What Is Hair Relaxer?

Ready To Switch To Relaxed Hair?


It’s 2018, the year of new beginnings! For one person, it might mean a new look. For another it may be a new hairstyle. For you, it’s something you never thought you would even consider, as in, seriously. You’ve always worn your hair natural, and just figured it would remain so, for eternity. But that was then, and this is now…

Knowing how much time it takes to style your natural hair, you’re entertaining the idea of relaxing your hair. After all, new beginnings require new moves, right?

But before committing to this relaxed hair thing, you want some more information. You want to know what to expect.

What Is Hair Relaxer?

A relaxer is a lotion or cream that’s used to chemically straighten curly, coily or kinky hair. By straighten, we mean that the natural curl pattern of the hair is loosened to the point that it is relaxed, or made straight. Bear in mind though,that relaxed hair does not have to be completely straightened. This part is a matter of choice, often depending on the result that you want, and more importantly, the current condition of your hair. The longer you leave it in, the straighter your hair becomes.

What Does A Relaxer Do To Your Hair?

The active ingredient in a relaxer (lye), will often be a strong alkali, though this does not apply to all relaxers. There are other relaxer formulations that are no-lye, and are based on ammonium thioglycolate.

Don’t confuse a relaxer with a perm. Sometimes people use the two terms synonymously. Yet, they are different because while a perm also chemically alters your natural hair when the formula is applied to it, the results are curls or waves. This is not the case with relaxer. The aim of relaxing hair is to obtain straight, not curly hair.

Origin Of The Hair Relaxer

Although there are different types, the relaxer as we know it today was developed by an
African American named Garrett Augustus Morgan. He discovered that when certain chemicals penetrated the cortical layer, they had the ability to change the structure of the hair. He stumbled upon this discovery while he was trying to solve a totally unrelated problem. This accidental experiment was a wild success because for many women it represented a quick solution to achieving that much sought after straightened effect, while by-passing the massive amounts of greasy oils, not to mention the amount of time spent using a straightening comb, in order to achieve the same (temporary) result.

Why Women Relax Their Hair

Everyday women choose to relax their hair for different reasons. Here are a just few:

Manageability – omen (and men) choose to relax their hair in a quest for a new look. Going from natural hair to straightened hair that’s easier to handle and manage, will be a major achievement.

Easy Styling – Natural hair though it can be, is not always hard to manage. But when it comes to relaxed hair, the possibilities for styling and creating new looks are absolutely endless on short, medium, or long relaxed hair.

To Avoid Workplace Issues – The truth is that braids and other ways of wearing natural hair, are still controversial in many workplaces. There is the idea of the politics of black hair. Some embrace the controversy, but you may not want to . It just makes sense to not go looking for workplace conflicts.

Tired of The Combing Routine – It might not take that long, but doing it over and over again gets boring after you’ve done it for so long.

Hair Is Too Thick and Truly Wild (no exaggeration) – Sometimes the decision to relax is purely practical. Those who don’t have this kind of hair may not be able to relate. But if you have to fight with your hair everyday, sometimes it makes sense to just give in gracefully, especially if there are other options that bring peace to you and your hair.

Appearance – Many have become unwilling converts to relaxed hair because they had to admit that it looked great on their friends, even better than when they had natural hair. So, they decided to try it.

Maturity – If you’ve ever been seventeen, trying to look 25, you might be able to relate to this. Sometimes it actually does help to look a little older.

What to expect when you relax your hair

When a decision needs to be made, having good information helps. So, if you’re a visual sort of person, this short video will help paint a clearer picture of what to expect when you relax your natural hair for the first time.

Maybe this isn’t your first time relaxing your hair. You’ve taken a break but now you’re thinking of getting back in the game. It always helps when you know you’re not alone.

Others have traveled down this path. Here’s one person’s journey:

Choosing A Relaxer

There are different types of relaxer on the market – lye and no-lye relaxers. The active ingredients in lye relaxers is sodium hydroxide, while the active ingredient in no-lye relaxers is calcium hydroxide.

Since no-lye relaxers are milder, they’re considered better for sensitive scalps. Most home relaxer kits are no-lye.

There are relaxers on the market for regular, coarse, damaged & color-treated hair. Although the way relaxers work is fundamentally the same, some are preferred over others.

A word of caution: Leaving relaxer on the hair for too long (over-processing) can cause damage and breakage.

Want to Relax Your Hair? Here is a Summary:

If you’re seriously contemplating relaxing your hair, here’s a quick overview of what this can mean for you:

Increased manageability – Your hair will be so much straighter, meaning that you’ll have limitless ways to style and wear your hair. This is one of the top reasons women relax their hair.

Reliability – Your hair will not revert to its natural state if it gets wet, or even if the sun is too hot, saving you time styling it again, not to mention the unnecessary stress.

Cost Savings – Most relaxers, even the ones that are somewhat pricey, are really not that expensive when compared with other popular options, such as wearing virgin hair.

Easy to match – There are different types of hair and hair textures. Yet, because there are so many relaxer products to choose from, you’re sure to find the one that’s most suitable for your hair. Thankfully, relaxers are not a one size fits all. From coarse, to fine, to damaged, there’s a relaxer type for every kind.

Time Saving – The process of relaxing your hair is very straightforward and does not take a lot of time. This is another big plus, especially for women who simply don’t have the time to spend on their hair.

You can DIY – That’s why you have so many options for relaxer products. From jars, to kits, you can relax your hair yourself. Although, you will need to follow the manufacturers instructions, these are generally not complicated. You can also check out our article on how to relax your hair

BHS is your resource center for ALL things black hair. Over here, we keep it one hundred, because we want the best for your hair. Do you straighten your hair? Why or why not?

Leave us a comment or ask us a question. We’ll point you in the right direction.