I found this great article by Sistalick about how to prep hair before getting a relaxer and I wanted to pass this on.
A relaxer touch-up is a very critical step in hair care...one wrong move and all of your progress can go down the drain. I'm still a little nervous about doing my own touch-up...but I'm also nervous about going to the salon. No-one is more gentle with my hair then myself. So...I'm still pretty sure I will self-relax.
At first, I was going to wash, do a protein treatment, detangle and so forth a week before my relaxer. But now, I will be doing that 3 days before. This is probably better for me, because my newgrowth is getting tangled very easily, so I could just imagine the tangles I would get on relaxer day if I waited a week before the touch-up to detangle my hair. Also, I want to work out and not mess up my whole fitness routine :-)
Getting Ready to Relax_How to prepare
Prepping the Hair:
First and foremost, only begin the relaxer process with hair that is in tip top shape. Many of us say: Oh my hair is breaking...or shedding let me go ahead relax it! But, you must understand that you are taking a huge gamble with your hair health by proceeding with a chemical relaxer application on compromised hair.
Never relax your hair to "solve" a hair problem. You should always correct the problem first with the proper treatment.
Your 4 Step Pre-Relaxer Game Plan
Preparing your hair for a relaxer is one of the best things you can do for your hair heath.You can follow these pre and post relaxer strategies whether you self relax or see a stylist for your chemical treatments. Ensuring your hair is in top physical condition prior to the relaxer service will give you better results with the finished product.
Step 1: Clean it Up!
Your final shampooing should take place on the last 3-5 days before your relaxer. At this wash (particularly if you desire a straighter, more thoroughly processed result), you should use a clarifying shampoo to remove any deposits or product buildup on the hair. (I don't want my hair to be bone straight anymore, so I will be just washing with normal shampoo)
Step 2: Toughen it up!
You should treat your hair to a protein treatment the final wash before your relaxer. Follow up the treatment with a good moisturizing deep conditioning. Giving your hair a protein treatment in the days leading up to your relaxer application gives your hair little more protein to work with going into the relaxer.
This prevents the relaxing process from totally compromising the strength of your hair when your inner protein bonds are manipulated. (This is a very necessary step that I never did in the past. So glad I learned and am learning more about hair care.)
Step 3: Protect It!
The day of relaxer, pay special attention to the length and ends of your hair. The hair shaft and ends are especially vulnerable to damage from the relaxing process unless you protect them. Applying a light coating of something like olive oil, castor oil, a thick conditioner, grease or vaseline to your scalp and hair past the new growth prevents the rest of your hair from being "re-relaxed" as a result of overlapping and runoff during the final rinsing of the relaxer. (I spoke about this in previous posts)
Step 4: Stand Test It!
Perform a strand test before applying any relaxer (or hair coloring chemicals) to your hair, even if you have previously used the chemical in question. Our bodies change, and so does our tolerance and allergies to certain products. (hmmm...never did this before..But I think I will try this for my next relaxer)