Throwback Thursday: My First Self-Relaxer(s).

I thought it would be fun to take you guys back to my first (second, third and fourth) attempt at relaxing my hair…at home…by myself.  When I first started my hair journey, I spent hours on Long Hair Care Forum reading the archives.  I was mesmerized by the beautifully luscious and long relaxed heads of hair on there.  My favorite threads to read were the challenge threads because there the members shared their regimen AND showed their growth over a period of time.  And I have to admit I was completely overwhelmed with the hair regimens.  But I was willing to learn and do more, because I had been stuck at neck length for years.  I took on things that were in my comfort zone but refused to do a lot of it.  And one of those things that I was adamant that I would NOT do was relax my own hair.  I just wasn’t willing to risk it all–my hair that is–especially when people are trained in school to do this.  But as the months weeks went by and I got deeper and deeper into my hair obsession journey the idea of relaxing my hair for myself seemed more and more appealing.

Why I was interested (Pros):

  • I could make sure that my scalp and previously relaxed hair was properly protected with grease.
  • I could stretch as long as I wanted and patiently detangle my hair avoiding breakage.
  • It is significantly cheaper.
  • I’d have total control! lol.

Why I was afraid (Cons):

  • burning my scalp/chemical burns.
  • over processing my hair.
  • under processing my hair.
  • hair loss.
  • breakage.

Some how with my scary list of Cons outweighing my Pros list, I ultimately decided to give it a try.  I researched online for weeks.  I feel like I read/watched every person who had relaxed their hair themselves on Long Hair Care Forum, youtube, google, blogs…everywhere.  Ultimately it took me four relaxers (almost 7 months) to get it right.  Below you’ll find the details (and pictures) showcasing my early attempts at self-relaxing.

My First Self-Relaxer: October 2009

I parted hair into 4 sections. Started at the back applying the relaxer to the crown first. Then I finished the front two sections starting with the crown again.  After 18 minutes I rinsed the back sections. Then I rinsed the front sections at the 21 minute mark.  Unfortunately because it took me longer than expected to apply the relaxer to the back sections the front half of my head only had relaxer on it for 10 minutes .:sadface:.  Even though was under processed, I successfully completed my first self-relaxer without damage and was left with straighter hair.  I was very happy with my results.  To finish it all off, I blow dried and flat ironed.  I used my Motions leave-in conditioner and Nexxus Heat Protexx.

My Second Self-Relaxer: December 2009

I don’t remember what I did wrong here, but I do know that it was very under processed.  I thought I could deal with under processed roots, but after a few weeks I knew that I’d be doing a corrective once I hit 6 weeks post relaxer.

My Third Self-Relaxer (and Corrective after 6 weeks): February 2010

I did my corrective (and a happy dance) because my hair came out perfectly.  I was so ecstatic with the results that I decided I would attempt my first 16 week stretch.

May 2010 – My Fourth Self-Relaxer (after my first 16 week stretch).

I’m finally starting to get the hang of it and I’m excited about my decision to relax my own hair.  It took work (and time — over 6 months), but I finally found my sweet spot.

Self-relaxers: How long was it before you felt comfortable self-relaxing?

12 Comments


  1. Self relaxing..no way for now cos I can barely see my back so I know i'd bungle it. Laughed all through while reading your story. The highs and lows of a hair journey.


  2. That was fun Reading!
    I am the oposite. I have NEVER been to a salong to relax my hair. And funny enough of more or less the same reasons you list above for reason not to do it at home:) . I would be afraid it would come out over or under processed.
    People here dont relax their hair. So there are very very few salongs here that relax and they dont have enough experience for me to trust that they have routins, and expecially not with my hair as I am of mixed race. The price it would cost here, maybe 200 dollars, is so not Worth it. It has never gone wrong. ever.


  3. I feel you, Jan. That back section is really difficult to get at. I've tried a set of strategically placed mirrors, using my fingers as a guide…everything I could think of to make it easier to be precise with the back sections. It's tough, lol. Thanks for commenting!


  4. Lisa, you make a good point about salons. Inconsistency at salons and moving a lot were part of why I decided to learn how to do my hair myself. And when I first moved to Raleigh, I couldn't find a salon that I felt comfortable going to get my hair done at. So I get it. But at $200 a relaxer, I would have been doing it myself the entire time like you. That's a lot of money, sheesh!


  5. I did a total of 2 self relaxers and then I threw the towel in! I was on my way to a chemical burn the second time around when I realized I should prolly leave it to someone who can see my entire head lol Kudos to you and anyone else who is able to do it with no problem though!


  6. Kudos to you for trying. Self-Relaxing is really tough so I think in a lot cases it's best left to the professionals. Especially when you've got someone you can trust to do it for you. Thanks for commenting, Bee Starks!


  7. I can not wait to write a post like this. I know all the struggling I've been through with my hair will be funny one day. Thanks for posting this it's motivational. makes me want to keep trying


  8. hey Kim, I recently did a touch up and one quadrant of my hair was underprocessed, do you have any tips on doing Corrective relaxers? How long should I wait to get one? What should I do in the meantime while I'm waiting?


  9. I did my corrective just like I would a regular touch up. I just waited six weeks before doing it and then applied the relaxer to the under processed sections first (for me that was the front half of my head). In the meantime, just continue caring for your hair as you would when stretching your relaxer. If you are worried about doing it yourself, enlist the help of someone who has done it before (preferably a professional stylist). Good luck, Harlem!


  10. In 1st attempt I used mirrors and it went do bad… But the next time I did the half and half method and in the back, I just like to feel and smooth my newgrowth with my hands. It works every time.


  11. Yeah, finding what works is key. It sounds like the half and half makes it a lot easier. Happy Hair Growing!

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