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Why do you flat iron the week before you relax?

December 2012 Relaxer Prep Wash Day

For the girl on a hair journey, who stretches her relaxers there is no finer day than relaxer day.  First, you finally get to say good-bye to the new growth that has been the thorn in your side for the last few weeks of your stretch. And secondly, you get to see (read: show off) all of the progress that you’ve made from your most recent relaxer stretch.  With that it’s no wonder that most of us, myself included, will typically blow dry, flat iron and what ever else it takes to get our hair on relaxer day.  Personally, I schedule my relaxers to land near major social events.

Knowing that there’s a high likelihood of heat usage on relaxer day and that I do my best to avoid heat tools, I’m often asked why I always flat iron my hair the week before my relaxer.  As a fine haired lady, that much manipulation and back to back heat usage is a bit worrisome.  Some might even say that I’m venturing into dangerous grounds by doing this.  But I promise I have good reason for using double heat two weeks in a row.

Why Do You Flat Iron Right Before Your Relaxer?

Well first let me say that I stretch my relaxers for 13 to 15 weeks at a time which means that I always have at least an inch of new growth once relaxer day rolls around.  Having that much new growth is always a struggle because it gets tangled before, during and after every wash day.
  • Flat Ironing stretches my new growth so that there isn’t a sharp contrast in textures at the line of demarcation.  A smooth transition at the line of demarcation means that manual breakage isn’t as big a fear during this week.
  • Flat Ironing (and roller setting) requires that I thoroughly detangle my hair from root to tip, which makes keeping my hair relatively tangle free until relaxer day a lot easier.  It also means that my shed hairs will have an easier time falling out of head instead of getting trapped and causing more tangles later on.

Having stretched and detangled roots on relaxer day, means that I won’t be slowed down by tangles as I am applying the relaxer to my roots.

  • Lastly, I can wear my hair down and I can give my edges a break.

I spend the last few weeks of each stretch brushing and gel-ing down my edges into smooth buns and ponytails.  A curly roller set or flat ironed hair is easier to wear out and it allows my edges to be free.

But let me say this, I have heeded the warnings of my fellow healthy hair journeyers and for my last two relaxer prep wash days, I have been letting two weeks pass before I relaxing my hair.  While I have done it back to back weeks without noticeable harm in the past, why push my luck.  It doesn’t hurt to wait an extra week and it probably is better for my hair in the long run.
For more on how my hair regimen changes when I’m preparing to relax my hair click here or watch this video:

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10 thoughts on “Why do you flat iron the week before you relax?

  1. I can totally see why you flat iron your hair the week before a relaxer. I would let my hair air dry and wear it in a bun all week prior to relaxing, but in February, my friend told me to never come back to her house with my hair matted like that! She had to pull my hair apart just to get the relaxer in the parts! I know some of my hair broke off from her having to handle it so rough. From now on, I will always roller set (or at least blow my hair out) the Wash Day before a relaxer! I did this for my June relaxer and it was soooooo much better and less hair was shed and broken.

    On another note … I am coming to RDU in a few weeks and wanted a professional rollerset, as I don't really go to the salon. Since I am visiting friends, the last thing I want to do is spend all day rolling my own head! I used to go to Studio 10, which was the $10 doobie place up by NCCU, but I see they closed (as particular about my hair as I am now, that's probably a good thing.) I found this salon in Durham and from the looks of their website, they do beautiful work! Of course, I will be taking my own combs because I won't let anything but a Hercules Sagemann (or other seamless comb) come near my hair from now on! I will let you know how it turns out!

  2. I went to Studio 1 (on main street) once because they were having a sale similar to that, but I was not please when I left. Unfortunately, I got the brand new hair stylist fresh out of beauty school and didn't realize it until I was already in the chair. When I was in Durham, I went to inFlight. They were great but pricey ($75 for relaxer and trim, ouch). The stylist I went to was Carolyn; she was great (and she wasn't even the best stylist. I think it was Nikki?). But I haven't been there in YEARS, so I don't know what it's like now and when I checked after first moving back to the area, they didn't have a website (one of the reasons I decided not to go back when I moved back here). If you end up going to Flash and Flare, I'd like to hear what you think of them in a blog post. I don't have imminent plans to head back into a salon, but it's nice to have options in my back pocket for when the day comes. I looked at their website and it looks like you'll be in good hands either way.

    And about the matting, that's exactly it. I had a similar experience with my very first attempt at a long stretch. I went for 16 weeks. I was airdrying the most of the way through and I made no real attempts to detangle beforehand. My first and biggest mistake on a hair journey. Never again.

  3. This makes so much sense Kim! I've never tried it before, I usually just detangle the week before and keep my styles as low maintenance as possible to avoid tangling. I think I'll try your method the next time I'm going to relax my hair x

  4. I avoid my new growth when applying my serum and I only flat iron at about 325 degree Fahrenheit. Therefore, my new growth does not get as straight as the relaxed portions of my hair. And even when it does, it doesn't last until my next relaxer. So, I have no trouble determining where my previously relaxed hair starts.

  5. I do this too and it works well. My hair reverts a little but it's still staight enough to be pretty hassle-free. Great post.

  6. I'm having trouble managing my new growth. I'm noticing breakage and was wondering was it ok for me to just blowout the roots of my hair until relaxer day, once I get about 7 weeks post. I normally stretch to 12 weeks.

  7. All I can say is to try it out. There are some ladies that can do that with no adverse effects, while it's too much tension/heat for others. I would suggest making sure that you are properly deep conditioning your hair at the roots when you blow them out.

    You may want to go through your new growth with the deep conditioner in a similar fashion to the way that you would relax it to make sure it is properly conditioned as you start blow drying at the end of your stretch. Good luck to you (and my apologies for taking so long to get back to you with a response).

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