The texture of black hair is quite different to that of white hair and relaxers available in the market currently are mainly targeted towards black hair. Black hair is think and weak and it is made of large number of disulphide bonds that holds the protein in the hair. Human scalp naturally produces sebum that goes travels through the hair and makes the hair well moisturized. For people with curly hair it is nearly impossible to achieve this as the curls don’t let the natural sebum from the scalp get to the hair. This causes the hair to be dry and brittle and the makes the scalp oily.
Japanese Thermal Relaxer
These relaxers are thio based and may not be suitable for some people with African American hair texture. In my experience, this works for curls up to 3c but beyond that you might not be able to get the results you desire. Thermal reconditioning is quite a lengthy process in itself and might take up to 6 hrs depending on the length of your hair. The process costs around $400 and quite expensive to start with for many people. If you are planning to do thermal reconditioning it is better to get it done at salon as it is quite exhaustive to do it yourself. There are some at home kits available with step by step instructions if you are planning to do it yourself. As thio relaxers don’t mingle with other types of relaxers if you have had your hair relaxed or dyed previously make sure you hair is able to cope by doing a strand test. Below are some relaxer kits if you want to save some money and do it at home:
Rusk Thermal Shiny Str8 – Permanent Straightener
Quantum Thermal Straightener For Color Treated Hair
Quantum Thermal Straightener For Normal Hair
Bio Ionic Retex Hair Straightening System, Retex Kit
Matrix Opti Smooth Japanese Hair Straightener
As with any relaxers always do a strand test before the relaxing process to determine whether your hair is able to withstand the chemical in the relaxers.
Relaxers for black hair
The traditional relaxers that are designed for black hair are categorically divided lye and no lye. Lye relaxers also known as base and are made up of Sodium Hydroxide. It is the same ingredient used to unclog blocked drains. This would give you an idea about how strong the chemical is. But, it nevertheless helps you achieve what you want if done properly. These relaxers are a lot cheaper than the thermal reconditioning treatment but can be more damaging to the hair if not done properly.
As mentioned above, Lye relaxers are made up of Sodium Hydroxide. In my opinion, Sodium Hydroxide relaxers should always be reserved for professional use as if not done properly it can cause severe damage to hair and scalp. Before applying Lye relaxer protect your scalp with petroleum jelly so that he relaxer doesn’t penetrate the scalp. While applying the relaxer, make sure the relaxer doesn’t come in contact with the scalp. I usually protect he client’s ears, neck and forehead as well with Vaseline as there is chance the relaxer could get in contact with the skin. Lye relaxers if applied properly can leave the hair silky and straight and also the hair will feel moisturized.
After applying the Vaseline in the skin areas, the relaxer is applied. The amount of time a relaxer can be left in the hair depends in individual’s hair type and your stylist would be able to determine that. You should have a brief idea on how long it should be left based in the stand test. Any stylist performing relaxing process should do a strand test in the best interest of the client. If the stylist is not happy or unwilling to do that, my suggestion would be to look for a different stylist.
After the relaxer has been left in the hair for desired amount of time the relaxer should be washed away with the neutraliser to remove all the chemical residues that have been left in the hair. Condition your hair after the relaxing process and also on a regular basis. You might have to touch up the new growth every 6 to 8 weeks depending on your hair growth rate.
Here are some popular brands of Lye relaxers:
- Avlon – Affirm Creme Relaxer
- Mizani Butter Blen Medium /Normal Relaxer
- Linange Shea Butter Relaxer
- Silk Elements MegaSilk Olive Oil Relaxer
- Revlon Professional Conditioning Creme Relaxer
As always, don’t forget the strand test.
No Lye Relaxers
No Lye relaxers are made up of a wide range of ingredients. This includes but not limited to calcium hydroxide, lithium hydroxide, ammonium hydroxide, guanidine carbonate etc. Whenever you are planning to apply a relaxer on an already processed (non-virgin hair) make sure your hair can withstand the chemical present in the relaxer you are planning to apply.
As some chemicals are not compatible with each other you should learn about the ingredient present in the relaxer and exercise caution before changing to a relaxer with different chemical as the primary ingredient. The steps for applying the no lye relaxers are same as the lye relaxers but some ingredients in the no lye relaxers are known to cause build ups and you should use a chelating shampoo and moisture it regularly. No Lye relaxer kits are available for home use and you can apply them at home by getting help from someone. Usually back of the head is hard to apply by yourself and that’s where the additional person might come in handy. Following the instructions present in the relaxer kit and don’t forget to do a strand test. Some No-Lye relaxers to consider:
- Dr. Miracle’s Feel It Formula Thermalceutical Intensive No-lye Relaxer
- Organic R/s Root Stimulator Olive Oil No-lye Relaxer
- Soft & Beautiful No-Lye Creme Relaxer System
- Avlon Affirm Fiberguard Sensitive Scalp Creme Relaxer
- Mizani Butter Blend Sensitive Scalp Rhelaxer
As always, don’t forget the strand test.