Washing Your Hair After Relaxers

african american woman with straight hair

Hair relaxers straighten and add shine. You can do relaxer treatments at home, but for best results, you should have a hair care professional do the treatments for your hair. Although relaxers are very popular, they can leave hair in a fragile state. Therefore, it's very important to take good care of your relaxed tresses. After you have a treatment, there are several essential steps to follow when washing your hair.

Caring for Relaxed Hair

Many women have questions and concerns about the appropriate hair care regimens after getting a relaxer treatment, and especially questions pertaining to washing and conditioning. If you are ever unsure about when or how to wash your hair after a relaxer, you should always consult a hair care professional.

How Soon to Wash

You can technically wash your hair the day after getting a relaxer. However, if you want to ensure that your hair has time to adjust to the chemical treatment, you should wait at least a week before washing. This is the best way to make sure your relaxer lasts.

What Will Happen If You Wash Too Soon

If you wash your hair too soon after getting a relaxer, you probably will not see any immediate consequences. However, by washing too soon, you will likely prevent the relaxer from lasting as long as it should.

Steps to Take Before the First Wash

The first time you wash your hair after getting a relaxer, your hair will need extra moisture and protection as it adjusts to the new chemical treatment. You should use a pre-shampoo treatment first to make sure your hair stays strong and healthy. Apply a protein-infused conditioner, pure coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil to your entire hair and scalp before shampooing. Let this sit for 30-45 minutes and then shampoo. This pre-shampoo treatment will prevent unnecessary breakage with the first shampoo and will leave hair with extra moisture and protection.


Aphogee Pro-Vitamin Leave-In Conditioner, 16 oz

You should always use a conditioner after washing relaxed hair. If you don't have time to leave a deep-conditioning treatment on the hair for at least 10 minutes, try an intense moisturizing conditioner or leave-in conditioner. Aphogee Pro-Vitamin leave in conditioner works specifically with the texture and style of African American hair. Protein-based conditioner or a protein treatment can greatly benefit relaxed hair. However, protein treatments should only be used once a month, as too much protein can actually have a counter-effect on hair and make it weaker.

Products for Relaxed Hair

When washing relaxed hair, use gentle moisturizing shampoos made specifically for chemically-treated hair. Paul Mitchell carries several products for chemically-treated hair, such as the brand's Awapuhi Moisturizing Lather Shampoo (about $20.00), that will moisturize relaxed, damaged and chemically-treated hair. Cantu also has a moisturizing shampoo (about $5.00) made specifically for black hair that will benefit hair after relaxers.

You should also follow up your first shampoo with a deep-conditioning treatment, such as Paul Mitchell's The Masque (available for just over $20.00). This masque is full of vitamin E and made especially for chemically-treated hair. Make sure you concentrate the conditioning treatment on the ends of the hair and leave on for at least 10-15 minutes.

Washing Regimen for Relaxed Hair

After you wash relaxed hair for the first time, try to wait a week between each wash, if possible, to prolong the life of your relaxer. In the months following your relaxer treatment, you should continue to wash your hair with a gentle or moisturizing shampoo and then use a conditioning treatment. You should always rinse and repeat the shampooing process while washing your hair. Repeating the shampoo application is especially important if you have thick hair. It is important to remember relaxed hair is in a fragile state and should be handled very carefully. You should take the following precautions when you wash relaxed hair:

  • Make sure to comb hair completely with a wide tooth comb before applying shampoo. This will detangle and remove any knots.
  • Never vigorously scrub your hair while shampooing, or put your hair in a ball on top of your head, as this can cause breakage and knot up your hair.
  • Never rub hair dry with a towel. Squeeze out excess water and pat dry with a soft towel and then use a t-shirt or paper towel to squeeze out excess water. This will prevent damage and minimize frizz.

If you feel your hair looks dry in between washes, apply a leave-in conditioner instead of over-washing. You don't need to wash out leave-in conditioning treatments, meaning they can provide hair with all-day moisture in-between washes.

The Right Hair Care

Relaxers can be an effective method of getting difficult-to-style hair straight, sleek and more manageable. However, it can be very damaging to hair, especially if you do the treatment too often. It is important not to wash relaxed hair too often as it will prevent the treatment from lasting as long as it should. The right care will keep your relaxer from fading and keep your hair healthy and beautiful.

Washing Your Hair After Relaxers