When encountering many women with kinky hair, we’ve noticed that a significant number of them started applying relaxers to their hair at a very young age and regularly.
The primary reason is that relaxers make maintenance simpler as there’s less frizz.
But many of them are unaware of the important factors to consider before applying this chemical to their hair.
If you’ve never used a relaxer but are considering buying one, read on. You’ll get some advice on what you need to know before making this decision.
What Is a Relaxer ?
A relaxer, or relaxant, is a chemical product applied to curly, kinky, or coily hair to straighten it.
It’s called a relaxer because it essentially “relaxes” the curls, making them looser if they are tightly coiled.
People who tend to use this treatment are seeking a smoother texture.
This alteration is irreversible, meaning the natural texture of your hair will be permanently changed.
To revert to your natural texture, you’ll need to cut the relaxed portion.
What Does a Relaxer Contain ?
This is the most crucial question. Indeed, the chemicals in relaxers are a major reason why they often spark debates among women.
There are two types of alkaline relaxers:
Lye-based products (sodium hydroxide): These are highly aggressive. Sodium hydroxide relaxers are very effective at quickly straightening hair. Due to their quick transformation, they are the most widely used relaxers by professionals. With a fast and precise application, hairdressers can apply the relaxer evenly, process it for the appropriate time, and rinse it thoroughly with a neutralizing shampoo to prevent potential damage and irritation during the chemical process.
No-lye relaxers: These are less aggressive and generally better tolerated by the scalp and hair fiber. No-lye relaxers are more suitable for individuals with very sensitive scalps because the chemicals and pH level in these types of relaxers are milder than those containing lye.
Did you know? Sodium hydroxide is the most active chemical used in some chemical relaxers because it offers the most long-lasting and dramatic effects. However, the same sodium hydroxide can be found in drain cleaners, which clearly demonstrates the power of this chemical.
Are Relaxers Safe for Your Hair ?
This process achieves the desired effect of smoother hair but simultaneously leaves the hair weak, fragile, and more prone to breakage.
Furthermore, the chemicals in relaxers are very potent; they have to be if you want your hair’s texture to be changed so drastically.
Relaxers can also lead to scalp burns. Some women experience irritations, scalp damage, or hair loss.
Remember that relaxers strip away all the natural oils from your hair, so you’ll need to put in extra effort to care for your hair if you decide to relax it.
Additionally, if you relax your chemically processed hair and later decide to return to your natural curls, you’ll need to wait for new growth and cut all the relaxed hair. Chemically relaxed hair won’t revert to its natural form.
Although I don’t recommend relaxing, if you’re considering buying one for the first time, it’s better to go to a professional rather than using a home kit.
When Can I Use a Relaxer on My Child’s Hair ?
The short answer is that you should never relax a child’s hair, or an adult’s, for that matter.
Before the age of 12, relaxers are not recommended. Even after that age, they are not a necessity.
Just because hair product manufacturers create and market relaxer kits for children doesn’t mean they are safer to use on young scalps.
All relaxers contain chemicals, and developing scalps are particularly vulnerable to damage when exposed to these chemicals.
Unfortunately, home relaxer kits are so easy to use and inexpensive that children as young as two have been subjected to them.
Relaxers can sting, burn, and cause irreversible damage to a young child’s scalp and hair follicles.
I recommend refraining from subjecting your child’s hair and scalp to these products.
The Pros and Cons of Relaxing
The only advantage of relaxed hair is that for some, it may be easier to manage.
Relaxed hair is smoother and forms fewer knots than natural hair.
However, the strands are very fine, with much less volume, strength, and curl pattern compared to natural hair.
Relaxed hair is much more fragile than natural hair. This is due to the chemical process used to break the bonds between proteins and make them smoother.
If your goal is to have long, healthy relaxed hair, you’ll need to put in even more effort than if it were natural.
You’ll need to:
- Moisturize daily.
- Use heat even more sparingly.
- Implement protective hairstyles.
- Regularly perform deep conditioning treatments, and so on.
Should I Get a Relaxer ?
Whether you’re a man or a woman, many believe that relaxing will be the solution to all the challenges related to the texture of kinky hair. FALSE!
Having straightened and relaxed hair is not a “simple” task.
On the contrary, relaxed hair requires special attention and regular maintenance.
The hair has been weakened by the relaxing process, so you need to be aware that you’re choosing to damage it to make maintenance simpler (yes, it sounds paradoxical, but it’s the case!).
Therefore, getting a relaxer is not the best solution if you want healthier hair.
It’s essential to understand that if you use a relaxer, your hair will be damaged in the long term.
They will require regular care to keep them as undamaged as possible.
Ultimately, it depends on how you care for your hair.
There are healthy and damaged relaxed hair and healthy and damaged natural hair.