Relaxers, Perms and Hair Straightening Hair Tips

Question: Before buying your book I made the terrible mistake of using permanent hair color. My hair is relaxed, how long should I wait before getting another retouch? The strands of my hair are very brittle, before they were very elastic and strong. Will my hair always be this color and condition?

Answer: Stop the breakage first - then treat the hair with protein to strengthen it. The permanent color will be a problem until it is gone in most cases especially when you put the relaxer on it. When you color and use a relaxer ensure you use a product that does not contain peroxide or ammonia. Use Bigen – that’s what I use. The only problem with colors that don’t use peroxide or ammonia is you will not be able to lighten the hair. Lightening has to strip the color and then a lighter color is put on. The condition of your hair depends on how you take care of it. You can improve the condition by applying my hair care methods and products.

Question: I've relaxed for years now and am tiring of it. I used Avlon's Thio products years ago and would like to start using their relaxers now (especially since you use it). When on their website, I found that they sell a moisturizer also. Have you used their moisturizer at all?

Answer: I do hope you don’t intend to relax hair that has been already been processed with a thio product!!!! If you do, you will experience major breakage! These products do not work together and will destroy the hair. I have not used their moisturizing products because they too contained protein from my last review of them.

Question: Up until last year, I did not have a perm, but it got very hot here (90-110 for two month straight) and I made a decision to perm my hair. Yes, I had a lot of damage to my hair after switching from a child's relaxer to a regular relaxer. Now, I am going back to pressing my hair. Do you think that women who do not perm their hair can grow long hair successfully while pressing it?

Answer: First let me say that you did 1 thing wrong that I discuss in my book. You applied a "kiddie perm" thinking it was not as strong as a regular relaxer then you put a regular relaxer over the "kiddie perm". One thing that I tell people is that you CAN NOT change products without expecting to have some problems. You caused the breakage in your hair because of choices you made. When you decide on a product, stick with it. Some products were not designed to work together!

Yes- Women who press their hair can grow long hair successfully if you remember you have dry hair, no matter how you style it, it requires moisture! Hair is hair, in that the chemical composition of all hair is the same. It is the characteristics of hair that make it different. The texture, color, curl etc.

The main problem that over 80% of the Black population has is a dry hair condition. My system is a moisture balance system that alleviates dry hair that breaks. It is going to be a little harder to have straight pressed hair when you have to moisturize every day. I would recommend a crème moisturizer unless you want to spend a lot of time pressing to keep it straight, which means a lot of heat which I do not recommend!

Question: What is your opinion on the Willie Morrow, Naturalaxer, Bodiphier type products that loosen the curl enough to be manageable?

Answer: I have no opinion on the Willie Morrow, Naturalaxer, Bodiphier type products because I have never used, nor have I heard of the product, nor will I use them in the future because I dont advise changing chemicals. The relaxer chemical I used to use was Affirm and only a licensed hair dresser is supposed to be able to obtain it. I used Affirm for over 10 years and only TRIED to change a couple of times (unsuccessfully) only to return.

Question: I choose to hot comb my hair because I feel relaxers damage the hair awfully. Second I am a guy so I figured hot combing was a little more manly, but what kind of relaxer would you recommend? I have thought about relaxing my hair, but I don't really know of any particular name brands to try. I mean I don't want to look like a female. I want a relaxer that doesn't make my hair too, too straight. If you know of one or how to get the results I want please feel free to inform me.

Answer: I am delighted that men also want to use my products! Relaxers are damaging if you don't apply them properly or do not maintain your hair after using them. Hair is hair so my products do not discriminate against guys.

From your emails, I think you really want a texturizer as opposed to a relaxer. Relaxers straighteners and texturizers only loosen the curl. The only relaxer I recommend is Affirm. You cannot get it unless you are a hairdresser. But one last thing, if you feel comfortable using the hot comb, ensure it is not one you place on a burner.

Question: I love your book and I am faithfully following your moisture balance system and using your Ultra Black Hair Conditioner and Silky Spray moisturizer. Could you please recommend a good relaxer for my Type 4 hair. I am currently using the Mizani relaxer system and even after using the curling iron within a few hours my hair loses the curl and looks frizzy. I would also like your views on using a heat protecting cream or spray like Heatsafe when using a blow dryer or electric flat iron.

Answer: Thanks for the compliment you gave my book. As far as a good relaxer, I only used 1 and I used that one for over 12 years and refused to change to another – It was the Affirm. It is great for my Type 4 hair type and I loved it. I found no other that I like better - plus I am serious about not changing my chemicals.

I never used Mizani but I have gotten calls from customers who swear by it. As far as the frizzes, that could be caused by the blow-dryer or too much iron curling. I am not familiar with "Heatsafe" but I really recommend not using the blow-dryer too often. My Silky Spray moisturizer also works well at smoothing the hair when used with the flat iron. Also if you are using my conditioner with the Mizani, you might try and alternate their conditioner with mine to see if that helps. My product might be conflicting with theirs.

Question: Is it wise to get a relaxer while my hair is real dry and brittle or should I try your conditioner for at least one year and see if the dryness has disappeared, and they try a relaxer? In the pass my hair has always come out after a relaxer was put on it. What do you think I should do? Will you please help?

