Caring for Texlaxed Hair

Texlaxing: A New Way to Relax Hair

 

If you have fine hair that falls flat when relaxed or straightened, or are looking for a healthier way to achieve straighter hair, texlaxing might be the thing for you.

Texlaxing is a relatively new term and technique of straightening hair, coined by the internet black hair community. It involves using a relaxer with the goal of purposefully under-processing or ‘under-relaxing’ African and black hair, leaving it as healthy as possible while making it easy to achieve a straight relaxer look. The term ‘texlaxing’ is derived from a cross of 2 chemical treatment terms; texturising and relaxing.

The aim is not to relax the hair bone straight (which isn’t healthy anyway) but around 50%-75%, depending on how much straightness you wish to achieve (Texturisers usually achieve a 40%-50% straightening, while using a relaxer allows you to achieve more straightness). This loosens the curl enough that you can straighten it easily with a good roller set, blow dry or flat iron, while leaving a lot of body and elasticity in the hair. Texlaxing allows you to keep a little bit of texture and thickness in your hair, without going fully natural. For some, it is easier to manage, and allows more versatility in hairstyles than bone straight relaxed hair.

How do you Texlax?

There are many methods for texlaxing the hair, and most center on reducing initial disulfide bond breakage in the hair fiber. Disulfide bonds are the bonds that cause our hair to have a naturally curly or kinky texture. Breaking these bonds prepares them for straightening in the smoothing stage of the relaxer. Texlaxing methods can be used alone or in combination to achieve various degrees of textured, relaxed hair results.

1. Downgrading your relaxer.
Reducing disulfide bond breakage by downgrading the strength of your relaxer is the easiest method for texlaxing the hair. Reducing your relaxer strength from a super or regular formula to a mild or sensitive scalp formula (or even going from lye to no-lye) will increase the amount of time required for full processing. This will give you more time to quickly apply your relaxer, and then rinse before enough bond breakage has occurred to really straighten the hair.

2. Decreasing Relaxer Contact
One of the easiest methods for texlaxing the hair is simply decreasing the relaxer’s contact with your hair. Simply put, reduce your processing time! This method works when all other texlaxing methods fail. In fact, this method is perhaps the number one cause of unintentional texlaxing and under-processing. Processing the hair for a time less than the recommended time will always texlax your hair.

3. Putting up a Barrier
Applying a thick cream or oil barrier to the hair prior to relaxing will protect it from damage and slow down the action of the relaxer. By slowing the relaxer down with a heavy, protective base (such as products containing petrolatum, or heavy oils), you can still relax your hair for the normal suggested time period for your hair type without fully straightening the hair. Reducing relaxer contact with the hair reduces overall bond breakage and helps the hair maintain a little extra texture. Basing the scalp should be done anyway with a relaxer, but applying a little extra to the scalp AND new growth will give you extra protection and time to process.

4. Diluting your relaxer
Similar to downgrading the actual relaxer formula strength, adding oils or conditioner to your relaxer formula also decreases the strength of the relaxer and increases the processing window. This texlaxing dilution method also works by reducing the viscosity (thickness) of the relaxer crème. The relaxer crème’s thick, pasty consistency helps the hair remain fairly straight after the disulfide bonds have been broken during chemical application. Oils and conditioners reduce this straightening power by making the crème less thick so that the curls are not weighed down and flattened as easily by the relaxer. If you decide to add oil to your relaxer, add a little at a time and check the consistency of your formula. Do not make the formula too runny or soupy; some thickness is desired! Around 1/4 cup of oil (e.g. extra virgin olive oil) works well with a small, single use relaxer tub. Also avoid using essential oils (like peppermint and rosemary) in the relaxer… you don’t want anything tingling or stimulating your scalp while the relaxer is there nearby.

Another variation of relaxer dilution can be done with no-lye relaxer formulas where a separate activator must be added to the relaxer crème. Adding only 3/4 or 1/2 of the activator to the formula automatically reduces the relaxer’s strength. Remember, no-lye relaxers are inert (not active) and cannot work on the hair until they are mixed. Portions of the relaxer that are not mixed with activator will not process your hair.

5. Skipping Disulfide Bond Straightening
Contrary to popular belief, hair straightening does not begin and end with the application of the relaxer. The relaxer chemical simply breaks your hair’s disulfide bonds; the smoothing step is where your hair and its bonds are straightened into their new, permanent position. So a texlaxing method that takes advantage of this concept would simply involve you applying the chemical relaxer, and allowing it to process without physically manipulating (smoothing) the hair into place. Skipping the smoothing step of the relaxer application prevents the disulfide bonds from fully straightening into a new, permanently straight bond orientation.

 

 

*Gotten from Audrey Davis-Sivasothy’s article; “How to Texlax Your Hair: Simple Texlaxing Techniques and Tips”

 

Care for Texlaxed Hair

When making the transition from relaxed to texlaxed hair, you will find that you might have to make a few changes from your relaxed hair care routine. The transition to texlaxed hair is a bit trickier than the transition to natural hair, as you are now working with 3 different textures, as opposed to 2 (your relaxed ends, your texlaxed hair, and your new growth). This means dealing with 2 lines of demarcations where the 3 textures meet, making your hair more prone to breakage at these weak points. The same care methods for relaxed hair still apply here, but some of the techniques used by those transitioning to natural hair will also serve you well with transitioning and caring for texlaxed hair. Here are some points to consider:

1. Keep all textures moisturised and strong. You will find that your texlaxed hair would need a lot more moisture than your relaxed hair, because of its thicker and stronger texture. You may have to adjust your moisturising routine (and maybe even your products) a bit to ensure that your texlaxed hair stays hydrated. Cowashing, regular deep conditioning, and daily moisturising do help to keep all textures happy. Do note that you need some protein treatments to keep your hair strong at the line of demarcation. If you are protein sensitive, use a light protein conditioner.

2. Find products that suit your new texture. This might involve using the trial and error method, which can turn out to be time consuming and expensive. The most important thing with any transition is finding the right products to make your hair manageable. Manageable hair means less breakage, which will make your transition easier and less frustrating.

3. Wash your hair in sections. As with natural hair, washing your hair in sections makes detangling easier. Divide hair into 2, 4, or as many parts as you wish, and concentrate on washing, conditioning, and detangling one section at a time. This helps to reduce breakage from tangling, and saves you a lot of pain.

4. Stick to low manipulation styles when deep in your stretch. When stretching between your relaxers, you don’t want to manipulate your hair too much when you are deep in your stretch, since your hair could break at two points instead of one (where the NG meets the texlaxed hair AND where the texlaxed hair meets the relaxed hair). Low manipulation styles include, weaves, braids, wigs, braid outs, buns, etc. It cannot be overstressed how BAD glues of any kind are for your hair and scalp. Avoid styles involving this method at all cost.

5. Keep your ends trimmed. Split ends tend to tangle around each other, which makes detangling even more tedious and time consuming. You will notice a marked decrease in the time it takes to detangle when you trim away those bad ends. If you are looking for length as well as health, try not to go scissors happy on your hair, or you will lose unnecessary inches of hair. About 1/4 an inch every few months should do for upkeep.

6. Be patient with your hair. Washing your hair will be a longer process, and detangling will be tedious, but be patient with your hair. Comb the knots and tangles out carefully, starting from the ends and working your way up to the roots. Resist the urge to tear through them when you get tired. Be sure you have the time to devote to adequately detangle your hair, to avoid matted hair mid-week.