So what are these chemicals specifically formulated to do?
- Relaxers are the process of permanently chemically straightening the hair by breaking down the hair's natural bonds and reshaping them so they are straight
- Keratin straightening uses direct heat to seal the keratin protein in the cuticle layer. It's a semi-permanent treatment lasting about 3-4 months because it doesn't change the hair bonds
- Bleaching is the chemical lightening of the hair and the process strips the hair of essential oils
- Hair color, when permanent, brings about the oxidation of sulfur in the hair by penetrating the shaft
If these chemicals aren't applied properly through overprocessing or overlapping, and the hair isn't treated with care during and after the application, they can do a lot more damage than good. Overprocessing is when the chemicals are applied for too long and/or too frequently and create weak spots in the hair. Overlapping is when multiple chemical applications, such as relaxer and hair color, are applied within a short amount of time. This also weakens the hair.
Signs of chemical hair damageSome of the signs of chemically damaged hair are it
- Looks dull and lacks shine
- Feels dry, brittle, and rough
- Gets tangled easily
- Has lots of split ends
- Is falling out and thereby thinning
- Breaks easily
Tips to avoid chemical hair damageHere are some general tips on how to avoid future chemical damage:
- Allow several weeks between touch ups and chemical applications to avoid overlapping and over processing. Stretch your relaxers longer than six weeks. Recommendations are to have about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of new growth when getting a relaxer touch up.
- Regularly deep condition. Using heat when you deep condition can lift the cuticle layer allowing the conditioner into the hair and then rinsing with cool water closes the cuticle keeping the moisture in.
- Regularly moisturize and seal. Regularly can vary from head-to-head. You made not need to moisturize every day between washes. I typically moisturize every other day or less if I wear my ends tucked away for most of the week.
- Do protein treatments based on the needs of your hair. If you're experiencing breakage or your hair is over-moisturized and feels mushy you may need a protein treatment.
What are your tips to treat/avoid chemical damage?
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Sources: http://www.esalon.com/blog/which-chemical-hair-treatments-cause-the-most-damage/, http://www.damagedhair.net/chemdam.html