Answer: It is VERY unwise to get a relaxer on damaged hair. I would recommend you go to Sally's Beauty Supply and get a protein treatment to stop the brittleness. Use this on your hair for about 3-4 weeks in addition to your conditioning treatments, and then see what your hair is like afterwards. Your hair should be stronger. Also if you are not using Affirm as your relaxer, I would also recommend you find a hairdresser that does. Hope this helps!

Question: . Hello Cathy first I want to say that I have your book and have read it a trillion times. It has very valuable information in it that I did not know and opened eyes to a lot of things like you said really are common sense. Also I have figured out why for many years I had no success because of what I was doing wrong. Thank You! Also I have a question just to see what you think I should do. I am currently pregnant in the last trimester and during the time of being this way I tried not to put too many chemicals in it out of fear that my hair would fall out. Do you think its ok to get a relaxer application during this time? Because I have gone so long without one my hair has grown a tremendous amount but lately I have started to notice a small amount of breakage not too bad where I would have to get it cut but I don't want it to get to that point I know it’s because of the different hair textures from not having it touched up in a while. Do you think its ok for me to touch up the roots or should I just get a braided hair style until after my baby is born. I have come so far with my journey and I hate to have to start from square one.

Answer: Thank you for the compliment on my book. I am glad you found it helpful! Relaxers during pregnancy have no effect on the pregnancy. If a chemical was being absorbed quickly into your head such as a relaxer then we'd all be in trouble. Unless you are experiencing some hormonal imbalance then your hair SHOULD NOT fall out with a retouch just because you are pregnant!

It could fall out if you go to a hairdresser that does the wrong thing like put a different chemical on than you are used to using on your hair! It could fall out if you neglect it after you have it done. It could fall out if you already have permanent color put on your hair with an ammonia base or peroxide and then apply the relaxer. It is not the relaxer that will cause the problems unless you have a hormonal imbalance that could cause a problem which is probably unlikely. If your hair is healthy and maintained as I believe you have, you should have no problems!

Question: I am scheduled for a re-touch tomorrow. I meant to ask before now how to prepare my hair for a retouch. I am tender-headed and the only product that works for me is Affirm Relaxer. Will any such preparation the day before irritate my scalp? I thought I read in your book something about you taking preventive measures to minimize the drying effects of relaxers.

Answer: Preparing your hair for a retouch - I used to do the following. About 2 weeks before a retouch I would do a deep conditioning and if there is too much breakage, I would do protein treatments. The day I went for the retouch, and the day before, I would put a creme moisturizer on my hair and especially the ends to make them soft. I also would not exercise for 24 hours before the retouch as the pores are opened to sweat and burning of the scalp can occur.

To minimize the drying effects of a relaxer comes AFTER the relaxer - not before- (If I did the retouch at home) normally after my retouch (which was usually on the weekend) I would not style my hair with heat at all for about the next 3-4 days. (no blow dryers, curling irons etc.) I would apply a creme moisturizer constantly, depending on how dry my hair felt. (If I was going to retouch at the salon) I would opt to have it styled (you know they use heat) If it was styled, the next week I would moisturize daily, but when I washed my hair as I normally would on Wednesday and the weekend, I would deep condition both days, followed by excess moisturizers, depending on how dry my hair feels.

Question: I did actually receive my book the same day I emailed you. I also read it from beginning to end. It's a great book with truthful information. I was told years ago that you did not have to clip your ends for your hair to grow. A hairdresser actually told me that... can you believe it? I'm really tired of relaxing my hair. Do you have any suggestions on how I might be able to grow it out naturally after the relaxer without massive breakage?

Answer: Thanks for the compliment on my book. Funny that some hairdressers know this while others are clueless! If, (and when because some day I probably will go back to natural) I would opt for twisting my hair. There are many great styles for twisted hair. My recommendation would be to wash and condition your hair as I recommend in the book, and twist it while it is wet. When it dries, I would opt for wearing the twist or untwist for a buzzed out curly style. I also would still opt for using the curling iron straightening technique with the Silky Spray to obtain a temporary straight style.

Question: Dear Cathy, I am writing you thanks to a friend I hadn't seen in years until yesterday. Her hair was always short, no more than three inches long. But when I saw her yesterday, it was touching her shoulders and was shiny and full of body. When I asked her how she did it she said "Cathy Howse." She told me that if I bought your book I could have the same results. I ordered your book the same day (side note: The girl in the bookstore said that someone else had just ordered the same book, so the word is spreading!) and on the advice of my friend I threw out my hair brush. She also told me that you would answer a couple questions I had (she had to run). What can I do for the next 10-14 days till my book arrives to help with the day to day grooming of my hair? Also, what causes sore or painful areas in the scalp? (not scalp burns) I usually get them right in the top of my head. Lastly, can a jar of relaxer lose its ability to straighten over time? I've noticed that my relaxer doesn't seem to straighten my new growth as well as it should. Thanks in advance, Cathy and I plan to send photos of my progress and I will share the good news of you with every black woman that I know!

Answer: When you see your friend again, thank her for sharing this information with you because in time black women around the world will understand the REAL requirements not a bunch of myths and ridiculous methods that obvious have not worked for decades regarding caring for our hair!

