A Complete Guide to What is Relaxed Hair

what is relaxed hair

Are you thinking about getting relaxed hair? Maybe you’ve seen a celebrity with straight, sleek hair and wondered how they achieved it. Or you’ve been considering a relaxer but still determining if it’s the right choice. Whatever your reason for wanting to learn more about hair relaxers, this complete guide will teach you everything you need to know. From what a relaxer is and does to the different types of relaxers available on the market, we’ll cover all the bases so that by the end of this post, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not a hair relaxer is right for you. Without further ado, let’s get started!

What Are Hair Relaxers?

Hair relaxers are chemical treatments used to straighten curly or wavy hair. They break down the bonds inside your hair strands, resulting in smoother and straighter hair.

Relaxing your hair is a permanent process. Unlike natural hair that can revert to its curly state after heat straightening, relaxed hair stays straight until it grows out completely.

There are three types of relaxers to choose from:

  • Lye (also known as sodium hydroxide) and
  • No lye (also referred to as calcium hydroxide)
  • Thio (also known as ammonium thioglycolate)

Each relaxer has pros and cons, so it’s essential to research before choosing the best for your needs.

Lye Relaxers

The main ingredient in lye relaxers is sodium hydroxide, a powerful and caustic chemical.

Lye relaxers have a high pH level between 12-14. The average hair pH level is between 4.5-5.5, so the high pH of relaxers can damage your hair if not appropriately handled.

Pros of Lye Hair Relaxers:

  • Due to their strength, they break down hair fast, and you can rinse them out quickly
  • With a good neutralizing shampoo, lye relaxers tend to rinse out cleanly and quickly
  • Typically come in a premixed tub and are ready to use
  • Do not leave mineral deposits on the hair, and thus less drying to the strands

Cons of Lye Hair Relaxers

  • High pH means lye relaxers can irritate the scalp & damage hair if not rinsed quickly
  • Best suited for experienced professionals who understand the risks

No Lye Relaxers

These relaxers contain calcium hydroxide, a milder chemical than sodium hydroxide.

No lye relaxers have a pH level of 10-12 and are gentler on the scalp and hair than lye relaxers.

Pros of No Lye Relaxers: 

  • Their gentler formulation provides a lower degree of bond breakage
  • More suitable for people with sensitive scalps

Cons of No Lye Relaxers:

  • Typically come in box kits, and you need to mix them to activate the formula
  • A boxed kit is suitable for only one application
  • They can leave mineral deposits on the hair, decreasing its ability to absorb moisture

You’ll need to use a clarifying shampoo to remove calcium buildup caused by no-lye relaxers. Follow up with a moisturizing deep conditioning treatment, as clarifying shampoos are often drying.

Thio Relaxers

The main ingredient in thio relaxers is ammonium thioglycolate, a milder chemical than sodium hydroxide.

Thio relaxers have a pH level of 8-9 and are gentler on the scalp and hair than lye or no-lye relaxers.

Pros of Thio Relaxers: 

  • Their milder formulation provides a lower degree of bond breakage
  • More suitable for people with sensitive scalps
  • They can be left on hair longer without causing damage
  • Easier to manipulate and work with to achieve desired straightening results

Cons of Thio Relaxers: 

  • Typically come in box kits that you need to mix to activate their formulation
  • A boxed kit is suitable for only one application

All relaxers are chemical treatments that break down hair’s natural bonds to straighten it. As such, all hair relaxers can damage your hair if not handled and maintained correctly.

Overlapping the different types of relaxers can cause severe damage, and thus you should not use them interchangeably.

Remember that all these types of relaxers are permanent forms of hair straightening, so it’s essential to consult a professional before deciding which one is right for you.

Decide If You Should Get Relaxed Hair

Now that you know the differences between lye, no lye, and thio relaxers, it’s time to decide if you need to relax your hair.

Whether or not a hair relaxer is right for you depends on your hair type and lifestyle.

If you want to achieve smooth, straight locks but don’t want to subject yourself to the harsh chemicals in relaxers, there are alternatives such as:

  • Heat styling tools
  • Keratin treatments

These processes will allow you to temporarily achieve the look of straight hair without the commitment or damage caused by a relaxer.

However, the repeated use of these treatments can weaken and damage your hair.

Take the time to research your options and consider which is best for you.

Pros of Relaxed Hair

  • Less knotting and tangling: Relaxed hair is generally less prone to tangles and knots, making it easier to manage.
  • Versatility: Relaxed hair allows you to quickly achieve various looks, from sleek straight styles to voluminous curls.
  • Easy to do: The process of applying a hair relaxer takes about an hour, and the results are permanent, requiring root touch-ups every 8-12 weeks
  • Less time-consuming: Relaxed hair requires less time to style and maintain.

Cons of Relaxed Hair

  • Requires more diligence: Relaxed hair is softer and more delicate than natural hair, so it’s essential to use proper handling techniques and products that won’t strip your strands
  • Costly to maintain: Regular salon visits and product purchases can add up quickly
  • Chemical damage: When not handled correctly (i.e. over-processing), relaxers can significantly damage the hair shaft.

For healthy relaxed hair, it’s essential to invest in quality products and regular deep conditioning treatments to maintain your new look. Healthy relaxed hair is possible with a bit of diligence.

If you decide to get a relaxer, use professional products and have your relaxer applied by an experienced hairstylist.

