Ask The Experts: The Healthy Way to Wear a Relaxer

Despite the naysayers, it is possible to rock a relaxer without drastically damaging your mane. Johnny Wright, hairstylist to First Lady Michelle Obama, offers his expert advice for longtime lovers – and devotees – of the "creamy crack."

Nicole Marie Melton Mar, 19, 2013

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Malinda Williams

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If you're strapped for cash but need a touch-up, Wright says it's perfectly fine to use a box relaxer kit as long as you follow the instructions to a T. "Always read the manufacturer's instructions," says Wright. "I recommend the Optimum Salon Haircare Amla Legend Relaxer Kit because everything is spelled out for you and it's really easy to use. As long as you know how to read, you can do this relaxer."

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Keeping your hair hydrated is essential to maintaining healthy, relaxed hair. Wright recommends that you seek out products specifically designed to provide moisture. "It's going to leave your hair nice and moisturized with a natural sheen to it without compromising the hair or causing any type of damage which is key," says Wright.

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When your hair is chemically treated, look for styling options that use minimal or no heat. "When you have a relaxer if your hair is not really short, get a roller set instead of blow-drying and flat-ironing your hair after you've shocked the hair with a chemical process," advises Wright.  "It's always good to do a roller set and then the next time you visit the salon, you can get a blow-dry and style."

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If you notice your hair is thinning or breaking, it might be a sign that your hair is overprocessed. "If your hair is just not staying on your head and you see a lot of breakage, you need to be concerned," says Wright. "When you start seeing a lot of short pieces all over the bathroom floor or sink, you need to understand that there is an abrasion on the hair somewhere and a cause of damage. You need to probably cut off the damage or start a really deep conditioning treatment."

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Chemically treated hair should be placed in the hands of a trusted stylist who can help keep your tresses in tact. "You want to make sure you get your touch-ups every eight weeks and every time you get a relaxer, get your ends trimmed, too. That's very important," says Wright.

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Adding color to relaxed hair can be tricky territory, but the key is being cautious about timing your treatments. "If you are going to double process your hair, you need to understand that you can't do it all in the same day or even close," advises Wright. "It needs to be two weeks apart. I always suggest that people do one or the other but if you want to double process, you need to space it out two weeks."

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