The Stages: Relax, Maintain, Touch Up and Repeat!

 



J.E.Wise & B.E.K Royal


“I am not my hair, but my hair is me.”

My hair is relaxed. I have learned to monitor my hair very closely and have discovered that my hair operates in three stages.


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Stage 1


For me stage 1, which is the freshly relaxed hair stage, lasts about three days to one to two weeks. For people who have hair that is more manageable, you can go up to two weeks and maybe more. I can not stress enough the importance of monitoring and getting to know your own hair. Examine your hair. Touch it, really feel it, study it, and know it.

During the first stage moisture is retained. Thus, hair can be styled, combed and brushed with ease. If you choose to follow my technique, make sure you know how long stage 1 lasts for you. During stage 1, I will wash my hair on about day 7 but typically my rule is when my hair feels different, is dry, or appears to have breakage, I wash it to make it manageable or Comb-able without breakage. In other words whenever your hair feels different. It feels and looks dry, it’s prone to breakage, and even oily– wash your hair because it’s thirsty. During this stage, your first wash after freshly relaxed hair can be a shampoo-washing. When my hair no longer holds a style, I consider that it is no longer Comb-able. I am no longer in the first stage.


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Stage 2


During stage 2 my hair goes through a number of changes. Shedding and or breaking, lifelessness, and inability to hold a style–particularly a wrap style are some of the changes. When these changes occur, I know that I am in the maintenance stage. This stage can also be characterized by stringy hair. This occurs when the oil from your scalp slides down the hair shaft causing your hair to become oily and stringy.

In addition, during weeks six to eight and beyond this is when I experience new-growth. I always feel for new growth. This is how I know when new growth is occurring. You should also do the same. You feel for new growth by touching the root of your hair for a coily texture. During this stage, holding onto length is essential to the hair growing process. Again, you must monitor your hair and identify the changes that are specific to you to determine when you enter this stage and how long it is. We involuntarily break our hair when we Comb and brush our hair when it is dry. So, I Comb my hair when I’m in the shower with the water running on my hair whilst I have conditioner that renders my hair manageable in it. I Comb my hair in the direction that I will style, because when it is dry, I have no intention of combing my hair. I must add here that I don’t add rollers or heat to my hair unless I visit the salon. For me, the maintenance stage lasts anywhere from 12 to 24 weeks. Yes, you read correctly: 3 to 6 months!

During this time I do not Comb my hair and I don’t wash it in the traditional sense with shampoo every two weeks. No, instead, I Co-wash and water my hair often. I have found that Shampoo washing, no matter how many oils are included in the shampoo, has one purpose–to clean hair. This is good and bad. It is good because hair that is healthy and growing thrives when the hair and scalp are clean. This is bad because hair that is stripped of moisture is prone to breakage. And although a clean scalp is necessary for optimal hair growth, shampoo-washing dries hair and can prove to be counterproductive.

During the maintenance stage the hair is very fragile. It is during this time that many people choose to touch-up the hair. If you traditionally touch-up your hair at 4 to 6 or 8 weeks, you can still maintain this practice. I have found that during the maintenance phase, after the 4,6, or 8 week period when a touch-up is usually necessary, if I want to stay in this stage a great deal of protective maintenance is required. Protective maintenance, for me, is not necessarily the same as protective styles. Nevertheless, when you’re in this stage focus on retaining length by minimizing shedding and avoiding breakage. This can be achieved by conditioner-watering. I conditioner-water my hair almost everyday when it is in this stage. I will elaborate on conditioner-watering in another blog.


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Stage 3


Stage 3 is the touch-up stage. This is when you finally relax the new growth. I usually have one of my sister’s, who I trust, relax my hair. But I am not against going to the beauty salon and having my hair relaxed and styled by a professional. In fact, I prefer it. But sometimes my money is funny and I don’t have the luxury of spending over $100.00 to have my hair touched up professionally in spite of the fact that I believe the cost is well worth it. In fact, I used to drive 45 minutes from where I lived to have this specific stylist work his magic on my hair!

Your hair is all the more thirsty when it needs a touch-up. And, it is at its weakest. My suggestion is to prep your hair and scalp. I put in a leave-in conditioner in my hair a week before the touch-up. I even conditioner-water my hair two days before I have the touch-up. I know. I know that the very idea of “washing” the hair before a touch-up contradicts a major “don’t” when it comes to relaxing your hair. Just about every hair stylist and every relaxer label will tell you not to do it. I agree. But, one thing you will learn about conditioner-watering is this: when conditioner-watering your hair, you don’t manipulate your scalp, you simply put the conditioner on your hair and comb–all the while being very careful not to massage or scratch your scalp. In addition prepping leads to residual build up on the scalp. This is the only time you allow buildup on your scalp. This serves as a protective layer against burning when your hair is being touched up. Also, please note: if using a small tooth-comb during the touch-up process, this can lead to breakage only if your hair is not conditioned.

The Stages gives you an idea of how often, I wash my hair. In the next blog, we will discuss products.

Natural hair also goes through stages. Check out my blog on the stages of natural hair.

 

 © 2017 Wise & Royal, LLC.


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