Long term relaxer stretching is the gateway to transitioning without big chop. Whether you’re simply looking to stretch your relaxer or desiring to go natural, both require a defined regimen, a balance of moisture and protein, as well as patience. Today I share with you how I was able to stretch my relaxer for 27 months without excessive breakage or damage to my hair.
One of the biggest issues I faced with transitioning without big chop was detangling. Using a three step detangling method has helped minimize knots and tangles at the line of demarcation.
Finger Detangle – removes shed hairs and knots so the comb does not snag or rip my hair.
Hercules Sagemann Jumbo Rake – great for light detangling.
Ouidad Double Row Detangler – provides deeper detangling and removes additional shed hairs.
Balancing Moisture & Protein
The second issue with transitioning without big chop is dry hair. I’ve written several articles on balancing moisture and protein but honestly, it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what’s the right balance for your hair. Once you get it right, it’s like hitting a home run. You’ll definitely know when you’ve arrived to the perfect balance. Your hair becomes resilient and doesn’t break easily.
Some really awesome deep conditioners that deliver the best moisture to multiple textures are Aubrey Organics White Camellia, Aubrey Honey Suckle Rose, Silk Elements Kera Minerals and Nexxus Therappe.
The three protein products I like best are Aubrey Organics GPB (light reconstructor), Ion Effective Care Treatment (light reconstructor) or Komaza Protein Strengthener (medium protein treatment). I use protein once or twice monthly. I generally use a light reconstructor. If my hair is feeling mushy or gummy, I’ll use the medium protein treatment. Hard protein treatments are too harsh for my hair, thus I don’t use them.
Patience & Realism
Two things needed when transitioning without big chop is patience and realism. I enter each wash day knowing I will see some breakage and shed hair. It’s par for the course and no way around it. Setting expectations alleviates panic when breakage and shedding occurs.
Low Manipulation Styles
As your natural hair start to fill in, you’ll need some go-to hairstyles that are low manipulation to keep your hands out of your hair as much as possible. Flexi rods, ponytail rollersets or buns are my signature hairstyles although wigs have been my go-to during this long-term relaxer stretch.
Wash Day Hair Tips for Transitioning Without Big Chop
The more new growth present, the more difficult wash day becomes. Therefore, reducing wash day frequency from once weekly to every two weeks helped minimize breakage associated with manipulation.
Moisture is a must and this next tip might sound counterproductive but it’s working really well for me. I now wash my hair with sulfate shampoo. Doing so removes buildup from my hair so that my deep conditioner can do what it’s designed to do – deeply penetrate and increase moisturize.
Many have reported great success with co-washing. My hair responds best to a good shampoo and deep conditioning session. Therefore, I prefer to skip co-washing and opt for a true wash day.
Washing my hair in 4 sections worked at one point but I now use 8-10 sections. Smaller sections are easier to manage, apply product and detangle.
Using conditioners that offer awesome slip for shower detangling is a must! Once out the shower, I’m able to comb through my hair without breakage.
Tension Blow Drying and/or Banding
I don’t always have time to heat style so tension blow drying (on cool) and/or banding are staples for drying my hair. It stretches the new growth and keeps it from shrinking. Air drying with loosely hanging hair is out of the question. While it’s the quickest drying method, it causes the most shrinkage. For me, shrunken hair is harder to moisturize and breaks easily. Therefore, keeping my hair stretched is a must.
Keeping Ends Trimmed & Healthy
Healthy ends make for easier detangling which helps with retention. Damaged ends have lifted cuticles and split-ends which cling together and causes tangles. Now that I have healthier ends, detangling is much easier.
Which tip did you find most helpful?