Overprocessed Hair

African-American woman with finely-textured hair
Q: I have finely textured, African-American hair. For the past year when I get it relaxed (every 8 to 10 weeks) it does not seem to be taking to the relaxer, or in other words getting straight. The edges don't look shiny, and the back of my hair where it is the thickest remains kinky and unmanageable.
I cannot wear it down because it holds no curl. It is, however getting more fine and thin. Because it is fine, it is easy to blow out and get straight with a hot iron or curling iron (more so in the front than the back), but it is not the same as when my hair would take to a re-laxer.
Has my hair been overprocessed? What do I need to do? Would you suggest going real short (which I do not object to doing)?

A: If you suspect that your hair is becoming overprocessed, you should definitely consider giving your hair a break. The fact that the hair won't hold a curl is a good indicator that the hair is not only becoming overprocessed, but may be damaged as well.
The two options (as I see them) are:
ONE: subjecting your hair to a strict regimen of conditioning and care while you let new hair grow, and slowly trim away the overprocessed portions. If you can achieve acceptable straight hair results using heat appliances, and want to keep straight hairstyles for a while, this would be a good option. Keeping as much length as possible would allow you more versatility in styling.
TWO: cutting the hair to remove the overprocessed portions and letting your natural hair grow in until you reach a length that allows you to resume styling it the way you want. The benefit with this option is that it allows you to have the more immediate results of healthier-looking hair through the removal of the damaged portions.
Photo: LTim/Shutterstock
See also:
Overprocessed hair
Deep conditioning
Permanent hair straightening
African hair Q&A