Stretching relaxers

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?

Comments

  1. maame esi says

    im almost 8 wks post relaxer. soo excited cus this is my frst stretch.used to b every 4 wks. intend relaxing this saturday.

  2. Nondi says

    hey Tendayi!

    Since I started with my hair journey I find it so difficult to stay anything more than 4 weeks post relaxer. Even after relaxing it I find that my roots feel like they didn’t catch the relaxer enough. I use optimum relaxer. Don’t get me wrong, the relaxer is great but for some reason I can’t stay too long without relaxing again.

    I’m playing around with the idea of changing relaxers, but I’m afraid that will cause more harm than good. I’m at my wit’s end right now. The relaxer I’m actually thinking of switching to is the Organic Root Stimulator relaxer but after hearing more than one person say its not the best one for really coarse hair, I have some reservations about it.

    Finding your blog was the best thing that could have happened for my hair journey. It has not been a smooth journey but I’m gonna keep on keeping on! Thank you so much for being such a great inspiration to gals like me.

    P.S. I did my first roller set on my own tonight and it looks descent :-)

    • says

      Hi Nondi
      Thanks for reading my blog :) If you are applying the relaxer in the correct manner and it is not adequately relaxing your hair then it may not be the right relaxer for your hair. You may initially try a stronger strength eg if you are using ‘regular’ you may try using ‘super’ and see if that will work. Also apply the relaxer to the sections with the coarsest hair first and end with the parts with the finer / less coarse hair eg the hairline. I know finding the right relaxer can be frustrating but make sure it is not the technique of application that is not the problem before you switch otherwise you will have the same problem with the next relaxer.

      I use Organic Root Stimulator and I am happy with it. It works well for me. I have been texlaxing (deliberately underprocessing) my hair for more than a yr now so I do not have to worry about my hair being underprocessed.

      All the best with your hair journey. You jutst made me realise that I havent done a rollerset in months! Time to do one again!

  3. niecy says

    i been strecthing my hair since mid april lots of new growth i use to have short hair so now the back of my hair is completely natural i want to push for a year but i dont know if ill make it but i want to try and suggestions on how to strecth longer!!!

  4. Jazzmine says

    The worse thing I’ve done was perm my hair sooner than the regular 12 weeks I wait but not anymore 12 weeks maybe 13 is the longest I go between relaxers and doing this gives my hair time to repair itself from the perm ..I tried relaxing 6 weeks post and had A LOT of shedding sooooo every 3 months works for me

  5. Santay says

    I had no idea other women did this. lol. Normal I’m from Cameroon but also have been on a hair journey for the past 2 yrs. I usually stretched for 24 weeks. But this time, I’m at 12 weeks and I just can’t handle the new growth. I’m going to get a retouch soon for sure.

      • Santay says

        Well I do cornrows and alternate with weaves as often as possible so that I don’t touch my hair too much. I start doing that about 8 weeks after the last retouch. Initially, I decided I would do that because I was so frustrated that my hair wasn’t growing enough. I just didn’t want to see my disappointing hair again.Then I noticed the big difference: it was visibly longer. Even if it means my hair exposed only about 16 weeks a year it’s totally worth it!

  6. Rue007 says

    Hi Tendayi.

    Congratulations on your recent long stretch. You are an inspiration.

    What South African hair products or processes helped you with detangling and generally keeping the new growth manageable when you were now deep into your stretch.

    • says

      While removing braids I used Jo’M Hair Softener. It really worked well. I usually use Organic Root Stimulator Softening Hair and Scalp Lotion but I couldnt find it this time round. Once the braids were removed I washed and deep conditioned every 3rd day. The deep conditioning kept the hair soft. Used ORS Organic Root Stimulator Repleninishing Conditioner. I also moisturised twice a day just to keep the new growth soft. I didnt bother with much styling too. Mostly buns and head bands! Also no daily combing, just using fingers to neaten the hair.

  7. says

    I was away for work for 6weeksvall that time I had my hair in played cornrows. I used a protein cream an coconut oil mixed ith wter that entirebtine. by the tie i took the platsdownte length and health was impressive. This was early Dec 2012. I had a relaxer touch up and have been stretching it out with protective styles since then. I use the cream -oil/liquid everyday , deep condition. Trying to transition without the BC. Scared but will see what I’m able to achieve after 12 weeks. Thank you for this. Very inspiring.

  8. Kaseba says

    Hi T,

    I am currently stretching for the 1st time ever. I’m now 12 weeks post. I braided my hair about a month ago but didnt like how much breakage/ shedding I had when removing the braids so I’m now just doing cornrows and wearing a wig over them. I’d like to know, what can I do to my hair during a stretch without applying braids or weaves?

    I love this blog. Please keep it up

    • says

      Hi Kaseba

      When stretching I mostly just tie my hair in a bun. It can get boring but it helps because I dont have to comb or manipulate it much while styling. You could also twist your hair and style it like that. It usually buys you a few days to a week of no combing / manipulation.

  9. Jaelyn says

    Hi,

    I have been getting relaxers once a month and I usually get one early in the month and then in the next month it is usually in the last week. For example; In March I got my relaxer on the 11th and this month I got my relaxer on the 25th. But when I tell people this they say it’s really bad but they don’t know my hair. My hair is really thick and when it is not done right it gets super thick. So, I just am wondering if a relaxer once a month is good?

