How to grow out your natural hair after damage done by relaxer

How to grow out your natural hair after damage done by relaxer

The natural hair movement is hardly a new one, but as Afro hair is increasingly visible in the media, more and more women are thinking about growing theirs out.

However, it’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do, particularly if your locks have been subjected to years of chemical straightening.

Even big stars have had their struggles – take Ciara, who recently posted on Instagram her joy about finally managing to grow her hair out after the damage done by relaxer when she was younger.

Ciara’s not the only celebrity who’s opened up about their natural hair journey.

In the past, singer Janelle Monae gave advice to women with hair like hers, telling Essence: “Embrace your hair. Natural hair has always been in, but its celebrated even more now.

"So let your natural hair shine. There’s so much beauty in our natural state.”

Janelle Monae (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Janelle Monae (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

So what happens when you use relaxer?

“The chemical process commonly known as relaxer will change your natural texture, breaking down the natural structure of the hair,” explains hairstylist Charlotte Mensah.

“You can experience damaged hair when relaxer goes wrong, including dry, crispy hair, broken ends and lots of frizz.

"In order to keep the hair healthy, you must revitalise the hair by replacing what has been taken away.”

In most cases, you’re dealing with some pretty serious chemicals which strip your hair of protein, which is key for strong and healthy locks.

This means growing it out can seem like a particularly daunting task.

Mensah does admit that “transitioning is a slow process, which can be frustrating and discouraging”. It’s because there’s a clear line between your damaged ends and the natural hair growing through.

“This is known as the line of demarcation,” explains Mensah. “It is extremely vulnerable to breakage, which is why it’s important to avoid over-manipulation and to keep hair moisturised.”

There are some things to keep in mind when considering growing out your hair – and for Mensah, you need to be aware of what texture your hair is.

She says: “Wavy hair is soft and very elastic, therefore the wave pattern of relaxed wavy hair will not break off” – however you need to be more careful if you have tightly coiled curls, because they are “more susceptible to breakage when growing out relaxer”.

Growing out your natural hair – particularly if it’s undergone years of chemical damage – might seem like a tough thing to do, but it’s by no means impossible.

These are Mensah’s tips for coming out the other side with the healthiest, best-looking hair possible.

1. Give yourself about 6-8 months – by then you should have enough growth to get excited.

2. The goal is to blend two different textures into one – try twist-out roller sets or rod sets – these stretched styles will help make the two different textures have a unified curl pattern.

3. Depending on the length you have to start with, make sure to get a good trim each month to get rid of split ends.

4. Deep condition your hair with a rich hydrating hair mask weekly.

5. Cut down on how often you use styling tools like blow dryers or straighteners. Try air drying all your styles instead.

6. Always de-tangle when your hair when is wet and slippery with conditioner, using a wide tooth comb or paddle brush. Start at the ends and work your way upwards.

- Press Association

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