For the past year or so I have been relaxing my hair every 12 weeks. When I started relaxing my hair many years ago I used to relax it every 6 weeks as recommended by most relaxer manufacturers. When I started looking after my hair properly, I then went from six weeks to eight, ten and now 12. For now I find that 12 weeks works well for me. If I go beyond 12 weeks I struggle with the new growth and trying to care for the 2 textures of hair on my head. The longest I have gone between relaxers is about 24 weeks. I managed this because I spent eight weeks with my hair braided.
Let me define ‘stretching relaxers’. This is when you extend the period between two relaxer sessions. You go longer than you normally would in between getting relaxers.
So what are the benefits of stretching relaxers? Stretching relaxers can thicken your hair. Hair tends to become thinner over time if you are overlapping relaxers on your hair. Overlapping relaxers happens when you relax previously relaxed hair. By stretching your relaxer, your new growth becomes more prominent and therefore easier to see when applying the relaxer crème.
To stretch relaxers successfully it is important to keep the new growth soft by making sure it is adequately moisturised. This will make the new growth easier to handle. It is also important to moisturise the ‘line of demarcation’ on the hair. The line of demarcation is where, on a strand of hair, the new growth meets previously relaxed hair. This is a weak spot on the hair shaft and prone to breakage. If you have relaxed hair and notice shorter hair sticking out from your hair, it is likely that the hair has broken along the line of demarcation. To prevent this ensure that the hair is adequately moisturised and also ensure you do regular protein treatments to strengthen the hair.
Stretching is not for everyone! Some women find that, in spite of their best efforts, their hair begins to break excessively after a certain number of weeks. You should not stretch relaxers just for the sake of stretching! Only do it if it will result in benefits for the hair.
You can opt to use protective styles to stretch relaxers. These include cornrows, weaves and braids. Remember that hair should be kept clean and moisturised whatever the hairstyle. If you neglect your hair while braided or in a weave you will encounter breakage when you remove the braids / weave. It then becomes counterproductive.
If you want to give stretching a try, ease into it. Add one extra week to your normal time e.g. if you relax every six weeks, aim for seven the next relaxer. You can add an extra week each time until you find your optimum stretch.
So, how long do you go between relaxers?