Chemical treatments can take a toll on your hair, our hair experts sort out your problems
Need solutions for your hair problems? Please write to: Shade Oloniyo BBH/Josh Hair & Beauty 95 Church Street Croydon Surrey CR0 1RN
FEELING FRAGILE Constant braiding and weaves have left my hair fragile and broken, especially around the hairline. So I’ve decided to give my hair a rest and have it relaxed instead. But I need to tong it every day, otherwise it looks frizzy. It’s hard work – can you advise me on alternative care for my hair?
You’ll encounter only further damage if you continue to treat your hair this way – regular use of heated appliances, blowdriers and tongs causes breakage and splitting and should be kept it to a minimum. The fact that your hair is frizzing indicates poor or uneven relaxing, which isn’t unusual for hair that’s been braided for a long period. To help overcome the problem, you need a course of regular conditioning treatments and particularly prior to chemical services when your hair undergoes huge changes in structure. If your hair has been straightened correctly there will be no frizz or swelling of the hair shaft but if there is breakage or splitting, the only solution is to have it cut. At night, wrap-set your hair using a serum such as Organic Root or Keracare and wrap your head with a silk or satin headscarf to help keep it in good condition.
SCRATCH THE SURFACE No matter what perm I use on my hair, I get a dry, itchy scalp – it must be caused by the relaxer because I didn’t have a scalp problem when my hair was natural. Nothing I’ve tried works long-term, so I have to shampoo my hair three times a week to get rid of the flakes. Help!
It’s likely that you are allergic to the straightening chemicals, in which case there’s little that can be done apart from finding an alternative hairstyle. But maybe it’s because you’re not using enough oil on your scalp – apply little and often to maintain oil balance without creating a greasy overload. Also, try to eat food that contains omega 3 essential fatty acids – a weekly dose of oily fish or daily cod liver oil supplements, for instance. Drinking plenty of water and avoid caffeine content may help keep skin hydrated, too. Try the At One range for dry scalps and Top Brass – but apply to affected areas only.
HOT STUFF I will be emigrating to Jamaica in a few months time but I am concerned about what to do with my hair. I have been growing out a relaxer for eight months. I know it won’t survive the heat especially with my high blood pressure and menopausal state which means I am constantly sweating. I would like some form of chemical as my hair is thick and wiry. I thought about braiding but my hairline is not the strongest. Please advise.
The sweating will definitely distress the texture of your hair and cause straightening reversion due to the salt content (which is very drying) in the perspiration. You will require a moisture-based perm like a curly or body wave perm. This will counteract the effects of the sweating which in turn counteract the bad effects of the drying to the hair. I recommend that you cut your hair in a precise style so that it looks fashionable and will be easy to maintain.
THE HEAT IS ON I permed my hair with a kiddies relaxers as I didn’t want my hair to become too straight. It was fine to begin with but after three weeks my hair started to swell. To make it straight I use the GHD irons daily. Surely this is not good for my hair as I am using a lot of heat.
Kiddies perms are intended to be a mild form of a relaxer, therefore only giving moderate straightness. The two main kits are Just For Me by Soft and Beautiful and PCJ by Lusters (PCJ stands for Pressing Comb in a Jar). Their function is to temporarily straighten the hair shaft which after a short period will slowly revert to almost a natural state. It is mandatory to retouch hair every six to eight weeks taking the perm through to the ends each time for approximately five minutes for desirable results. If you want utmost straightness you will need to relax the hair.
JUST RELAX At what age can one comfortably relax hair? My daughter is 13 and wants me to straighten her hair. I know it will make it manageable but I am dubious about hair breakage and colour change to the hair.
I am a firm believer that children’s hair should be left natural until at least the age of 15 when they are more responsible with maintenance and can go to the hairdressers independently. Another factor to remember is that hair goes haywire during adolescent changes and is more susceptible to breakage.
HOT HEADED Everytime I apply a relaxer to my hair it really burns and I get scabs. Why does this happen and what can I do to stop it?
