How to Grow Out a Relaxer Without Damaging Hair: Top 10 Tools
Want to go natural without cutting your hair or damaging it?
One of the questions I hear from women who are thinking about going natural is “Will growing out a relaxer will damage or break my hair off?” They’ve heard stories about someone’s hair falling out after they stopped relaxing it and they’re not sure if their hair will be in bad shape if they transition to natural hair.
Let’s clear up something first: going natural won’t make your hair fall out. The absence of the chemicals in relaxers don’t keep your hair on your head. But that doesn’t mean that women don’t experience breakage after they start to grow out their relaxers. However, that’s not due to the absence of a relaxer but rather to how the hair is handled.
If you treat your hair right you can experience little to no breakage, retain length and have a head full of healthy hair. That was my experience and that of other naturals I know. We didn’t have the breakage others did. If you build a healthy hair regimen with the right tools and methods, your hair will thrive.
Here’s a list of tools that can help you grow your relaxer or texturizer with minimal damage:
How to Use Each Tool to Help You Grow Out a Relaxer
1. Wide-tooth shower comb: Use this to detangle your hair while it’s soaked with conditioner. Buy one with the shower hook on the end to make it easy to access in the shower.
One of the main causes of breakage while transitioning is mishandling hair at the line of demarcation, the point where relaxed hair and natural hair meet. The kinkier your hair texture, the more sharp the angle at the line of demarcation and the easier it is to snap/break. Handle gently.
2. Goody “Spin Pins”: Those two coily pins are used to create up-do’s, buns chignons and many other off-the-shoulder protective styles. Those puppies do the job of 10-20 hair pins.
They truly do secure your hair in place without snagging (they have little balls on the end so they don’t stick or break your hair/scalp). Wearing buns and up-do’s prevents you from having to put heat on your hair to style it and minimizes the amount of manipulation it takes to achieve a daily style.
3. Baby Brush: Use the baby brush to lay down your edges (new growth doesn’t lay flat like relaxed hair). Don’t pull a brush through transitioning hair (remember the line of demarcation). Use gel or shea butter and/or water on edges then tie them down with a satin scarf until they dry flat.
4. Hairstopper: The round, while contraption at the top right of the pic below goes over the shower drain to catch hair. It saves you money on Draino but it also helps you easily tell how much hair is coming out of your hair when you cleanse/detangle it in the shower. The hairs in the stopper should mostly have white tips on the ends which means they were naturally shed directly from your scalp. If they don’t have white tips they’re broken hairs.
5. Jumbo vented rollers: Use these to wet set your hair to straighten new growth without heat. If natural hair dries straight it will stay that way until it’s wet again (that includes water-based hair products). This is a widely-used method that requires no direct heat and is very healthy for your hair. Leave it voluminous or wrap it at night for a straighter look.
6. Rod set (Flexi rods, cold wave rods and/or Curllformers): While jumbo vented rollers will make your natural hair straight, a rod set will do the opposite; helping you make relaxed ends textured, full and curly. There is no limit to what you can do with these. You can even twist/braid your hair then set them on large or small rods for a very curly, textured and full look. Also, Curlformers cost a pretty penny (about $70 for a set) but you can get generic ones for about $15. Also, try eBay and search for brand name Curlformers for a price that beats retail.Read this post to see 3 flexi/cold wave rod set tutorial videos for medium-length and long transitioning hair and a few styling ideas.
7. Hooded dryer or soft bonnet dryer: This is a healthy way to dry your hair in lieu of using blow dryers. Use these after you wet set your hair or let your hair air dry. Blow dyers and flat irons can damage hair and contribute to dryness/breakage even if you use a heat protectant.
8. Diffuser: A diffuser is an attachment for the end of a hand-held blow dyer that does just what it says: diffuses/spreads/disperses air so it doesn’t blow your hair all over the place. Okay, so yes I just said to limit use of a blow dyer and a diffuser is a blow dryer attachment. However, there’s a healthy way to use blow dryers with transitioning/natural hair. When dampen your hair to straighten your new growth, lay down the edges or take down a rod set that’s not quite dry then use a diffuser on a low heat setting.
This has been an invaluable tool for me to go months and months without ever straightening my hair with direct heat. It allows me to quickly set my hair in place to walk out the door quickly when I don’t have time to let it finish air drying. Also, it doesn’t contribute to frizz so I get a nice, smooth look- hair stays neatly in place.
9. Water misting bottle: This is another tool I can’t live without. If I want to get a smooth look I mist with a tad bit of water, apply gel or another styler, brush flat (edges only) and tie it down with a silk/satin scarf until it sets/dries.
10. Silk/satin scarf: Use this to tie your hair down to straighten new growth without heat or chemicals. Also, sleep in it (or a satin bonnet) to prevent damage/breakage/dryness when your hair rubs against your sheets or pillow.