about it I guess) mainly in professional/salon brands in terms of home care products but there are some really good retail brands that are much kinder on the pocket (& sometimes better formulated) – it’s all about reading & understanding the ingredients list.

Of course I’m content with where my hair journey is at now, but there are moments (hold onto your curls naturals) when I wish I could have a second chance with my relaxed hair & give it the TLC that it was crying (or quite literally breaking off) for…

Be kind to your hair!



About Wisaal

Reformed shopaholic. Absent sister. Unapologetic perfectionist. Trainee wife. Severe OCD. Cat person.
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9 Responses to Mistakes I made when relaxing

  1. nomahlubi says:

    Oh my..??!!! I did exactly like you wrote here, relaxed every 2 months if not less :), put the entire relaxer cream on my hair, and wait for minutes (even though scalp was burning) because I wanted to have smoooth hair as the end resultsl……. I’m also only now learning on how to take care of mine. Great article

  2. Tendayi says:

    I loved this post 🙂

  3. Thanks Tendayi! Nomahlubi – they say knowledge is power but its really what you do with it. I knew all along what I was doing was bad, bad, bad for my hair. I didn’t honestly care…

    Bonini – thanks for your tweet. Here’s why what I was doing is wrong:
    – you should be trying to stretch time between relaxers & not cut it down. It’s kinder on the hair. For example if I stuck to every 3rd month it would mean 4 relaxers pa. Since I moved to every 2 months, it meant 6 relaxers pa i.e. 50% more chemicals on my hair not to mention the cost!
    – only the 1/2 cm’s of regrowth should be relaxed – relaxing any more is sacrilegious. Relaxing is a permanent process, there’s NO need to re-relax hair… This I believe is where all my breakage came from
    – the relaxer should be kept on for as long at the manufacturer advises or you can even opt for less than that, never more. A burning scalp is a sign that your hair is suffering.
    – getting a relaxer while you have head sores (from your last relaxer nogal) is like going for a run on a broken ankle. There is no way it can end well.
    – protective styling gives your hair a break by “tucking it away”. This can be done via braids, wearing a bun or even a weave (all these methods must be done properly or can cause harm). Protective styling can also help to put more time between relaxers as in the 1st point above.
    – co washing is washing hair with conditioner as opposed to shampoo. It helps hair retain moisture.
    – natural oils are God’s gift to my hair & inexpensive (relatively) too. No matter how you wear your hair you can’t not have any in your regime.

    Shout if you still have any questions, I’m happy to chat 🙂


  4. Carmen says:

    Really enjoyed your article, Wisaal! You have such a cool sense of humour! 🙂

  5. Thank you Carmen. Hope those sweet girls of yours are well as ever. Confession: I love going through you albums of them, they’re sooo pretty, makes me broody! 🙂

  6. VeeBruin says:

    Oh, wow! I so relate to your hair journey. About 3 years ago, I was going to the salon religiously to get my hair relaxed, with weekly visits to wash-n-set. I ignored just how badly my hair was getting damaged with the chemicals, heat and rough-handling. I stopped that nonsense 😉 when I fell pregnant last year, and did a mini big-chop. I still have a long way to getting my hair to the way it should be, but I’m in love with my natural self.

  7. Hey VeeBruin, no matter how you wear it, I’m all for healthy hair – in the end thats what counts. Are you planning another BC or just going to grow from here? Keep me posted on your journey…

  8. VeeBruin says:

    I’m just going to let it grow it. I worry abit that the BC won’t suit me. I’ve practically had almost all of the damaged hair removed; will patiently wait till I get it back to the length it was previously (shoulder). I’m still learning how to best take care of my hair, and the type of regimen that will be best for me. But like I sad before, I love the freedom that my natural hair gives me, and am now just enjoying trying new, simple do’s with it

  9. Hey VeeBruin well from your profile pic/avi your hair looks great & I love the length *jealous*

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