EXCLUSIVE: Relaxer Tips from Will Williams

Will Williams is a master level hair stylist and barber as well as the Director of Education at M&M Products Company, the parent company of Sofn'free GroHealthy. Here he shares his tips on prevent relaxer irritation, including one interesting question I've never had asked by any stylist. Williams also explains how you can prevent irritation even if you've been scratching your scalp pre-relaxer.
William asks, "have you had any anesthesia (local or general) since your last visit or in the last 3 weeks?" and "have you used any permanent hair color since I last saw you?"

I never even thought that anesthesia would have an effect on the hair, and this is important for all you ladies out there who wait until after delivering your baby (with an epidural or via c/s) to get a relaxer. Williams explains that anesthesia and permanent hair color can, "mean that your hair is structurally compromised and the relaxer should be delayed until the medications is removed by shampooing. In the case of permanent color we need to wait until new growth appears that hasn't been colored or relaxed before applying relaxer."

Williams also digs deeper, wanting to know from a client if she has been scratching unintentionally (removing dandruff flakes, targeting an itch with a comb, pen, pencil or other pointed item). Even including, wanting to know if she brushes the hairline trying to hold it down so the new growth of the hairline doesn't appear to be out of texture with the more relaxed look of the interior. These are ways to irritate the scalp without even realizing that you've been doing so. If you have been irritating your scalp without knowing it, Williams takes special care to base the entire scalp.

Williams continues the questioning, "If she tells me she doesn't scratch or brush or didn't shampoo vigorously in the last three days, I ask if she inadvertently scratches her scalp in her sleep. That's my "trick question" to make sure I better understand the condition of her scalp."

Then offers up some assistance for the problem: "For women I know who have a chronic itch/scratch cycle, I recommend a pre-shampoo treatment the week prior to relaxer. This helps to guard against the de-fatting of the scalp during the relaxer service. Naturally, I recommend the oil that you like in our lineup, Sofn'free GroHealthy Three-Layer Growth Oil. Just saturate the scalp, massage gently, let it set for at least five minutes (more if you like to penetrate the scalp and reach sub-dermal areas) to keep the scalp calm during the week before relaxer. Also, our Three-Layer Growth Oil or Strengthening Creme can be used on the scalp prior to salon visit the day before or even the day of the relaxer to help guard against possible scalp dryness and de- fatting."

The big message: Always cover the scalp with base protection, because the same process that is reducing curls in the hair is also reducing corresponding elements in the skin.