Knowing how to properly smooth hair when applying a relaxer is the surest way to get the best results. Whether you apply a relaxer to virgin hair (hair that has no straightening chemicals in it) or you apply it only to new growth, following careful smoothing instructions will get you straight hair every time.
You may find it helpful to apply a base around the hairline, on the top of the ears and at the nape of the neck before beginning the relaxer process. A base can be a simple coat of petroleum jelly. This protects the skin and scalp from getting chemicals on them.
The best way to smooth a relaxer on the hair is with gloved hands. Gloves protect your skin from the chemicals in a relaxer. You can apply the relaxer with hands or with an application brush. Apply the relaxer in a downward direction. Don't take too much time to smooth during application because you must work quickly to put the relaxer over all the hair you want to straighten.
Once the relaxer is put on the hair, go over all hair that has the chemicals on it. If you're only applying it to new growth, be careful not to get it on previously relaxed hair. This leads to overprocessing and breakage. Avoid getting any chemicals on the scalp as this may cause burning and scalp damage. For smoothing on virgin hair, smooth all the way to the ends.
Work downward and use your fingers to smooth the hair out. Use firm, but gentle pressure. Smooth sections no thicker than one inch to ensure that all hairs are covered. The goal of smoothing is to create straight hair. If the hair is still curly or kinked, smooth it until it lies flat and straight.
You can use a comb to smooth a relaxer, but not to comb the chemicals through the hair. Instead, use the back of a plastic comb to smooth the hair down.
Finish smoothing the hair by the time the recommended time period is up for relaxing. The time frame for relaxing includes application and smoothing.
Around the Hairline
The only time you work upward is when smoothing the hair at the nape of the neck. Lift the hair and smooth it flat before letting this section fall back down.
At the front hairline, be careful not to get any relaxer on the face. Smooth hair going back, including hair at the front of the ears.