    • says

      From what you are saying it sounds like you are getting relaxers every 6 weeks or so. The time between 11 March and 25 April should be about 6 weeks. 6 weeks is the time that almost all the manufactureres advise that you go between relaxers. Some women push this to 8 weeks. I am now going for 12 weeks between relaxers (though right now I am at 6 months because I had braids in between). Of course everones hair is different. If you have hair that grows faster then you would probably relax sooner than someone whose hair grows slower. I would advise you wait 6 weeks or more between relaxers. 4 weeks would be too soon. The dangers of relaxing your hair too soon are that you are likely to overprocess the hair by overlapping the relaxer onto previously relaxed hair. This often leads to thinning hair and breakage.

      • nondi says

        Hi Ms T
        Following your advice has done wonders for my hair.
        I have been stretching my relaxer for the past 14 weeks and guess wat? I am having a breezy stretch so far. I’m aiming for 16 weeks but if i can go any longer, trust me, I WILL. But for now i will take it week by week.

        you are truly a blessing.

  10. says

    Hi, Tendayi.

    I was trying to transition by going without a relaxer for 1 year. I was excited about it at first, but I just couldn’t take the poofy-ness of my hair anymore. My natural hair texture is more wavy than curly and it puffed up like CRAZY in humidity. I couldnt take it any more. Plus I was using flat irons way more to try and get it straight, then it would go back frizzy a few hours later.

    I relaxed after a year because the transition seemed to be doing more bad than good. The first relaxer after the “transition stretch” didnt take. My roots where still wavy. My next one took at the roots, but the area of my hair where the relaxed hair ENDED and where the transitioned hair STARTED got sooo poofy! OMG its horrible. So the top portion of my head is straight, and the bottom of if is super poofy! I am scared to relax the bottom portion of my head because they say NEVER relax your ends. But I just don’t know what to do! I cant where sew-ins because the hair I keep out for my leave-out area wont blend with the weave because it poofs up when I walk outside!

    I need help from ANYONE who knows what I am going through and weither or not I should try relaxing my ends :(

    • says

      Hi Syrita

      It sounds to me like you need to do a corrective relaxer just to correct the parts that didnt relax well and to get all your hair one texture. I suggest you go to a good hairstylist who knows what they are doing if you feel you cannot do it yourself. Corrective relaxer entails puting relaxer on the new growth then later putting relaxer on the parts that werent relaxed proper;y just for a minute or two since these parts were previously relaxed. I wrote about it in detail in this post – http://africanhairblog.com/2012/09/04/how-to-do-a-corrective-relaxer/

  11. Diamond says

    Well I had stretch for 1 year and 10 months but I only have 2 more months before I relaxer my hair it had get super thick before I had stretch my hair away been thick but I have thick course hair

  12. JODI says

    I have texlaxed hair (hair that is deliberately underprocessed with a mild relaxer to leave 70% of the natural texture in the hair, referring to texlaxing application on virgin natural hair ONLY) and I stretch in between relaxer touch-ups every 7 months. It has worked wonders for my hair. Although my hair was natural and now is texlaxed my hair has retained all of its length and thickness like it had when it was natural and my hair is thriving and extremely healthy. When I was natural my hair was more prone to tangling and excessive single strand knots and i had to keep my hair stretched 90% of the time to minimize these knots. Although my hair retains 70% of its natural texture, it is easier to get straight hair styles, it tangles far less, my detangling sessions do not take 4 hours but 30 mins to 1 hour at the most, my hair only gets a few single strand knots, and my hair absorbs more moisture. When I had virgin hair I had to go to extremes to get moisture in my hair because my hair is naturally low porosity type hair. Now my hair is better able to receive moisture in the cuticle and because of this my hair stays moisturized longer. However; i moisturize my hair daily and deep condition it with protein treatments once to twice per week. I finger detangle my hair only, my hair ABSOLUTELY LOVES THIS, I do not use any heat products (flat irons, blow dryers, etc…) and i protective style and do low manipulation styles majority of the time. Because of this my hair is healthy, has much elasticity in it and is LONG. I REPEAT I HAVE LONG HAIR!!!!! SO TO ALL MY RELAXED AND TEXLAXED BLACK PEOPLE OUT THERE, STRETCHING LONGER IN BETWEEN RELAXERS IS EXTREMELY BENEFICIAL TO YOUR HAIR AND HELPS U TO RETAIN A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF LENGTH EACH YEAR.

  13. Tebogo says

    Hi,

    This is my first stretch and I’m 11 weeks into it. I only realised this now after counting the weeks on my calendar. So far its going well. I did conrows and now I’m doing bantu knot outs for the next 2 weeks then cornrows again. So I think I’ll relax in the next 3 weeks.

    My ‘plan’ is for them to underprocess the relaxer, so maybe it on for half the time they usually do (which isn’t long as I burn quickly). From there I will repeat the streching process.

    For now the cornrow and bantu knots are the only protective styles I do because my hair isn’t long enough for buns. My hair is collar leng. Are there any other ideas on protectives styles, other than weaves and wigs?

    • Diamond says

      Hey Tebogo I read your comment and I think that great tht you starting to stretch your relaxer since you just starting to streching I figure that you need to start by seeing if you can go without a relax for 3 months and if so make your way up to a year. Because I seeing a lot of growth in my hair myself
      I had Been without a relaxer for 2 years but I had decide to put a texturizer in my head last month and my hair growth do month since Oct 2011 I had cut my hair and then had let my texturizer growth out and by August 2012 my hair was shoulder lenght and I did put a relaxer in. But it didn’t take so good so I just grow that relaxer out and had get one this year just to see my growth and do some styling to my hair but as of this year I will doing the no heat again and going without a texturizer for a year or year and a half so if you can go without heat for a while that will be good

  14. millicent mokeira says

    Hi…. I have a great problem my hair was over processed after applying chemical on the already relaxed hair please help me on how to correct this and I really appreciate

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