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It’s no secret that relaxing hair is one of the harshest things you can do to your strands. It chemically alters the hair into being straight. Science bomb: Relaxing actually works by breaking the disulfide bonds that are in the cortex layer of the hair. That releases the curly or coiled texture of certain hair types.

This process is also incredibly drying to the hair, especially because it’s recommended you relax new growth every eight weeks. But if you want straight hair, that doesn’t mean you should avoid relaxing hair. It just means you have to be very mindful that your hair will have increased moisturizing needs. Below are several ways to keep relaxed hair moisturized and healthy.

Some basics 

Before we get into how to moisturize relaxed hair, you should know some other points about caring for relaxed hair. Otherwise, the moisturizing benefits will be cancelled out by other hair care steps. A few pointers to keep in mind are:

  • Consult your stylist about other hair treatments: Make sure you are not over-relaxing or doubling up on harsh treatments like coloring right after relaxing. This will lead to over-processing of the hair.
  • Use sulfate-free hair products: Sulfates are detergents that strip hair of natural oils, so these are a no-no for hair that is already dried and processed.
  • Avoid heat styling tools: These can dry out hair even more.
  • Look into other treatment solutions: Double processing hair (relaxing and then coloring, for instance) can be very harsh on hair and can even lead to hair loss if overdone. Look into less harsh options like color gloss treatments instead of dying hair.
  • Limit washing: Only wash hair once a week, twice at most, to reduce damage. You might also consider conditioner-only washing if you just have to wash more frequently.

Follow these tips and you won’t undo all the good that enhanced moisturizing does.

Moisturizing using the layering method

Relaxed hair will need multiple layers of moisture to help the moisture seal in. The easiest method is a two-step moisturizer and oil application. To start, you’ll need a moisturizer that will have water (aqua) as the first ingredient, either in a cream, lotion or liquid formulation.

This is important: Do not use mineral oil or a product containing mineral oil on relaxed hair. It creates an occlusive barrier on the hair that traps moisture from leaving the hair and entering it.

For oil, you can go with a product that combines multiple oils and is for hair specifically, or use natural oils such as jojoba, olive, coconut, or grape seed. Try to buy extra-virgin, cold-pressed oils to get maximum benefits.

You’ll apply a small dollop of the moisturizer into your hand, rub it in both hands and rub it into your hair. Do the same with the oil. Then, let the treatments sit on your hair overnight under a hair wrap for best results.

Do this as often as you feel you need it (a few times a week or daily, for instance). And apply to the parts of the hair that need it most. For instance, you may need to apply it all over, while others need only apply the moisturizer and oil to the ends of the hair.