This is a touchy subject amongst black women because while a lot of us believe that it is impossible to relax and bleach your without damage there are some of us who believe they have done so successfully. So who is right? Can you relax and bleach your hair and still maintain its health? The answer is yes...... and no. Because all hair is not the same, everybody responds to chemical processing in different ways.
As I was researching this topic I decided to call a few beauty salons in my local area just to get an idea of how a "professional" would handle this situation. When I called, I said my hair was relaxed and I would like to bleach it (I said bleach rather than dye because I wanted to be clear). The majority of the stylists told me to come right in without asking me any questions about the length of time I had the relaxer or the condition of my hair. One stylist asked me how long it had been since I had a relaxer because I needed to wait at least two weeks before I bleached my hair while another completely refused to bleach my hair. She told me that my hair would fall out because hair could not take both chemical processes. So again the opinion is across the board.
If you are a person who has decided to relax and bleach your hair understand that it is at your own risk and can cause irreversible damage. Black (people of African descent) hair tends to be drier than people of other races because it takes longer for our scalps to produce natural oils which provide moisture. When you relax your hair, it strips the hair of its moisture and weakens the the hair bonds. Bleaching the hair does a similar effect so when you combine the two you end up with hair that is highly susceptible to extreme damage that includes breakage and split ends. So how do you care for your hair? The key to keeping your hair healthy is moisture. I have provided a regimen which could possibly help you to retain moisture and health.
Step #1: Start a weekly hair washing regimen. Your regimen should consist of these 3 steps:
a) Begin with a pre-poo or hot oil treatment as they provide moisture to your hair and reduce
breakage and dryness.
b)Wash your hair with a moisturizing sulfate-free shampoo and follow with an intense
moisturizing deep conditioner. When applying conditioner focus on the ends of the hair
where it is the driest and leave it on for at least 15 mins. For added moisture, put on a
plastic cap and sit under the dryer for 10 mins to help the product penetrate in your hair.
c)Apply a leave-in conditioner after your wash to keep moisture in your hair and seal it with oil.
Step #2: Moisturize & Seal your hair daily.
Step #3: Avoid heat styles-avoid blow drying and flat ironing your hair as much as possible. Instead try heat free styles such as roller sets, pin curls, flexi-rod sets, braid outs,etc.
Step #4: Trim your ends regularly-people who relax and bleach their hair often have dry, straggly ends, to maintain the health of your hair trim your ends every 8 weeks.
Step #5: Wait at least 4 weeks between getting a relaxer and your hair bleached to reduce the chance of damage.
Step #6: Never bleach your hair at home- always go to a 'professional' hair stylist (remember, just because someone has a cosmetology degree doesn't mean they are professional).
Step #7: Use products specifically designed for color treated hair. L'Oreal EverPure is a great sulfate-free line for color treated hair.
If you are doing all the steps above and your hair is over processed (dry, split ends, frizzy strands) than stop all chemical processing and take the time to repair your hair. Remember, everyone's hair is different and will react differently.
I hope this was helpful and I wish everyone much success on their healthy hair journey.