Your first question is one that is best answered by the book because it is a regimen that can be followed to success and I must ask that you please be patient as I could not do the system justice by trying to cram a brief outline in this email. It will only confuse you.

As far as what causes the sores on your scalp, will need to be identified by you when you read the book because 9 times out of 10 it is probably being caused by something you are doing wrong! I don't know what product you are using and I only recommend one relaxer. Sure there are many relaxers on the market but my experience has told me that Affirm is the best and you can not get it yourself if you are not a hairdresser which means you probably are buying some bulk product that I would never approve of anyway.

I regret that I have to put you off, but your questions will be best answered by the book. The UBH Growth II book is the most comprehensive hair care manual in the world on black hair that has ever been written! Please be patient. Once you read the book your eyes will be opened. After reading it, I can more directly answer your questions. Email me after you read it for more direct answers to your questions.

Question: I am so excited to read about your products, and I am going to order your book, conditioner and the moisturizer. I wear my hair natural, because I cannot wear a perm. Each time I put a perm on my hair it falls out. The only product that has helped my hair grow was a curly perm, but after using it for several months, it starts to break again. I have a disease called Sarcoid, according to my doctor it acts the opposite of Aids and builds up my immune system. I have been suffering from this for approximately 20 years and my hair started breaking around that time. I was wondering when I start using your products and my hair starts to grow if there is a perm that I can use on my hair that is mild or if there is something that I can straighten my hair with. I miss my long hair and once it starts to really grow I know it will become unruly.

Answer: Karen the breaking may or may not be caused by your medical condition and I suggest that it is how you are caring for your hair. After you read my book you should be able to diagnose what you are perhaps doing wrong. If it is growing and simply breaking you need products that improve your hair (my products will do). Also on the relaxer issue, may I suggest your problems may be because you did not know how to care for your hair when you had one. My book details the care for relaxed hair. Affirm Fiberguard relaxer can be mixed mild, normal or resistant. That is the only relaxer I used or recommended in the past when I used chemical relaxers.

Question: I'm 20 years old. I’ve been getting my hair relaxed for about 5 years now. I am considering letting my hair grow out but I don't want to cut it just yet because it took those five years to get my hair shoulder length. Can your book address my dilemma? I only have about one inch of new growth but want to keep my relaxed hair as long as possible without going through an awkward hair transition stage. Will your hair system work with my conflicting hair textures and keep both healthy enough until I am able to part with the relaxed hair?

Answer: Yes, my book will address your hair care concerns. I transitioned from chemical relaxers myself and my crème moisturizer and spray were very instrumental in helping to extend retouches by keeping the hair soft. You do not need to cut your hair, just ensure it stays soft whether you relax or go natural to keep it from breaking. The weakest point will be where the two different textures meet. You must keep this hair strong, and also soft to keep it on your head.

Question: I just read the book. I was just wondering how I should know what relaxer to use. I'm debating between Affirm, Mizini, and Dudley’s. I haven't had a professional relaxer in about four years and am out of the loop. I've inquired about Affirm at several salons and none of the beauticians seem to like it very much. They say they have had complaints from customers about it causing damage to their hair or it seems to not work in their hair after a year or so. Or do you think this is due to just bad upkeep or bad applications? Can you help me?

Answer: I only recommend Affirm as it is the only one I used for about 15 years so to say that it "doesn’t work after a few years" is just another lie perpetuated by the industry. I don’t believe the hairdressers who are saying there were problems with it either. If it was a problem, perhaps it was misapplied or perhaps the customer did not know how to maintain the hair after the relaxer. Don’t be fooled by them as they probably only have other products they want to use as opposed to the Affirm. The one you choose is ultimately up to you!

Question: I have been using Wave Nouveau (similar to Jerri curl) for several years, and would like to try your products. (My hair is oh-so-dry!) But I have a concern. Is it "safe" to use your products on my already over-processed hair?

Answer: My products will not negatively affect your hair and they actually help to improve our hair especially when it is over processed.

Question: I wear my hair in a curl and my ends tend to become tangled and they are dry. What would you suggest?

Answer: Use a product that improves the hairs condition. Try my Silky Spray moisturizer to detangle and to add moisture to your hair.

Question: What does it mean to texturize the hair? What is a texturizer?

Answer: A texturizer is a chemically much like a relaxer that does not completely straighten the hair but loosens the curl.

Question: I have recently ordered your book and products and am anxiously awaiting their arrival. I have had hair problems for several years now. Every time I get a relaxer, I get a bald spot in the back of my head about the size of a half dollar. I have been fortunate that although thin, it grows back after the relaxer has grown out. I have decided no more relaxers. Could you give me advice on what would have caused this?.

Answer: This balding spot could be caused from a number of things. It is hard to diagnosis when you don’t know what is being done. You might be able to identify the cause after you read my book. In most cases it is caused from the relaxer being smoothed against your head.

Question: I have my friend do my relaxers, and the chapter on chemicals is helpful to both of us, since we do EACH OTHER's relaxers. We are both on a budget. I know that I can trust her to trim my ends. I am glad to finally hear someone back up what I have been telling people about the fact that trimming CANNOT make hair GROW. Every time I cut my friend's hair she would say that it grew because I had cut it.

