What is Relaxed Hair: Understanding the Basics and Hair Care Tips

Relaxed hair refers to hair that has been chemically treated to alter its natural texture, usually to go from curly or kinky to straight. The process involves using a hair relaxer, a type of lotion or cream that breaks down the hair’s natural structure.

This method is sought after for its ability to make hair more manageable and to achieve sleek, straight styles that can last until new hair growth occurs at the roots.

Caring for relaxed hair is an essential step following the chemical treatment, as the process can leave hair more vulnerable to damage and breakage. To maintain hair health, it’s important to implement a regimen that includes gentle handling, proper hydration, and the use of protective styles to minimize stress on the hair.

Additionally, it’s beneficial to incorporate regular deep conditioning treatments and to minimize the use of heat-styling tools, which can further weaken relaxed hair. Let’s talk about what is relaxed hair.

Key Takeaways

  • Relaxed hair is chemically straightened, requiring specific care to maintain health
  • Regular deep conditioning and minimal heat styling help prevent damage
  • Protective styling is key in preserving the integrity of relaxed hair

Understanding Relaxed Hair

When someone wants to transform their curly or coily tresses to a sleeker, straighter look, they might opt for a relaxer. Let’s explore what relaxed hair actually means, the types of relaxers out there, and how the process turns those curls into a smoother style.

Defining Relaxed Hair

Relaxed hair refers to naturally curly or coily hair that’s been chemically treated to permanently straighten the strands. Unlike heat straightening which temporarily smoothens curls, relaxers change the hair’s texture on a more lasting basis. Those with relaxed hair will notice new growth retaining the natural texture, while the treated portions remain straight.

Types of Hair Relaxers

Relaxers fall largely into two categories: lye relaxers and no-lye relaxers. Lye relaxers contain sodium hydroxide, which efficiently straightens hair but can be harsh on the scalp. On the other hand, no-lye relaxers contain substances like calcium hydroxide or ammonium thioglycolate, which tend to be gentler but might require more frequent touch-ups.

  • Lye relaxer
    • Contains sodium hydroxide
    • Straightens effectively
    • Can be more irritating to the scalp
  • No-lye relaxer
    • Contains calcium hydroxide or ammonium thioglycolate
    • Milder on the scalp
    • May need more regular maintenance

The Relaxing Process

They start the relaxing process by sectioning the individual’s hair and applying the relaxer cream. The cream alters the hair’s structure, which is then rinsed out, and a neutralizing shampoo is used to halt the chemical process. Post-treatment, it’s crucial to deeply condition the hair to replenish moisture.

Note: Always follow the provided instructions when using relaxers to minimize potential damage, such as hair loss or breakage. You should also practice regular scalp care post-relaxing to support healthy hair growth and maintain overall hair health.

Caring for Relaxed Hair

We talked about what is relaxed hair. Now, let’s talk about maintenance. When dealing with relaxed hair, you should know it’s all about maintaining the right moisture balance and protecting the hair from potential damage. A rigorous yet gentle hair care regimen can help ensure that one’s locks remain healthy and strong.

Washing and Conditioning

  • Moisturizing Shampoo: People with relaxed hair should opt for a moisturizing shampoo that cleans without stripping hair of its natural oils. Washing once a week is usually enough to keep the hair clean without over-drying
  • Moisturizing and Deep Conditioning Treatment: Post-shampoo, applying a moisturizing conditioner helps detangle and soften the hair. Once a fortnight or monthly, depending on the hair’s need, a deep conditioning treatment is recommended to nourish and strengthen the hair

Moisturizing and Sealing

  • Leave-in Conditioner: To ensure the hair retains moisture after washing, use a leave-in conditioner. It can be a great help, providing an additional layer of moisture
  • Oil and Seal: After moisturizing, you should seal in that moisture with a light oil or hair serum. Oils like argan oil, coconut oil, or shea oil can prevent moisture loss and add a protective coating

Damage Prevention and Treatment

  • Protein Treatment: Since relaxers weaken hair, a regular protein treatment can help rebuild and strengthen the hair’s structure
  • Touch-Up Tactics: It’s important to minimize overlapping of relaxers on previously treated hair. Space touch-ups at least 8-10 weeks apart, and seek professional assistance to reduce the risk of breakage
  • Heat Protectant: When using heat styling tools, always apply a heat protectant to shield the hair from thermal damage
  • Scalp Massages: Regular scalp massages can promote blood circulation, supporting hair growth and the overall health of the scalp and hair

Styling and Maintenance

Proper styling and maintenance are crucial for the longevity and health of relaxed hair. They know that the right approaches can make all the difference between luscious locks and breakage nightmares. Read on for real-life, tried-and-true tips on keeping that straightened hair looking fabulous.

