I think I need to cut another 2" to regain my thickness. I have an appointment to see Reniece in October for my next relaxer and haircut. This will make a total of 7" that I've cut this year. I go through different phases with my hair - length obsession, shape obsession (ex. V shape vs. U shape) and now I'm in the blunt ends obsession phase.
After my last relaxer, I went back and reviewed all my progress pictures. There is a stark difference between when my stylist, Reniece, relaxed my hair and when I self-relaxed. I take great care of my hair between relaxers, so when its time to relax, I've always been able to retain all my length and thickness.
January 2007 (Relaxer and cut); finger at top of bra strap
May 2007 (Relaxer)
Reniece did my relaxers in the pictures above and I retained about 2". Please note that I didn't stretch for 4 months, she also did my relaxer in March 2007. When I look at these pictures and then compare them to my self relaxer results here, its clear that self relaxing caused me to lose thickness.
Relaxer day is critical to your regimen and even stylists can cause damage (see below). My last setback was the main reason I decided to try self relaxing. Why pay someone $130 to leave me with thin ends when I can do that myself for free? (LOL).
December 2008 (Relaxer hair loss caused by a new stylist)
I still believe that self relaxing can be done successfully without adverse effects. Although I can probably change my technique to avoid breakage, I decided that it isn't worth the risk of losing progress. Not to mention that it takes me 8-10 hours to self relax, blow dry, and flat iron (that includes taking breaks to eat and watch my shows lol). So after doing the cost-benefit analysis, I decided to stop self relaxing for now (I may try again in the future).