Answer: When I was relaxing my hair I wish I had someone like your friend to do my hair but I either have to do it myself or go to my hairdresser whom I trust and who does not do anything that I do not want. These people are few and far between.

Question: How long should I wait to get a relaxer?

Answer: The recommended interval for relaxer retouches is every 6 weeks. Because a relaxer is a chemical I always recommended to stretch them as long as possible before having them redone. If your hair is in bad condition wait until you have had about 6 weeks of treatments to strengthen the hair. If it is not breaking a lot, you should be safe to do one sooner but I really recommend the protein treatment BEFORE you relax.

Question: My hairdresser uses Revlon Fabulaxer, regular strength, and adds oil to make the mixture milder. Friends have suggested Mizani and Affirm Relaxers. I am not familiar with them. How are they different from the Revlon product?

Answer: I am not familiar with them. If Fabulaxer is working for you and you are not experiencing adverse problems from using the product and it works for you - use it. I have never used Mizani and when I did relax my hair, I love Affirm and recommend it. How are they different from the Revlon product? - I have no idea because I never use anything but Affirm.

Question: Would you recommend making the switch from Revlon Fabulaxer to Mizani or Affirm?

Answer: I would not recommend you switching to anything except Affirm and after you switch once, stick with your second choice!

Question: Can I use Affirm on top of Vigorol or wait?

Answer: Wait 6 weeks before going to Affirm IF you are not having a lot of breakage. If you are having a lot of breakage I recommend you treat your hair like I specify in my book for 6 weeks BEFORE you change to Affirm. 6 weeks of treatments will strengthen the hair and prepare it for the change you will make with the chemical. I used Vigoral years and years ago. I found it to be okay but not a good product for Type 4 hair. It is more of a mild formula whereas Affirm can be adjusted from Mild to Resistant strengths. IF you decided to change to Affirm - STICK WITH AFFIRM - IF you decide to use VIGORAL - STICK WITH IT. To avoid unnecessary breakage you must stick with one chemical! Finally get a copy of my book. Even if you decide not to use the products, the $15.00 investment is worth its weight in gold!

Question: Do you have any suggestions for caring for a curl? Also why is my hair thinning?

Answer: The way you take care of a curl is the same way you take care of a relaxer - they are both chemicals. After reading my book you should understand why your hair could be thinning. Is it perhaps because you have not used protein to rebuild the hair? There could be a number of reasons and it is up to you to identify it after reading my book. After you read it and have specific questions, I can perhaps better answer your questions - but currently it is too broad.

Question: I would like to know if it's safe to relax my hair while I am pregnant. I am in the first trimester (7 weeks) and currently wear it short and have no chemicals in it. Thanks!

Answer: There is no evidence to my knowledge that confirms relaxing the hair during pregnancy affects your unborn child.

Question: Do you use Affirm (Guainidine) Or Sodium Hydroxide. To use Lye or no Lye is the question I guess.

Answer: I don’t relax my hair any more, however, Fiberguard is what I used post April 2004, the no-lye formula.

Question: Your argument for NOT having to oil the scalp is that the glans takes care of our root already. If relaxers dry out our dry hair and hence we need to apply moisturizers plus grease (oils) to retain that moisture, don’t you feel that our scalps are somewhat affected during the relaxing process?

Answer: The relaxer should be kept off the scalp, thereby decreasing the negative scalp effects.

Question: I will probably go ahead and get your book, but this is my concern: Please consider the following info: Your hair may break for a number of reasons. Relaxers are one of the most potent and alkaline chemicals anyone can put on the hair. The purpose of a relaxer is to destroy peptide bonds. In contrast to a curly perm which only breaks the bonds and then they are reformed, relaxers destroy them. Peptide bonds create the strength in the hair and physically “hold the hair together." When the peptide bonds get destroyed, the hair straightens because it has lost most all the strength. When too many peptide bonds get destroyed by relaxers, the hair has no way to hold together and breaks (falls apart). Once a peptide bond is destroyed no conditioner on earth can fix, mend, or repair it (contrary to many ads you see.) It is impossible to repair. Deep conditioners, protein treatments, oils, treatments, etc., physically cannot repair a destroyed peptide bond ever. Cathy, I fear this IS an example of my case, my hair grows very good in some areas, but near my front line I have very little to no hair growth(it's bald in some areas).When I used to relax my hair this is where I FELT most of the burning. If the above info is true then there is no possible way my hair will ever grow back as it did before. IF this is true then I’m only wasting time and money. I at least would like my hair to grow back evenly. And if possible have new hair growth where there presently is none. Do you think there is any -hope??

Answer: Your consideration is partially correct. According to Milady's Hair Structure and Chemistry Simplified...Page 188-190 I will paraphrase - the relaxer breaks apart the bonds and the hair is in a reduced state where the bonds are TEMPORARILY broken. The bonds are rearranged by combing. 50% of the bonds are reformed in the neutralizing process.