Safe Styling Practices

When it comes to styling relaxed hair, gentle is the way to go. Heat can be an enemy if you overdo it, so make sure to use low-temperature settings on hot tools.

When creating beautiful curls, it’s also safer to opt for heat-free methods like satin-covered rollers, Curlformers, or Flexi-rods. Wrapping the hair in silk or satin also helps to reduce friction and maintain moisture overnight.

Styling Tool Usage
Satin-covered rollers Use to create voluminous curls without heat
Curlformers Ideal for defining curls without any heat damage
Flexi-rods Flexible to create different sizes and shapes of curls

Regular Maintenance

Consistency is key when maintaining relaxed hair. So, develop a wash day schedule that doesn’t over-strip hair—maybe every 1 to 2 weeks.

Hair oil is also your ally in retaining moisture, so use it lovingly. In between washes, dry shampoo can be a lifesaver for keeping hair fresh.

They also found that regular trims are non-negotiable for keeping ends healthy and aiding in overall hair growth. And for those in love with their length, protective styles are perfect for tucking away their ends and reducing manipulation.

Addressing Common Concerns

Managing relaxed hair is critical, as improper care can lead to issues such as breakage, dryness, and scalp problems. Below, the common concerns are broken down to help those with relaxed hair tackle each challenge effectively.

Hair Breakage and Loss

They might find strands of hair in their brush or on the floor, which is often due to breakage and hair loss. These issues can arise when chemical treatments are too strong or are left on for too long, leading to weakened strands.

To prevent these issues, make sure to get regular trims to prevent split ends and minimize breakage. Incorporating protein treatments might also help to fortify the hair.

Dryness and Frizz

Relaxed hair is prone to becoming dry, which can lead to frizz. Moisture is a must, so look for deep conditioning treatments and hair masks that can replenish hydration.

It’s also wise to avoid harsh elements such as chlorine and to use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner.

Scalp Issues

Chemical treatments can sometimes irritate the scalp, leading to dandruff or other scalp issues.

To soothe the scalp, look for gentle, sulfate-free products. You should also ensure not to neglect the scalp during your routine hair care and opt for occasional scalp treatments to maintain scalp health.

Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Relaxed Hair

Maintaining healthy relaxed hair requires a blend of regular hair care and a well-rounded lifestyle.

Diet and Hair Health: Ensure your hair’s vitality by fueling your body with a balanced diet. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals support the hair shaft from the inside out.

For example, eat plenty of leafy greens, nuts, and fish, which are loaded with nutrients that your hair loves.

Consistent Hair Care: Stick to a hair care schedule that avoids harsh treatment. This means you should gently detangle your hair, take breaks between relaxer applications, and use minimal heat to preserve your natural curls’ structure and strength.

Protective Styling: Opt for protective styles like buns and braids during workouts, which not only keep hair out of the face but also shield the ends from potential damage.


  • Reduce Sweat Damage: After a gym session, make sure to rinse your hair to prevent salt buildup from sweat

Sleep Routines:

  • Silk or Satin Pillowcase: Always sleep on a smooth pillowcase. This helps minimize friction and prevent hair breakage

General Tips:

  • Hydration: Keep your hair moisturized with products like coconut oil to battle the drying effects of relaxers
  • Sun Protection: Too much sun can be tough on hair. So, make wearing hats or using hair products with UV protection a part of your routine
  • Regular Trims: Trim your hair regularly to keep ends neat. This also prevents split ends from traveling up the hair shaft
  • Gentle Handling: Touch your hair with care, especially when wet. Relaxed hair is more fragile and susceptible to damage