Relaxers have been readily available to the general public for decades, but it's still difficult to know how long to go between touch-ups. Extending the time between them as long as you can, however, is often fruitful. It could be because you're trying to save money, in which case good on you, but you could just want to get chemical processes (and therefore damage your hair) less often. The standard recommended time frame between touch-ups is eight weeks, but there's no rule saying you have to get one as soon as week eight rolls around.
Here are a handful of ways to extend the life of your hair, in between touch-ups.
Try More Wet Sets
A simple way to extend the time between appointments is to rely more on wet-setting your hair, instead of blow-drying. Not only are wet sets gentler on your precious locks, but you can easily create curlier styles that won't show a big difference between new growth and relaxed hair. If you have a hood or bonnet dryer at home, you can do this yourself. Even if you go to your stylist for a wet set, a shampoo and set is usually less expensive (and way less damaging) than a touch-up. If you don't want to use magnetic rollers or flexi-rods for your set, you can still achieve a smooth, sleek look by wet-wrapping your hair. Done correctly, you can even make it look like you just had your hair relaxed.
Blow Dry it Straight
It should only be done a maximum of once or twice a week, but you can blow dry your roots straight. Use a comb attachment for additional straightening, and (this is necessary) a heat protectant product to minimize dryness and damage. Make sure you're keeping up with your protein treatments to strengthen your locks—while it stretches out your relaxer, applying heat to your new growth can lead to weakening where your natural texture meets chemically processed strands. This spot is otherwise known as the line of demarcation, and you don't want to mess with it.
Forgo Bone-Straight Styles
Instead of wearing your hair stick straight when it's time for a touch-up, try leaving it in curly or wavy styles. As with wet sets, your new growth won't be as obvious when your allover hairdo is curly. If your relaxed hair has some kind of curl left to it, you can wet it, apply mousse or setting lotion, and let it dry, resulting in a wavy, beachy look that's perfect for warmer weather.
Wear Your Hair in Longer Lengths
Hair that's super short and tapered around the ears and neck will need touch-ups more often if you want to keep your look uniform. If you wear your hair longer, new growth won't be as obvious. The problem there is that not everyone wants long hair, so if shorter styles suit you, just know to avoid pixie cuts and the like. Consider bobs, or other hairstyles that don't feature closely cropped areas.
You can, of course, always add extensions if you want to skip the touch-ups for a while. Individual braids, two-strand twists and cornrows with extensions will last, at minimum, several weeks. You could also opt for a full-head weave, which would keep your natural hair protected underneath.
Don't Extend Too Long
When it comes to relaxed hair, your tresses should either be chemically processed or not. Waiting too long between touch-ups can result in weakened, brittle hair stemming from overlapping. Stretching your relaxer application time to 12 weeks is a suitable maximum length of time, but for the best health of a relaxed mane, you shouldn't wait any longer than that.