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What not to do before a relaxer?

Getting a relaxer is an involved process that requires careful preparation to ensure optimal results. There are several things you should avoid doing in the weeks and days leading up to your appointment to prevent damage or less than ideal outcomes.

How Long Before a Relaxer Should You Stop Other Chemical Services?

When getting a relaxer, you’ll want to avoid other chemical services for 4-6 weeks beforehand. Chemical treatments like hair color, keratin treatments, perms, or other chemical straightening services can interact with relaxer chemicals in unpredictable ways. Getting these too close together can lead to overprocessing, damage, or unsatisfactory results.

Giving your hair a break from chemical treatments for a month or more before a relaxer allows it to rebuild strength and integrity for better processing. The healthier your hair and scalp are before relaxing, the better your results will be.

Should You Do a Clarifying Shampoo Before Relaxing?

Yes, doing a clarifying shampoo within a day or two before relaxing is recommended. Clarifying removes built-up residue, oils, and product from your hair. Getting your hair ultra-clean preps it for optimal relaxer processing.

Clarifying before a chemical service also helps avoid any adverse reactions between residue or oils on your hair and the relaxer. Buildup can block the relaxer from your hair in spots, leading to uneven results.

When Should You Stop Washing Your Hair Before a Relaxer?

You’ll want to avoid washing your hair for 1-2 days before getting a relaxer. Shampooing too soon before can leave your scalp dry, irritated, or overly-stripped. This can lead to burning or discomfort during relaxing.(“

Giving your scalp a short break from shampooing allows your natural oils to rebuild a bit. This offers some protection and lubrication during the harsh relaxing process. Just be sure not to go too long without washing, or product buildup could interfere.

Should You Avoid Heat Styling Before Relaxing?

Yes, heat styling with tools like blowdryers, flat irons, or curling wands should be avoided for 2 weeks or more pre-relaxer. The extreme heat can damage hair and cause bonds within the hair shaft to break down.

This damage then makes your hair more prone to chemical damage from the strong relaxer products. Avoiding heat gives your hair the strongest, most intact foundation before a chemical process.

When Should You Stop Brushing Your Hair Before Relaxing?

You’ll want to avoid overly manipulating your hair through brushing or combing for 2-3 days before getting a relaxer. Excessive brushing can stress and fatigue the hair shaft, causing strands to be more prone to damage.

Putting your hair up and avoiding combing for a few days before relaxing minimizes weakness and tangling. This helps the chemicals process smoothly from root to ends for sleek, even relaxing.

Should You Avoid Exercise Before Relaxing?

Vigorous exercise that leads to heavy sweating should be avoided for 1-2 days before getting a relaxer. The combination of sweat, oils, and bacteria from exercise can lead to scalp irritation during processing.

Light exercise is fine, but be sure to wash your hair and scalp thoroughly afterward to avoid any irritation-causing residue. Keeping your scalp calm and fresh pre-relaxer prevents discomfort.

Should You Avoid Products With Oil Before Relaxing?

Yes, you’ll want to avoid using products containing oils, butters, or petroleum on your hair for 1-2 weeks pre-relaxer. Oil coats the hair and can block the relaxing chemicals from penetrating evenly.

Sticking to light, oil-free products allows for maximum saturation of the relaxer chemicals for smooth, consistent straightening from scalp to ends.

Should You Avoid Dandruff Shampoos Before Relaxing?

Medicated dandruff shampoos containing ingredients like zinc, tar, or selenium sulfide are too harsh to use right before relaxing. The drying, stripping formulas can irritate your scalp and skin, causing extreme discomfort when the chemicals are applied.

If you have dandruff, use a gentle shampoo for the 1-2 weeks before your appointment. You can resume a medicated formula after your scalp has recovered from the relaxer chemicals.

Should You Avoid Scalp Scrubs and Treatments Pre-Relaxer?

Yes, abrasive scalp scrubs or chemical treatments should be avoided 1-2 weeks before relaxing. Harsh scrubs can cause micro-tears, irritation, and inflammation that the chemicals will further aggravate.

Treatments like PRP therapy or medicated formulas can also sensitize the scalp and skin. Stick to gentle cleansing for a few weeks beforehand and resume specialized treatments after relaxing when your scalp has healed.

Should You Go to a Salon or Do It at Home?

Salon At Home
  • Professional application
  • Access to high-quality products
  • Customized formulation and timing
  • Expert technique for even, smooth results
  • More affordable
  • Convenient
  • Self-application can lead to unevenness
  • Higher risk of damage if not done properly

Getting your relaxer done professionally at a salon that specializes in chemical processes is highly recommended. The cosmetologist can safely formulate, apply, time, and neutralize the relaxer based on your hair needs for optimal results.

At-home relaxers are more prone to mistakes that can cause varying texture, breakage, or burns. But if done carefully, they can save money and time.

What’s the Best Relaxer Formula to Use?

No or low lye relaxers are the safest formulas for minimizing damage and irritation. Lye relaxers straighten faster but are harsher on hair. No-lye versions such as calcium or guanidine hydroxide straighten more gently.

Look for options for your hair texture – coarse, medium, or fine. Straight, wavy, or very coily hair may need different strengths. Your stylist can help select the ideal formula and strength.

How Often Can You Get a Relaxer Touch-Up?

Touch-Up Frequency Pros Cons
Every 6-8 weeks
  • Maintains straighter new growth
  • Prevents obvious line of demarcation
  • Higher risk of damage from overlapping chemicals
  • Dryness or breakage over time
Every 10-12 weeks
  • Less chemical processing
  • Healthier for hair long-term
  • More new growth appears between treatments
  • Needs more precision application

Getting touch-ups every 10-12 weeks allows your hair to recover more between chemical processes. But more new growth will appear that requires precise application.

Frequent touch-ups every 6-8 weeks can lead to cumulative damage over time. But they prevent obvious roots and slowly relax new growth.

What Are Some Relaxer Aftercare Tips?

  • Wait 48-72 hours before washing hair
  • Use a deep conditioning hair mask 1-2 times per week
  • Avoid heat styling tools for 1 week
  • Use a boar bristle brush and gentle handling
  • Trim regularly to prevent splits on relaxed ends
  • Use a silk pillowcase to minimize friction

Proper aftercare is crucial for keeping relaxed hair healthy and minimizing breakage. Deep conditioning, low manipulation, gentle handling, and protective styling help your hair stay strong.

What if You Want to Transition Back to Natural Hair?

Transitioning from relaxed to natural hair requires slowly trimming the straightened ends while new growth comes in. Some tips include:

  • Stop relaxing and slowly trim off straightened ends
  • Use protective hairstyles like braids, weaves, or wigs
  • Perform regular trims to limit tangled two-textures
  • Use hydrating, strengthening products for new growth
  • Avoid heat on new growth to prevent damage

It can take over a year to transition, requiring patience and a good haircare regimen. But taking the time to transition gradually helps you avoid having to chop off all your length at once.


Preparing your hair properly before a relaxer is crucial to get the best results and avoid damage. Avoiding chemical services, heat styling, oils, and scalp treatments in the weeks beforehand gives your hair the strongest foundation.

Selecting the right formula, carefully applying, timing, and neutralizing the relaxer can also make a big difference. Proper aftercare and maintenance will help keep your relaxed hair looking sleek, shiny, and healthy.