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You don’t want to give up those silky, relaxed locks, but sometimes it seems like the pain isn’t worth the gain. Split ends and breakage are common problems with chemically treated hair, because the process breaks the bonds within your hair shaft. But you can fight back! And it's all about smart, gentle hair care, really.
Limit how often you shampoo. Shampoo strips moisture from your hair, and that weakens it and leads to breakage. Choose a cleanser for your hair type, which is chemically treated; the wrong shampoo may dull your strands or not provide the moisture your hair needs to stay strong. Opt for sulfate-free moisturizing formulas that are pH-balanced.
Rehydrate your hair with a leave-in conditioner every time you shampoo. If a leave-in conditioner makes your hair feel heavy or limp, look for one with lifting or volumizing properties.
Avoid combs, brushes and accessories that hurt your hair. If you're still using the fine-toothed comb your mama used to rake through your tresses, throw it out! Pick tools with wide teeth and soft bristles to avoid ripping, and do away with rubbery ponytail holders and tight clips.
For some serious hair therapy, use a deep conditioner twice monthly. Deep conditioners, which you can buy at your salon or drugstore, go beyond regular conditioners to strengthen the hair shaft and trap in moisture. For a natural solution, massage warm olive, coconut or peppermint oil into hair.
Every night, wrap your hair in a silk or satin scarf or hair wrap designed for relaxed tresses. Friction against your pillow causes breakage, so don’t give your hair an excuse to split as you sleep!
Cut down on heat styling, or make a commitment to protect your mane before you do. There’ s a product for every preference -- silicone heat guard serum, protective mousse or heat protective spray. You can even buy leave-in conditioner with SPF to guard your hair from sun damage.
Trust a stylist with your tresses rather than relaxing them yourself. A trained pro will use the right level of relaxer, which should be just enough to do the trick without harming your hair. She may even be able to relax just the topmost layer of your hair, allowing the underside to grow back naturally and gain some strength.
Have you thought about going natural? If it’s been years since your natural texture has seen the light of day, you might want to give it a shot -- there are tons of products that soften curly and coarse textures without the stress and expense of getting a relaxer every few months.