So your case is not hopeless. The bonds in the hair are not going to stop your hair from growing in new from the scalp. If you have hair in these places and it is not bald then this system may help the hair you have now and the knowledge will keep you growing for years to come. The balding is another issue and if it has been gone for a year or more, nothing will help you regain in those areas. Did your relaxer do this? It is tough to say. (Did you ever wear braids - 2nd only to glued on weaves, braids cause this problem too) If you repeatedly put it on your scalp! Yes this can be a permanent problem.

Question: I received your book from Amazon on Wednesday, and I finished it the same day, I have gone back to reading it all over again. And just cannot put it down. My colleague at work is intrigued by it. I also would like to thank you for sending the conditioner and moisturizer, I received it this morning (UK ) time. One other thing, please could you give an advice for my colleague. When she uses a relaxer kit, whether kiddies or normal, they always seem to burn her scalp, can you explain why this happens? And what advice could you give her to prevent this from happening.

Answer: For your colleague- A Kiddie relaxer contains the SAME ingredients as the adult relaxer. This is a common misconception we have just because it is marketed for kids - it still has to do the same thing which is to relax the curl pattern in our hair. Look at the ingredients the next time you shop for a relaxer. Ingredient for ingredient will be the same as the adult product. The difference is that they work slower in an attempt to stop burning too soon. My suggestions for your friends burning problem:

Do not wash your hair or even exercise the day of your retouch because the pores will remain open for 24 hours and can burn your head severely.

Do not scratch an itchy scalp 2-3 days before a retouch this can also cause severe burning

Keep the product off the scalp!

Question: Would you recommend a product called Volumax? I believe it’s some kind of texturizer to soften my new-growth instead of relaxers, of course to use with your conditioner?

Answer: I don’t recommend changing chemicals. That is one of the reasons we lose our hair. Some chemicals do not work together. A texturizer is a chemical similar to a relaxer but often can be different enough that changing will cause you to lose your hair. My crème moisturizer helps extend retouches because it keeps the hair soft. Using the techniques described in the book with my crème moisturizer will allow you to grow your hair out without a lot of the breakage associated with wanting to go natural. So no I do not recommend Volumax. Stick with the chemical you currently use or be prepared to start all over.

Question: I have a texturizer and I will need a touchup soon and I want to relax it now--how long should I wait or -- what do you recommend that I do to my roots?

Answer: Choose to do your retouch when YOU decide to do it because I would NEVER recommend you get a relaxer on your hair at all. I will not tell you 2 weeks, 4 weeks etc. because what you want to do can cause you severe problems and I don’t want you thinking that my advice was wrong if it turns out disastrous for you.

The roots can be straightened with a curling iron or flat iron if you use my crème moisturizer on your hair after you wash. How long can you do this? When I was relaxing my hair, I would stretch my retouches to 14 weeks by using this method.

Question: What's the difference between relaxed and permed?

Answer: This is in my book however a relaxer straightens and a perm curls.

Question: My friend gets her hair permed by this beautician and her perms come out really well. I had used Affirm for 3 years on my hair prior to now. I like the results. She also uses Vital too; I want to use what she uses. What do you think?

Answer: Stick with the chemical you currently use. Switching back and forth will cause damage to your hair!

Question: I have been looking on the web for information on black hair care concerning pressing the hair while wearing a "Wave Nouveau" and I found your website. I am impressed with your website and I will be ordering the UBH book and hair products this week. Your hair is simply gorgeous and so is your skin. I am also a Mary Kay user. I have worn a "wave" for years and my hair is long and healthy, although it’s not quite as long as yours, but, it’s getting there. I agree with you when you say that it is not good to apply different chemicals to the hair. However, I don't want to change from the wave perm, but I would like to start getting it pressed between touch-ups. I have discussed this with my beautician, whom I have been with for the past five years and she does not press hair, but referred me to a lady that does.

Answer: STOP; PLEASE CANCEL YOUR APPOINTMENT TO HAVE YOUR CHEMICALLY PROCESSED HAIR PRESSED!!!!! If you want to keep what hair you have you WILL NOT have it pressed. This is one of the things I talk about in my book. Hair that has been chemically processed was NEVER intended to be used with extreme heat such as the pressing comb! I am not surprised that your hairdresser did not tell you this because MOST hairdressers do not know this important fact! If you get your chemically processed hair pressed, you will experience EXTREME breakage if not immediately, real soon. Before you do another thing to your hair, get a copy of my book. Your eyes will be opened and you will be able to direct the hairdressers yourself. Please read my book!

Question: My hairdresser swears by Mizani. I thought I recalled reading that you like it, too. Anyway, she says she prefers it because it's the only relaxer she knows of that will let her put a deep conditioner in a patron's hair BEFORE shampooing with a neutralizer. I never had to read your book to know that that sounded extremely risky, and consequently, I've never let her handle my touch-ups. Is that something you've ever heard of, deep conditioning with Mizani BEFORE using a neutralizing shampoo to stop the straightening process?

Answer: I have NEVER used Mizani anything and as far as my chemicals, I would not have used Mizani because I used Affirm when I was relaxing my hair and I never changed my chemicals.

Putting conditioner on before the neutralizer is what Affirm suggest doing also. I don’t particularly like this method because I like the chemical reaction to stop immediately after I have rinsed my hair. Based on my experience, the purpose of the conditioner before the neutralizer is to get the product in the hair while the hair shaft is wide open. Well guess what - it is still wide open after the neutralizer too. I even apply my color (Bigen) as it takes better immediately after a retouch too as opposed to waiting weeks later.

