12 Lessons Learned During My 21 Week Relaxer Stretch

1. Do everything with a patient attitude

If I’ve learned anything during this stretch, it’s that rushing through anything will do more harm than good (a lesson also applies to life in generally really).

2. Detangling is always in my best interest

Always. Seriously. If I skip one week of detangling, matted hair is in my immediate future. It’s as if my hair rebels against me and my coil-y new growth just decides to fuse together in little groups around my head.

I essentially detangle two, maybe three times during the week: (1) I finger comb my hair prior to shampooing to remove any shed hairs; (2) with a seamless comb on my wash days (after applying leave-in conditioner & serum); and (3) finger comb my hair as it air dries on days I do my mid-week deep conditioning session/co-wash.

3. Work in small section at all times

When detangling, shampooing, conditioning, moisturizing, I work in nothing short of 6 sections. By working in smaller sections, I’m able to both apply product evenly to my hair while preventing excess breakage that I get when i work in larger sections.

4. Moisture is my friend

My very best friend. Deep conditioning twice a week and moisturizing the length of my hair nightly helps keep my hair soft and manageable. Dry hair is a cry for help before breakage moves in.

5. Never detangle dry hair

Whether I use oil (ok ok, hair is still dry underneath the oil, but for the sake of this bullet point, let’s pretend it’s not lol), conditioner, leave-in conditioner or my homemade marshmallow root detangling spray, my always needs a little “something” before I detangle – whether it’s with a comb or solely my fingers.

6. Protein is a necessity, not a luxury

When stretching relaxers, the line of demarcation – the area between relaxed hair and unprocessed new growth – becomes the weakest part of our hair. While keeping our hair moisturized is necessary to help maintain hair’s elasticity, protein is also essential to help strengthen our hair against breakage.

7. Just leave my hair alone

While texlaxing has substantially thickened up my hair, my strands are still fine and thrive when I simply leave them alone.

8. My steamer loves me, and I love it

So what if it’s an inanimate object. Those clouds of hot steam signal love vibes.

9. Trim my darn nails

Chipped nails or chipped polish are beyond annoying when you finger comb 95% of the time. While my hair isn’t the number one reason I keep my nails short and neat, it helps avoid broken strands

10. Keeping new growth stretched is a wonderful thing. Stretched new growth = less tangly new growth.

11. My texlaxed hair has made it easier to stretch my relaxer

When I relaxed my hair bone straight, the difference in textures was much more glaring. Back in the day you’d see pin straight hair and then a little pillow of new growth that was always dry and tangling because during my relaxed bone straight days I hadn’t realized how importance it was to keep my new growth moisturized. I used to be a focus-only-on-the-length kinda gal. Nowadays, I don’t get much breakage between the line of demarcation between my texlaxed hair and new growth and it’s easier to blend the two textures.

12. Do everything with a patient attitude

14 Comments

  1. I have to work on my patience but this stretch has been much more palatable than the rest and I've actually been working out a lot more during this 12 weeks which scared me before. I need to get back on the moisturizing kick more than I have been but so far so good.

  2. Hi Jen two questions, I am totally natural now, about two to three inches in length if I stretch it out.when I used to relax my hair and get new growth, the relaxed hair would shed, how did you keep it from breaking off? Question two, I am considering going back to relaxing, do you have any suggestions for my first relaxer in over a year.I have no relaxed hair and I want to do the myself without going to the hair dresser, to much money. Thanks

  3. You are so right to emphasize patience. I think that's the hardest part sometimes. Even though I've never stretched to 21 weeks, I can imagine patience is even more important at that point. Great post, Jeni!

  4. I love that you started and ended with patience! I always end up regretting trying to rush thru my hair. And the untrimmed nails get me every.single.time. This is a great list!

  5. so depressed. i deep condition, i co wash , i shampoo . i do my hair every two weeks . i wear a wig daily . i am still so lost why ???

  6. I need help , i strected my relaxer for a year . My hair always sheds constantly alot . I am about to give up , i straightened my hair and its very thin. I cant be bothered with this hair journey . Nothing i try works, castor oil, coconut oil , im just tired. What can i do to get my hair looking thick .

  7. Another great post! I applied a lot of these tips during my last stretch. I will be doing the same thing this time.

  8. Well said Jen! That patience point is no joke. Whenever I long-term protective style, it takes a bout 2 hours to unravel the braids and detangle the hair, but I know that's the only way to keep my hair on my head. Slow and steady wins the race.

    Also during this stretch I started stretching my wet new growth with ponytail holders and keeping it that way until dry. When it's dry I'm like "what new growth??" It's great.

  9. Beautiful Post! You have highlighted some really important points. Patience is extremely key regardless of how many weeks post you are.

  10. Great post! Quick question: How does Hairitage Hydration Pink Grapefruit Punch Conditioner compare to the Silk Dreams Vanilla Silk Dream Moisture Cream Conditioner as a deep conditioner?

  11. I'm starting to pay closer attention to these types of posts from you since you've never really struggled with the "thin end" issue I'm always battling. So far, aside from my protective styling, I've began using my fingers more instead of always reaching for my comb and remembering to pay extra special attention to moisturizing and applying protein along my line of demarcation. Makes sense about texlaxing helping you stretch – I've had the same thought about the extreme difference between my relaxed and new growth hair textures which is why I think shorter stretches work best for me.

  12. Awesome post and as always very helpful. This 20 week stretch has thought me a LOT about patience for real. Ddrinking water is oh so important to help with keeping our scalps hydrated also. Awesome post and as always very helpful.

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