Healthy relaxed hair starts with a healthy routine and the right product choices. So take the time to research your options, prepare your hair for relaxing, and maintain it properly afterward.

Maintaining Healthy Relaxed Hair

Once you’ve decided to use a relaxer, it’s essential to ensure healthy relaxed hair that looks and feels its best.

Schedule a weekly wash

You should wash relaxed hair every week to keep it clean and remove buildup that can prevent moisture absorption.

Choose a gentle shampoo designed explicitly for relaxed hair, and use lukewarm water to avoid drying out the strands.

Follow with a moisturizing conditioner to help replenish lost moisture and keep your hair healthy.

Deep condition regularly

Regular deep conditioning treatments are essential for maintaining healthy relaxed hair. Deep conditioning helps repair damaged cuticles, strengthen the strands, and lock in moisture.

There are primarily two types of deep conditioning treatments:

  • Protein deep treatments: Use these treatments once a month to help strengthen the hair shaft and prevent damage
  • Moisturizing deep treatments: These treatments hydrate and nourish the hair, helping keep it soft and healthy

Further, incorporate other deep treatments, such as hot oil or steam treatments, into your routine to provide additional nourishment and protection.

Follow with a styling product specifically designed for relaxed hair, such as a leave-in conditioner or serum, to maintain shine and minimize frizz.

Use protective styling techniques.

Protective styling is vital for keeping relaxed hair healthy.

Styles that require minimal manipulation, such as french braids, buns and twists, will help protect your hair in between relaxer sessions.

Protective styling also reduces the heat styling you do on your hair. Subsequently, it will minimize damage and help your hair stay healthy.

Invest in quality products

Choose quality products designed for relaxed hair to keep it looking its best. Quality products are more likely to nourish the strands and help prevent dryness, breakage and damage.

Look for sulphate-free shampoos, moisturizing conditioners and leave-in treatments designed specifically for relaxed hair.

Regular trims

Regularly trimming your ends will help remove split ends, reduce breakage and promote healthy hair growth.

Aim for a trim every 6-8 weeks or as needed.

Avoid Hot Tools

Finally, avoid heat styling tools which can damage the hair and strip it of its natural oils.

Always use a thermal protector spray beforehand if you must use heat-styling tools. Also, use the lowest heat setting possible to avoid causing too much damage.

Healthy relaxed hair is possible with the proper care and maintenance routine. With a bit of diligence, you can enjoy beautiful and healthy locks. These tips can help ensure that your relaxed hair stays healthy and beautiful.

FAQs on Healthy Relaxed Hair

Q: How often should I relax my hair?

A: You should apply a relaxer every 8-12 weeks, which can vary depending on individual needs. Consult with your stylist to find the right timing for your hair type.

Q: What is wrong with getting bone-straight relaxed hair?

A: Getting bone straight relaxed hair can lead to over-processing and remove any degree of elasticity from your strands. Over-processed hair is weak and more prone to breakage. It’s best to aim for a smooth and natural look that is still healthy and manageable.

Q: What is the processing time for a relaxer?

A: Processing time can vary depending on the relaxer used and your hair’s condition. In general, processing times range between 10-20 minutes. It is best to consult with a professional for an accurate processing time.

Q: What is the difference between lye and no-lye relaxers?

A: Lye relaxers contain sodium hydroxide, an alkaline substance used to break down the hair’s proteins and straighten them. These relaxers are more effective in straightening the hair and process quickly.

No-lye relaxers use calcium hydroxide or guanidine hydroxide as their active ingredient instead of sodium hydroxide. No-lye relaxers are typically gentler on the scalp, but both types can damage the hair if not used properly.

Q: How do relaxers work?

A: Relaxers work by breaking down the disulphide bonds of the hair strands, making them easier to smooth and straighten. The treatment elongates the hair cortex, stretching the original curl pattern and making a permanent alteration. This process weakens the hair and makes it more prone to damage, so proper aftercare is essential for maintaining healthy relaxed hair.

Q: What is pH?

A: pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity. Healthy hair typically has a pH range between 4.5-5.5, and relaxers have an alkaline pH ranging from 8-14 to break down the proteins in the hair strands. The correct pH formula for your hair type is essential to avoid over-processing and damage.

Q: How can I prevent damage from relaxers?

A: The best way to prevent damage from relaxers is to follow the instructions and use quality products designed for relaxed hair. Be sure to apply a deep conditioner or protein treatment after every relaxer application and regular trims to remove split ends and promote healthy hair growth. Additionally, avoid over-processing and excessive heat styling to keep your relaxed hair strong and healthy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Healthy relaxed hair is possible with the proper care and maintenance routine and quality products.
  • Avoid over-processing and excessive heat styling, and aim to apply a relaxer every 8-12 weeks. Additionally, use pH-balanced formulas specific to your hair type to keep your relaxed hair strong and healthy.
  • Consult a professional for expert advice on the best relaxer and products for you!

Bottom Line

Relaxed hair is a great way to switch up your look and add versatility to your style. With regular trims, deep conditioning treatments, and avoiding heat-styling tools, you can enjoy beautiful, healthy, relaxed hair that will last for years. Healthy relaxed hair is possible with the proper care and maintenance routine. Consult your stylist for expert advice on the best relaxer and products for your hair type.

Take care of your hair so you can continue wearing it beautifully and confidently!

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