I prefer conditioning be done after the chemical has stopped working with the neutralizer. This to me is more practical. When I relaxed my hair, I occasionally did the conditioning method before the neutralizer. My preference was to neutralize BEFORE the condition.

Question: What is a Fiberguard Affirm, and will my hairdresser know what it is?

Answer: Fiberguard is the latest Affirm relaxer product. When I was relaxing may hair, I liked Fiberguard better. It was supposed to strengthen the hair when it is relaxed. If she knows anything about Affirm she will know the name.

Question: Before I cut my hair I had hair about 12 inches that took me two years to grow and I never got my hair clipped so I know that's true. My hair was very curly sometimes and I couldn't really comb it when I would get corn rows. So I would blow dry it. I finally decided to get a perm so I wouldn't have to comb it so hard and to make it easier for people who braid my hair because I have thick hair. They used dark and lovely. Is that a good perm? My hair is so thick. It didn't take so well and the back of my head was like it was never permed but towards the end it was straight and it wasn't done professionally so that may be why. I cut my hair all of it and want to start over. I want to know how often should I wash my hair and is blue magic (green in color) Hair and Scalp conditioner good to use to oil my hair.

Answer: It does not sound like you are looking for a relaxer (perm) you want a texturizer (just to loosen the curl). As far as the products you are inquiring about, I don’t recommend any products I have not used. I have used neither of the ones you are inquiring about. Also if you read my book you know I don’t recommend anything on the scalp.

Question: If I used a perm all my life can I switch to a texturizer? I really want to loosen my curl pattern not straighten my hair. If so can I use anyone off the shelf, which are typically for men?

Answer: Different chemicals do not work well together. So my answer is NO. I would not switch. The texturizer is similar to a milder form of a relaxer. Use the relaxer you currently use but don’t leave it on as long or cut your hair off and start over.

Question: I have a question. I have had a Wave Noveau (curly perm) for the last 10 years. Recently I went back to a mild relaxer, but I find that my hair is breaking off very badly. My hair breaks off when I comb my hair. Everywhere I go I'm noticing strands of hair. I get a wash and conditioner every 2 weeks from my beautician, and I also have my hair rolled and set under the dryer. It's getting so bad that I'm thinking about going back to the Wave Noveau, but I really don't want to do that. Any suggestions?

Answer: Please, please stop changing chemicals! The reason you are losing your hair is because a Perm and a Relaxer are different chemicals! If you have not read my book I suggest you get a copy immediately. Relaxers and Perm products do not work together. You have changed the structure of the hair once. You can only change it once! When you put relaxer on the perm hair you tried to change it again! When the structure of the hair is broken, there is nothing you can do to correct it except a pair of scissors! I am sorry you have experienced this. If you have not read my book please, please read it. If you had, you probably would not have done that. You can try to do an Aphogee treatment (at Sally's beauty supply). If the hair is not severely damaged, it may help but if the chemical bonds are broken, regretfully there is no solution but a pair of scissors!

Question: Hello. I am a young female who has taken out a kiddie perm relaxer for three months now. Now that it is back to school time I want a relaxer, a real relaxer. It will be either Lady Velvet or another one like Optimum because those are the only kinds my hairdresser uses I think. I really want to know, is my hair growing now (about an inch and a half since she trimmed it two inches in January when I first permed it). I am pressing it or should I get my relaxer?

Answer: The products you want to use I do not recommend. Also I see the potential for major problems with things you have said. You are pressing your Kiddie Permed Hair!!! Your potential problems are lurking if not already there and I suspect they are. You are causing problems on your own hair so certainly I am not going to tell YOU to get a relaxer!! You also cannot press chemically processed hair!! Read my book. Your hair care is in need of serious help!

Question: My hair texture is coarse and kinky. Your products appear to be targeted for women with relaxers. I would like to read your book and try your products. Does your hair care system work as well on natural hair as well as relaxed hair? Please let me know quickly, since I'm anxious to order your book and products ASAP. My hair seems to reject everything and is very dry and breaks easily.

Answer: Hair is hair; our hair is dry, in fact the driest of any race of people. Relaxed hair is the worst case scenario because it dries our dry hair more if not maintained properly. Yes this will work for natural hair as well as chemically treated hair.

Question: I got calls from some girlfriends who caught this piece on our local ABC affiliate station, Channel 6-Action News. Thought I recalled you writing about "Thio", and if I'm correct, whatever it was, it wasn't good. It is called The Secrets of Japanese Hair straightening. What are your thoughts?

Answer: Donna, Thio is the same chemically used to perm the hair. If you use a chemical relaxer, under no circumstance should you use Thio products. Thio products were also used in the curly perms. Saying the customer who uses this method would not have to reuse for 6 months would not work for us because of the tight curl pattern of the new growth. We would have an afro with straight hair sticking off it (not pretty in my opinion). So my comment -sisters with afro textured hair, it won’t work for you!!

