Phenomenal . . .

Phenomenal . . .
Life, Growth, and Connection (This sunflower was nourished by my hands.) 2010; Photography by Benita Blocker. Please become a follower of this blog.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Coloring Relaxed hair: What you should know!

So you are thinking about coloring your hair? First of all, If you have black, relaxed type 4b or type 4c hair, then do not even think about coloring your hair unless you are planning to maintain a short hairstyle. No exceptions. If you want to color any gray hair coming in from amongst your natural black, long, relaxed hair, then a "natural black" semi-permanent (no mixing) squeeze bottle brand of color will have to do or consider going gray.

Now, that we got that initial category of people who should not color their hair, let's talk technical about the haircoloring process.

Pictured are three developers. 10 volume developer gives one level of lift to the hair. 20 volume developer gives two levels of lift to the hair. 30 volume developer gives three levels of lift to the hair. 40 volume developer gives four levels of lift to the hair. The 40 volume developer is not shown in the picture because I do not offer 40 volume lift as a hair service. Why? If you want to maintain healthy hair, 3 levels of lift is the most lift in one setting that you can achieve and maintain healthy, non-relaxed hair. If you have Type 3, long, relaxed hair, then 15 volume developer is the highest developer level that you can use to maintain healthy, long relaxed hair in one setting.

So how do you get 15 volume developer? Mix 10 volume and 20 volume developers in equal parts to achieve a 15 volume strength. Some hair classes say 20 volume developer is safe for relaxed hair. Yes, this is true if you are planning to maintain a short hairstyle. As the hair gets longer, relaxed hair with 20 volume lift can get tempermental and break easily. I would not risk the 20 volume developer for clients desiring length.

Not sure what curl pattern you are and you are considering color? Here's a rule of thumb to go by: If you need a regular strength relaxer and your roots (new growth) are tight within six weeks or less, then you do not need to experiment with haircolor. Once the hair is lifted, a mild relaxer is the only relaxer strength that needs to be used to prevent breakage.

Also, pictured are activating lotions for demi-permanent haircolor. Please treat demi-permanent hair color like permanent haircolor as far as the rules for experimenting with color or not. Let me be clear: Demi-permanent color is not strong enough in general to lift hair to any level, but the peroxide in the lotion is what can cause kinkier hair types to become vulnerable to breakage.

Some demi-permanent haircolor can be used on the same day as the relaxer for Type 3 and some Type 4a hair types only. The processing time is 10 to 15 minutes MAX including application. However, remember Type 3 and Type 4a clientele are going to be receiving a mild relaxer anyway.

So if you are receiving a regular strength relaxer, then a no-mix brand of color is the only option for you on the same day as a relaxer. I do not care what the hairstylist was told in the color class where they are trying to sell their color line. If you are a regular strength or a super strength relaxer client, no demi-permanent color for you on relaxer day nor any other day if you want to grow your length out.

Double processed hair means the same hair strand is processed with two chemicals. (Color and relaxer) Kinky hair becomes vulnerable to breakage when double processed.

So if you have "kinky" hair and you see a lot of sistas with beautiful haircolor walking down the street? Feel free to stop them. Don't ask them who does their hair. Why? Because their hair may not be kinky. However, do ask them if they get a mild relaxer or not? and how often? If they are every six to twelve weeks, then they do not have kinky hair to start with. Their hair may not be like yours. If you find that you have the same type of hair, then ask for their hairstylist information.

In my opinion, it is a myth that most Black women have kinky Black hair. In my years of doing hair, I have found that half of the Black women in the US really do not have truly kinky, Black hair. What? Yes. I am serious. There is a lot of mixed hair out there.

Most of the hair care manufacturers are always showcasing Black women, but these Black women nine times out of ten do not represent a kinky hair, Black woman. They look like "Black women," and they are probably considered "Black" as far as race is concerned, but their hair is NOT the "kinky head of hair" that most Black women would call "real Black hair."

Let me clarify. I am not being discriminatory. In fact, many of my long hair clientele are Type 3, mixed hair. Early in my hairstyling career, I felt that what was working for Type 3 hair should be working for my "kinkier, Type 4 hair" clients. Not the right answer. In fact, it was not until I was able to compare my notes on different clients that I started seeing the common thread of what worked and when it worked. It all became clear. The natural curl pattern is the deciding factor in what can be done with haircolor and conditioner choices.

Actually, the hair care product lines are just starting to really understand Type 4, kinky hair. Thank God so many Black women started going back to their kinky, natural hair. It really forced product makers to deal with "real, Black hair." In all honesty, Type 3 hair is easier to work with natural or relaxed. It is a low maintenance curl pattern. Type 4 hair is where women are constantly fighting to control their hair. Naturally, kinky hair is stronger, but it is harder to control for styling purposes. Relaxing kinky hair makes it vulnerable because of the strength of relaxer needed to control it. So again, regular locs and sisterlocs can easily be the "go to option" where you have no limits on haircolor because there is no relaxer involved with locking hair.

I know this article started out on haircolor. So in summary, Type 3 hair and some Type 4a hair that are happy with a mild strength relaxer have very few limitations with haircolor options. Kinky hair, type 4b and type 4c, should not experiment with haircolor unless you are natural or wearing locs.

Also, let me add a message to hairstylists in general: Hairstylists that do not have "traditional kinky hair" need to know that what works for their "non-kinky" hair will not always work on Type 4 kinky hair. Hopefully, this message is received in a loving manner. I am not trying to be a "hater." God made all of us for a purpose.

Personally, I have kinky, resistant hair. It has been a "pain in my rear end," but now, that I have eliminated flat irons, sensitive scalp relaxers, permanent haircolor, keratin treatments, relaxer alternatives, heavy wigs and daily use of heating tools, (did I forget anything? Smile) I think that I finally have a regimen that will work!


  1. Another important note: When changing from 20 volume to 15 volume developer, you may find that your color results are a little darker. So you may have to use a color shade one level lighter in order to get your usual desired color results. Example: Color 5N with 20 volume developer delivers similar results as Color 6N with 15 volume developer.

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  3. I am currently transitioning and I want to color some of my relaxed hair before I have all natural hair. I only had about 3 relaxers total. Is it okay if I lighten and color my hair?

    1. Hi Zabi! I am just catching up with comments. Once hair is relaxed, it is considered processed so use caution with lifting. If you have type 4c hair, I don't recommend two chemicals.