Your beauty regiment damaged your hair. Yesterday your locks were beautiful, healthy, and thriving, but today the strands look frazzled, fried, and weak. Instead of showing off the latest hairstyles, you’re hiding at home, nursing the scabs and dried blood on your scalp. Even worse, you’re losing your hair…
Follow these 8 steps to move on from chemical hair damage and regain your gorgeous locks:
1. Don’t panic
Panicking will get you nowhere. Panic leads to stress, and stress leads to hair loss. Try some meditation exercises to calm down, and then finish reading this list.
2. Be gentle
Afro hair is the weakest hair type so always handle it with care. After hair damage you’ll need to baby your hair even more. Give your hair and scalp a break from new styles or routines. Do the bare minimum. Make sure your hair is presentable, but don’t go overboard.
3. Soothe the pain
Spritz cool mineral water on your scalp and hair to neutralise the strong chemical acidity. Wrap ice in a towel and rest it on your head to ease the pain. If your hair still burns, skip to number 5 on this list.
4. Leave scabs alone
Your scalp may be bleeding or releasing pus. These fluids might form scabs on your head. DO NOT pick at the scabs or the hair stuck to them. The scabs will fall off when they have healed the skin underneath, so leave them to do their job. Removing scabs before the skin heals may cause scars.
5. Use neutralisers
Chemical burns are more serious than fire burns, so don’t take them for granted. If your scalp won’t stop hurting, use the neutralising shampoo supplied with the relaxer kit. Leave the neutraliser on for as long as possible – ideally more than 15mins – so it has time to stop the relaxer. A normal shampoo won’t work, so don’t try and cut corners! If the pain continues beyond this point, seek medical assistance at the doctor/hospital.
6. Are relaxers for you?
Some people and relaxers just don’t mix! No matter what these people do, their sensitive skin can’t handle the chemicals. They have three options: go natural, use gentler hair chemicals e.g. texturisers or texlaxers, or change their hair care routine by leaving the relaxer on for less time, relaxing less often, etc.
7. Stick with your normal routine
Don’t relax again until there’s new growth. Relax too soon and you risk more chemical burns if your wounds haven’t healed yet. Don’t move the next chemical application’s date forwards because your hair didn’t texturise or relax enough this time. Are pain and hair loss worth rushing things for?
8. Where did it all go wrong?
You shouldn’t fear hair chemicals, but be more cautious in the future. Go over the past week, especially the day you relaxed, to figure out what went wrong. Did you scratch your scalp or sweat before relaxing (they open the pores and lead to burns)? Did you time the relaxer process wrong? Did you wash out the neutraliser too fast? Only you can determine where things went wrong. Don’t think too hard. The answer will come eventually.
When you figure out the problem, learn and move on. What’s done is done. If you can’t figure out the mistake you made, be extra vigilant next time. Leave the relaxer on for less time, apply the chemicals faster, use more vaseline/grease on your bare skin, etc. Read 10 Steps to Relax Your Hair. Even if you’re a hair care veteran, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself. Better safe than sorry.
Hair damage isn’t the end of the world. Your hair WILL grow back, and with some new hair care knowledge it’ll be healthier than ever. If you’re experiencing noticeable hair loss, now is a great time to discover what else you love about yourself. Your hair doesn’t define you, and it never should, so embrace the new you.