Question: Hello, I am writing for some information on what to do with my hair. My hair has been damaged from medication and perms over the years. I don't know what to do but cut it down to about 1-1/2”. I am now having a problem with how tight the natural curl looks. I feel I look like a boy. I would like a softer look. My question is should I put a home kit texturizer on it or should I perm it with a regular perm? I want it to grow also and in the past the perm only takes it so far and I am right back where I started. I also need to know how to put the texturizer on so it gives me the wave look and not the regular look. I hope you will be able to help.

Answer: Sharon, I will not advise you to do a perm, relaxer, texturizer or any chemical on your hair because you could experience more problems with your hair than you have now. Especially if you don’t know that you are doing and what to watch for. I do not give advice on these procedures either. Go to a salon to have it done. Then after you have the chemical, ensure you read my book to know what to expect and how to care for your hair to keep it on your head and from breaking off.

Question: There is a girl at my job with a pretty good length of hair and she mentioned to me that she gets a touch up about every 3 weeks! I don't know about you but that sounds a bit dangerous to me. What do you think? I am guessing that she does that to prevent the breakage that we get around the time for the next touchup.

Answer: For whatever reason your coworker is doing retouches as frequently as she is doing them, it is not a good idea as chemicals can destroy the hair. They are a lot less damaging to the hair than they were decades ago. But they still should never be applied too often!

Question: Well, turns out MY hairdresser DOES use the Affirm Fiberguard. It was turning into a major production to find a salon here in Center City Philadelphia that DOES. And guess what, Avalon's website lists salons in any given area that are "supposedly" retailers of Affirm Fiberguard, and when I called on of them, not only did they tell me they don't use the Affirm Fiberguard, they told me they use something called Syntonics which is much better. Told 'em thanks, but no thanks, and went right back to my girl.

Answer: GOOD for YOU! I don’t know what Syntonics is but I would not let them use it on me either. Glad to hear you found someone who DOES use Affirm that hopefully you can trust. You do trust her, right?

Question: Can I use your products even though I have the "Wave Nouveau" relaxer?

Answer: Use my conditioner instead of what they have as my product improves the hair. Their moisturizing product (aka the curl activator) they offer can be substituted with my spray.

Question: The reason why I want to get a new relaxer at this time is because my hair is growing and the roots are kind of hard to comb. This seems to just cause more breakage. What can I do in the meantime to get my hair back in health condition while dealing with the kinky roots? At this point I am really scared of losing my hair.

Answer: Avoid combing the hair at the roots and use Silky spray moisturizer along with your flat iron. You will be able to extend your relaxer using this method. Use protein treatments to strengthen your hair but ensure it is softened by moisturizing.

Question: Cathy, I need help with my hair. I have a situation where my hair grew out at a comfortable long length that I really liked. However, I decided to get highlights on 6/01. In Nov. 2001, I started to notice hair breakage in the crown or top of my head. When I asked the hairdresser about the relaxer, she told me that she used something different than before. The hair dresser started out using Excelle Relaxer, then; she switched to Optimum, then to Lustre Silk. This was all done without my knowledge. I suggested to her that switching relaxers might have causes the breakage. She denied it, because only the color treated hair broke and not the hair at the root. She suggested a hair trim or cut because the hair shaft split the hair. However, this hair in the crown of my head is so short around the rest of my hair until I would have to cut all of my hair to get it even. So she cut some, but it still looks damaged and bad at the top. Please give me some suggestions, because I don't want to cut my hair. I was recommended to another hairdresser in which she uses Affirm. Is this a good time to use another relaxer? I have been using Keracare products at home.

Answer: Switching relaxers was one problem, but the highlighted hair on relaxed hair is another problem. Please get a copy of my book because if you had read it you would not have double processed your hair with the relaxer and highlights. Also ask before you get in the chair what relaxer the hairdresser is using. Changing chemical products WILL also cause problems if the products do not work together. Finally it is NOT a good time to get yet another relaxer. Get your hair in a better condition before trying this again. Get a copy of my book and read it before you do another thing to your hair.

If your hair has any breakage I would recommend a protein treatment (aphogee) the weekend BEFORE you go for the touch up. Your hair will be hard so soften it all weekend.

Question: Do you allow your hairdresser to use the Affirm reconstructor and/or Positive Link Conditioner for Medium & Course Hair on your hair AFTER the Affirm Relaxer has been put in and rinsed out? What's the name of the chemical blocker? I' m really nervous about this change, Cathy!

Answer: The relaxer I used to use was called Affirm FiberGuard for Sensitive Scalp. Positive Link is not used with this product. The Preservo Chemical Block was put on the hair before the relaxer. The relaxer you are talking about is the “First” relaxer Affirm did. As far as I know, they still sell it too but I found out about the FiberGuard from a hairdresser friend and the first application sold me on using it from that point forward (until I gave them up totally in 2004).

Question: Cathy, I'm giving my hair a break from relaxers. My hair is medium length (10 inches long) and very thick. Currently I'm using beeswax on my hair ( I don't use that much but, a dime size). To keep it straight once I have pressed my hair. Do you know of any other products that I can use to keep it straight without relaxers? I also think I need a protein treatment my hair is breaking pretty bad. I spend over an hour in the beauty supply store trying to find a good protein treatment. Everything I picked up contained cethly alcohol ( I know that's not good for my hair, I learned that from reading your book, thank you). Can you recommend a protein treatment? Or would the UBH conditioner correct my hair problems?

