Discussion in 'Hair Care Tips & Product Review Discussion' started by Lilmama1011, Aug 22, 2013.
In the previous article we were just getting into the*assessment*behind the use of a relaxer versus regular heat. We examined the bond structure of the hair strand and how each is altered based on heat or chemical use.*Building*on that, the story then gets a little sticky.
When we add minimal heat as mentioned before we are solely affecting the hydrogen bonds of the hair. This means you can essentially wear your hair straight and go right back to curly if you choose to do so as long as you are taking all the proper precautions by using heat protectant.
Sometimes high heat can adversely affect the proteins that form the bonds in our hair causing the hair structure to be permanently altered, this is known as heat damage that leaves originally curly hair straight or wavy.
Some women choose to use heat as their main source of altering the bonds of the hair so that the hair is straighter and straighter with every heat application. We like to*affectionately*call this process*heat training*with a smile. Others however may look at it as*intentionally*damaging your hair for the sake of having straight hair (side eye and knitted brow).
It’s worth a mention that if you are natural and wear your hair straightened all the time, you are in fact heat training your hair anyway.
In contrast when you relax your hair, you are making the choice to permanently alter the bonds of the hair to ensure that it remains straight. Relaxers in this way are similar to heat training because they are both controlled methods of altering the structure of your hair and in doing so you have created a mane that is easier for you to handle.
Now applying the term*damage*to either scenario is definitely too strong a word with some very negative connotations because both relaxed and heat trained hair can in fact be very healthy and women have achieved their goals even after altering the structure of their hair.
Truly damaged hair is defined as hair that has lost it’s structural*integrity,*tensile strength, elasticity, is unnaturally porous, dull, limp and brittle. Quite a mouthful huh? Just like our ladies on the weight loss*journeys*if there is no balance there is no success, so we still have to be*mindful*in either scenario to prevent true damage.
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For naturals excessive heat can cause your hair to break without the proper precautions like using a heat protectants. You also ought to be getting regular protein treatments and adding moisture back into the strands often. But even with heat protectants, flat ironing and blow drying too often will lead to damaged hair. So nope, no reprieve for you ladies who think it’s ok to ‘touch up’ your hair with heat multiple times per week.
In the same way using a relaxer excessively or incorrectly can lead to dull thin breaking hair, not to mention scalp damage. We’ve all seen those disturbing pictures of women with chemical burns from relaxer right?*It is important to use relaxers with the utmost of care stretching for 12+ weeks to ensure that there is plenty of new growth and so little chance of overlapping with*previously*processed hair. Deep treating your hair alternately with protein and moisture is also the gold standard for length retention.
So which is better, relaxer or regular heat use?
The answer is: It’s your choice but err on the side of natural hair.*Bear in mind the*limitations of your hair texture. If you have fine*hair may not be able to handle either relaxer or regular heat without breakage in which case remaining ‘unaltered natural’ may be the only option open to you.
Why this conclusion?
If you enjoy wearing curly hair as well as straightened hair then clearly, remaining natural is the best way to go, let’s face it curly dos like braid outs look helluva better on natural hair anyway!
If on the other hand you never wear your natural hair curly, from a purely tensile strength point of view, it probably makes little difference if you decide to flat iron periodically or go for a texlax.*The problem with chemicals however is that there is a much narrower margin of error and once hair has crossed into the over-processed*side, there is little you can do to prevent breakage.
I distinctly remember a thread on a forum a few years ago of a woman who had been texlaxing for years. One time, after following her usual routine to touch up, her roots got bone straight! As expected, a setback and a major haircut soon followed. You see now why I say that you should err on the side of natural hair?
Further to that, from an*observational point of view, you only have to browse through youtube or blogs to see scores of women who have grown long and clearly healthy hair both via relaxers and natural with heat use. Yet the number of naturals heavily outweigh the relaxed. Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just saying!
There you have it folks do you agree or disagree?
For some, scalp health is the deciding factor that this article doesn't address.
I like wearing my hair straight so I opt for the flat iron as opposed to the relaxer. After suffering from breakage, I took a full self imposed heat-free year. My hair was able to regain it's strength and thickness and I am careful now with how I use heat.
As mentioned in the article I have used the flat iron without heat protectant (even though I knew better), I have touched up my roots a couple times during the week (again even if I knew better). I also did not moisturize and care for my hair the way I should have so it broke off. I was going through a tough time back them so hair was the least of my concern.
Now I flat iron about every 2 weeks but I blowdry my hair weekly. I make sure to moisturize, seal and definitely use heat protectant before I blow dry and before I flat iron. I've been having an issue with shedding over the last 2 weeks. (i had not straightened in a month or more. After doing a couple tricks I learned on here and flat ironing my hair, the shedding has subsided.
At this point I have no interest in applying any kind of relaxer to my hair.....no sireeee!
I think it depends on how well your hair agrees with heat. If I had to choose, I'd opt to be a straight haired natural if my hair didn't revert so easily.
Same here, but I work out too much to be a straight haired natural
At the time that this thread was started, I was having the same internal discussion. Lol.
I chose to texlax and finally did it in April that next year. I don't regret it one bit, it was the best choice for me.
I use lye, even though it's harder on the scalp, because I figure I'm only relaxing 1-3 times per year. So I can afford to put the effort into thoroughly basing my scalp with vaseline a few times per year. I got few scalp burns initially as I learned how to properly base my scalp but haven't had any in the last 4 years.
It was/is more practical for my lifestyle to have stretched hair without the frequent manipulation of stretching it or using heat too often and dealing with reversion. I also knew that if I heat straightened as a natural, I wouldn't properly moisturize for fear of reversion. It took too much time and effort to straighten just for it to revert that same day or within the next few days.
I barely flat iron as a texlaxed head. My blow dryer or hot air brush gets it straight enough. I just PS to stretch until my next relaxer. I was pretty much PSing 95% of the time as a natural anyway. Texlaxing helps me to cut down on the manipulation needed to get my hair into the PS as well as keeps my hair from reverting as much if I decide to use heat.
I also like being able to see the length that I've worked hard to retain.
thanks for the response
As long as the hair isn't being over processed or overlapped, I think relaxing/texlaxing is the safer option. The hair is only being chemically processed once vs having heat continuously applied to the entire hair strand over a period of time. My hair is fine so excessive flat iron use and chemicals are a no go for me if I want to retain length.
I think relaxing is better for me to control my laziness. Natural hair can hide a multitude of sins, and you don’t really realize it until you straighten. With relaxed hair, you have to stay on top of your game if you wanna keep some type of healthy hair on your head. When I was natural, my hair wasn’t a big fan of heat and unless it was a lot of it. Then I’d start losing more hair from not moisturizing it properly because of reversion.