It could be that the relaxer you are using contains lye, which tends to irritate sensitive skin. Using a relaxer that contains no lye is much more comfortable for those who find that they are sensitive to the chemical. It may also be that you’ve just developed an extra sensitivity to the relaxer iself, no matter what type it is, and no matter how well the scalp is based prior to the chemical process being carried out. Sadly, if the problem persists, you may want to look into going all natural and having your hair pressed as opposed to being permanently straightened as chemical relaxers are not for everyone.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS When my daughter was three years old, I applied a relaxer to her hair. One side broke off completely and has not grown properly since. Do you have any advice to get her hair back on track?
It would be best to let the relaxer grow out of your daughter's hair. This will require a great deal of patience as you will be starting from scratch and this will take time. As the new hair grows, trim the relaxed hair off. You’re going to need to regularly treat her hair too. Visit a professional afro hair salon for advice on what treatments to use. Avoid tight braids as additional stress to the hair may cause even more breakage. If you are to relax her hair again, I suggest that you wait until puberty. The hair growth process is strongly driven by the female hormone, oestrogen. By that time, she will be better able to tolerate chemicals, and care for her own hair too.
WHAT LYE’S BENEATH I still don’t know the difference between lye or no-lye relaxers. Can you please explain and advise which one I should go for?
Lye relaxers are made up of the chemical sodium hydroxide. These tend to be used for texturising or for breaking down hair that is quite strong, however for some people it can be too harsh, particularly if they have a sensitive scalp. No-lye relaxers are made of the chemical calcium hydroxide, guanidine or lithium. This has been designed to be less irritating, in turn making them kinder and gentler on the scalp. Do consult a professional as to which of these would be suitable for you. It's not as simple as just picking up a relaxer for coarse hair; you're going to need someone that is capable of analysing and directing you to the best possible choice.
TREAT YOUSELF I’m a model and have to change my hairstyle often. I relax my hair every three to four weeks and now I find that it sheds a lot. Where am I going wrong?
Relaxing your hair every three to four weeks is a definite mistake. By doing so, you are over-processing the hair, and in turn it has become frail, brittle and sheds excessively. Relaxers should be done every six to eight weeks and should be carried out by a professional and qualified stylist. Treatments are essential for all hair types, especially those that are chemically treated. Try Osmo Essence Intensive Deep Repair Mask (£6.95/250ml) which treats severely damaged relaxed hair. By using it every two to three weeks the shedding should slow down and eventually stop all together.
TRUTH OF THE MATTER I’m three months pregnant and I want to relax my hair, but I’ve heard that you should steer clear from the use of chemicals as it could harm the baby. How true is this?
There is some element of truth to not relaxing the hair during pregnancy, but only to a certain extent. Every woman is made up differently and will therefore have different reactions. In the first three months of pregnancy hormones (which influence your mood, skin and even hair) are racing up and down. When your hormones are unbalanced, and you go to have a relaxer, you may experience acute irritation or insufficient processing of the hair. The best thing to do is to have a patch test carried out by a qualified stylist to ensure it is safe to carry out the service. This should be done everytime you have a relaxer during your pregnancy. Last but not least, don’t believe everything you hear about chemical relaxers. For instance, a relaxer has no way of seeping through your scalp and into your blood stream to harm your unborn child. The worst thing that can happen is that you get a nasty burn and scab on your head if you neglect to have a patch test beforehand.
TEXTURE TIME I have been texturising my hair as opposed to straight curling as it is fine and delicate. The problem is I am now losing the curl pattern I once had, so my hair resembles a straggly mop. I don’t think it is due to the texturiser being too strong as it does not burn my scalp. Can you suggest a cause for this.
Unless you trim your hair each time you texturise it, you will find that the texturiser will overlap onto previously permed hair. It will then over process the hair resulting in it becoming straighter especially as it is naturally fine. Hence why it will not have a great wave pattern to withstand such chemical application. Try leaving retouches for as long as possible to establish more volume and body.