Answer: After you wash your hair on (Wednesday) try spraying Silky Spray on your hair then dry it. Ensure it is dry thoroughly under and in between. Avoid the grease and see how your hair feels. The only protein treatment I recommend is Aphogee. It has to go on the hair and dry hard to work. (Sally's has it) My conditioner is for regular maintenance. If you have severe breakage, you need a protein treatment.

Question: Hi, Cathy. I'm Donna Kearse, and we've corresponded by e-mail previously. Over the last two months, my hair shows signs of needing a touch-up by my 3rd or 4th week. Prior to using your system, which I've been on now since April 2002, my hair wouldn't show signs of need for a touch-up until my 4th or 5th week. I'm inclined to believe that between the iron and zinc supplements, the twice a week shampooing and deep conditioning, and the constant moisturizing, my hair is growing much more quickly. However, I've never been one for the "big hair" look. I don't live in Texas, I live in Philadelphia, PA and I prefer a much less "mile-high" appearance!

The only way my hair appears to lay down is if I smooth it back into a bun after I've washed, conditioned and moisturized it. This way, it dries shiny and wavy. And while this is a beautiful, sophisticated look for the office (I'm the office administrator for a law firm, it gets boring QUICKLY. Any suggestions or insight about what I've described? Thanks!

Answer: (This answer was provided when I was still relaxing my hair) It was 9 weeks into my last relaxer and this is how I do my hair to keep it soft and the new growth smoother. After washing and deep conditioning with my conditioner I rinse my hair then apply the Silky Spray (apply it a little heavy to cover all the hair), go back under the dryer to dry the hair, smoothing it as it drys, combing it away from the sides to dry the sides thoroughly, lifting the hair to dry the nape area and feeling inside the hair for still wet spots, use the end of a long handled comb to section the hair in these places, smooth with the hands as it continues to dry. Do this all over the head and DO NOT use a creme moisturizer during this time that contains protein (motions) as it will make the hair hard and stiff instead of soft and smooth like the Silky Spray was intended to do. You are then free to style as you wish. Let me know if this helps.

Question: My hairstylist uses the Affirm perm which has changed the curly structure of my hair. However, each time I get a retouch, it gets very dry. Not to mention, that I go once a week for a conditioner and set. Is once a week too much for very fine hair? My hair seems to be very thin.

Answer: Relaxers dry our already dry hair out more. The conditioner is probably not providing you with the requirements needed after a relaxer. A deep conditioner is needed for relaxed hair. It has to be done at least once a week. If that deep conditioner does not contain the requirements I have stated in my book, your hair is probably not doing as well as it can be. Also your thinning is likely being caused by the application process of the relaxer being pushed against your head.

Question: I visited your website and found it quite interesting. I keep my hair cut short and was very pleased with a texturizer called Dark n Natural. This product did wonders for my hair and now has been discontinued. I have since tried several other texturizers, but cannot achieve that "same look" anymore. I have decided to just let my hair grow and just go natural. How long do I have to wait before I can perhaps try a perm or relaxer to obtain a different look?

Answer: Pricilla, you can never change perm (texturized) hair to relaxed hair. Once the hair has been changed by the texturizer chemical, trying to change it to a different chemical will weaken and destroy the hair, in some cases even disintegrating it. Your hair will either have to grow out with the chemical on it or expect to lose it all the way down to the new growth if you decide to relaxer now. Those two chemicals don’t work together at all!

Question: Hi Cathy...Just found your website. And I love it...I have relaxed my hair. Using Wave Nouveau...and my hair is nice. Getting longer...the only problem I have when I wash it. .It feels like a lot of strands are coming out on my hands as I put my fingers through it Now I usually wet my hair and use rinse out conditioner...and leave it in for a day or so.......air dry ..or I will wet my hair and use the finishing lotion and air dry my hair Is there something I am doing wrong or should not be doing...I don’t comb or pull my hair at all in any way. But and it’s nice and curly. But I want to ensure that I am not damaging wetting it every day.

Answer: Kevin, first let me tell you that a Wave Nouveau is a perm not a relaxer. It is important to know what chemical you have. Based on what you have told me your products are not improving your hair, they are just sitting on it. Chemicals dry our already dry hair so you need to constantly add products that improve it to keep it from breaking. It sounds like you are just not getting something your hair needs. Wetting it every day is no problem at all. In fact dry hair loves it. When water evaporates and you are left with dry hair again unless you keep it moisturized. I really suggest you read my book. You will then understand your hairs requirements.

Question: I was in a salon here in town today. My friend from Peru has a salon and I went in to see if she could tell me where I could shop for a hooded hairdryer. I talked to her about my hair and she showed me a texturizer product from a company named Joico. I looked them up on the net, but their product did not seem to be something that would work well on OUR hair. Have you ever heard of Joico?

Answer: I have heard of Joico but have never used it. Although I have never used Motions, I would recommend their relaxer before I recommend Joico.

Question: I would like to know if you've heard of the "Naturalaxer" and what are your views on it.

Answer: Yes I have heard of them and I have never used them. I do not recommend anything I have never used.

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