Relaxer Rehab: My First Professional Hair Relaxer
Three words I'd typically use to describe my hair would be boring, fragile, and dull. I rarely get haircuts and I almost always wear my hair in a ponytail (I made a rare exception for my "before" photo). I've had some pretty bad salon experiences in the past, so the thought of letting someone cut my hair, let alone apply a relaxer, has always felt risky and not worth the money. But when the beauty editors approached me about a hair makeover, I knew that I would be in good hands, so I let them sign me up for my first professional hair relaxer.
They scheduled an appointment for me at Phyto Universe, a New York City hair salon that specializes in treatments for curly, frizzy, and relaxed hair. I've been relaxing my hair since I was little -- my father is African American and my mother is Puerto Rican, and I think she thought it was best for me at the time. These days the natural hair movement is bigger than ever, and I'll admit that sometimes I wish I knew more about my natural texture, but right now the idea of transitioning my hair seems like a daunting task. So until I'm ready for that, I want to find a better way to make my relaxed hair as healthy as possible. I've been using store-bought relaxers at home for years and it's been okay, but I want to put more effort into taking better care of my hair.
My stylist for the appointment was Ron Williams, the national educator for Phytospecific (the salon's product brand) and he immediately put me at ease. It also didn't hurt that the salon space is gorgeous with beautiful lighting and plants all around -- it was practically like being at the spa. Ron started by asking me how I typically do my hair, and I could tell he was excited to show me how not-scary getting a relaxer can be. And I'm happy to say he was right!
The steps for the relaxer itself actually weren't so different from what I do at home, but Ron was much more thorough. He took his time and the products he used were much gentler on my scalp. I'm sure experienced salon-goers are thinking, "Duh! Of course everything's nicer at the salon," but this was a big change for me. When I relax my hair on my own I usually panic about how long the relaxer is on my head and making sure I've completely rinsed out the product, but having someone else handle it was so much better.
Ron also shared some great tips with me during my appointment. Among his recommendations were deep conditioning my hair once a week, using a night cream for hair like Phyto's Ultra-Repair Night Treatment, sleeping on 800 thread count sheets to minimize breakage, and calling the customer service phone number on your relaxer kit for help if you need it (really!).
When I left Phyto, my hair looked better than it has in years. But I'm a girl on a budget, so I won't always be able to shell out the money to get professional relaxers every two months. The difference now is that I understand the value in it, and whether your hair is relaxed or natural, it's important to invest in your hair care. We all deserve a "treat yourself" moment every now and then! Ron totally restored my trust in hair stylists, but I was also happy to hear that Phyto sells an at-home relaxer kit that I look forward to trying for myself.
The three words I'd use to describe my hair now? Strong, healthy, and beautiful. I definitely plan to let my hair down more often.