When you determine what process is right for your hair type, or the style you are trying to achieve, you then have to build your hair-care routine around the treatments you subject it to. A chemical process alone doesn't make beautiful hair-it's the process paired with the right hair-care regimen that is the real secret. Before undergoing any chemical treatment, be it color or perm or relaxer, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Be absolutely honest with your stylist about what's been done to your hair before. Previous treatments affect not only the health of your hair but also how your hair responds to a new process. Apprise your hairdresser of anything you have done to your hair during the past two years. The longer your hair, the more likely it still bears the effects of those treatments. Henna, for example, adds a coating to the hair, so getting a perm is more difficult since the extent to which the hair will absorb the chemicals is limited.
A good hairstylist will give you a thorough consultation before any chemical treatment is done. One of the main objectives of a consultation is for the hairstylist to assess your halr's overall health. If your hair is damaged, or you are growing out a prior chemical treatment, your stylist may suggest waiting a few months or undergoing regular deep-conditioning regimens to return your hair to a healthier state before proceeding with a new treatment. If that is the case, take the advice and wait until your hair is healthy before getting the procedure.
The stylist will also assess your hair type. Hair type generally refers to the thickness, hydration level, and texture of your natural hair, and whether or not you have gray hair. These elements should all be taken into consideration before going ahead with any chemical treatments that will alter the texture or color of your hair, since certain types may be resistant to texture or color changes.
Review what follow-up treatments you will need to undergo after the procedure. Changes may include a new shampoo and conditioner for permed or colored hair. Also, hair loses nutrients after a perm, so ask your stylist about conditioning treatments required to return the hair to its optimal, healthy state.
Always do a strand test before chemically treating hair. You can do it at home or have the hairdresser do it. Remove a strand of hair from your head. Pull on it from both ends. If the hair breaks easily, it has little elasticity and any chemical work will cause it to break further.
Talk to your hairdresser about special circumstances that need to be taken into consideration. Salt water, for example, tends to revert relaxed hair, and a sun-drenched week at the beach can change the hair color you just spent a fortune on at the salon. A good hairstylist will tell you how to deal with these changes and the necessary precautions to take.
The frequency with which you wash your hair may have to change after any chemical treatment is done. Shampooing relaxed, permed, or colored hair strips it of protective oils and moisture. Unless you have extremely fine, thin hair that is also very oily, chemically treated hair should be washed no more than every three to four days.
Conversely, the amount of conditioning you do to your hair may have to increase. Conditioning the hair every day, either through the frequent application of a leave-in conditioner or by using hairdressing creams and moisturizing products during styling, may be recommended. Even hermanas who have fine, oily hair that is colored or permed may need extra conditioning on the ends.
Tell your hairdresser if you are taking birth-control pills, because they can affect chemical treatments.
Definitely tell your hairdresser if you are pregnant and intend to breastfeed.
Some women naturally have more than one texture to their hair. Nelson Barreto of New York City's Ene Hair Salon suggests you speak to your stylist about the best way to deal with combination hair, or hair that is both curly and straight. Options include giving a curly perm to the straight sections or to relax the curly sections. Either choice will affect how much time you spend styling your hair as well as the haircare regimen, so be sure to think about it before deciding.