Healthy Hair Care

Self-Relaxing: Avoid Over-Processing and Scalp Burns

If you are considering the prospect of relaxing your hair yourself, I’m sure what scares you most about it is the fear of burning your scalp and/or overprocessing your hair.  Both of which are not good at all and should be avoided at all costs.  When I relax my hair I worry about these same things, especially the first few times that I relaxed my hair.  But every time I relax I make sure that I am following these steps.  Hopefully these tips can help those of you out there that are already self-relaxing or about to start doing so. 

1. Gather your materials and make sure everything you need is an arm’s length away.  Get your relaxer, applicator, timer, gloves, rat tail comb, clips, and a wash cloth.  And if you have a secondary location for rinsing the relaxer: neutralizing shampoo, conditioner, wide tooth comb, plastic cap, and towel.


2. Grease your scalp thoroughly.  It takes time but I go through my hair in the same fashion that I plan to relax and apply grease to my scalp. I use an applicator bottle as seen below to be precise and avoid getting any grease on my new growth.

What I use to Grease my Scalp.
Protect your Scalp before you start.

3. Apply conditioner, oil, grease, or Vaseline to your previously relaxed hair to avoid overprocessing those portions of your hair.

4. Be precise in applying the relaxer to your new growth only, but move quickly.  I part my hair into four quadrants and aim to complete each quadrant in about 2-3 minutes.

Be Precise, but quick.

5. Save your edges and nape for last, those areas tend to be the most susceptible to overprocessing (I usually apply relaxer to my edges after I have applied relaxer to all four quadrants, but right before I go back to smooth the new growth).

6. If you go back to smooth the new growth (I do), I would not advise combing through the new growth because you could scratch your scalp which could cause irritation/burning. I use my fingers.

7. Once your time has elapsed, Rinse thoroughly.  Even before you apply any other products (mid-step protein treatment or neutralizing shampoo) make sure that you have thoroughly rinsed ALL of the relaxer out of your hair.

8. Whether you do your protein treatment before you neutralize or vice versa, use a neutralizing shampoo with color alarms.  Neutralizing shampoos make sure that the relaxer process has been halted.  The color alarms in the shampoo let you know when you have adequately neutralized your hair.  I use Elasta QP Stop Action and when I need to continue neutralizing the suds are pink.  And once I have properly neutralized the suds are white.  This step usually requires 3 to 4 lathers.

Neutralize Properly.

While your main concern is overprocessing, don’t let that fear cause you to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction by underprocessing your hair.  Make sure all of your new growth is covered in relaxer.  Within each of the four quadrants (1) part your hair in small 1/2 inch sections to apply relaxer; (2) saturate both sides of the hair with relaxer; and (3) start with the most resistant part of your hair (for most that is the crown).  Begin at the crown and work your way down the edges with each quadrant.  Keep in mind that as long as you work within the confines of the time you’ve alloted everything should go well.

Lastly, follow the directions that come with the relaxer system.  They let you know how much time they recommend you spend applying the relaxer.  Everyone’s hair is different so some may require more or less time depending upon how straight you want your hair to be.  Since the time is such an individual assessment it does take some trial and error.

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4 thoughts on “Self-Relaxing: Avoid Over-Processing and Scalp Burns

  1. Thanks, Shika! Yeah, me too. It was the most cost effective neutralizing shampoo with color alarms that I could find easily. I used it with my first self-relaxer attempt and I've been using ever since. I love it.

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