Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Thermal Straightening & Relaxers

Q: I have had my hair thermally straightened. In early February, I tried a cheaper solution, and had a relaxer - a couple weeks later I had a color added. The relaxer has not given me the results I had hoped for - I know I need to just use the thermal straightening. How soon can I do the thermal straightening over the relaxer/color?
A: Since you have already had the thermal straightening treatment once, I presume that you have one of the hair types that are recommended for Thermal Straightening. Since African-American hair is not recommended for this procedure and most of the users of "relaxers" are African-American, there is a dearth of available information on the suitability of performing Thermal Straightening over a relaxer.
I do know, however, that Thermal Straightening requires a competent operator to evaluate the hair prior to performing the procedure. Thermal Straightening can be tricky with hair that is colored (especially lightened) and chemically treated by other processes.
Most relaxers use hydroxides and are very damaging to the hair. They straighten the hair by destroying the chemical side bonds in the hair shaft. Hair that has also been lightened will have had peroxides and bleaching agents applied to the hair to disperse the color molecules in the hair. Between these two processes you can experience a significant amount of structural damage to the hair. You need someone who is very familiar with the way Thermal Straightening affects the hair to advise you as to whether (and when) you can safely have the process done to your hair.
While the Thermal Straightening is a breakthrough process and in the majority of cases gives dramatically good results, in those instances where the process goes wrong (mostly because of operator error) the results can be equally devastating. I cannot stress enough the importance of seeking a certified, competent operator for this procedure.
Related posts:
Hair straightening and thermal reconditioning
How to identify damaged hair
How safe would it be to straighten colored hair?
Can healthy color-treated hair survive being straightened?