Relaxer 101 – Answers to Common Questions and Myths about Relaxers

1. Relaxers speed up the balding process in African-American Women

 Improper application and maintenance of relaxed hair can facilitate temporary hair thinning or loss, just  as improper application and maintenance of braids & weaves, thermal styling, etc.  Balding, however, is generally hereditary or associated with a medical condition.
 2.  Relaxers aren’t necessary for sleek straight strands.
   Sleek straight strands can be achieved using any number of procedures, tools and products.  Relaxers enhance permanency, consistency and longevity of sleek straight strands.
 3. Boxed relaxers vs. Professional relaxers what’s the difference?
 Boxed relaxers are directed toward the consumer, so quantity is generally limited to the amount needed for a single “average” retouch.  Strengths and formulas may vary widely since they are designated for “untrained” use.
 4. A kiddie perm is safer than a regular strength relaxer
 The safety of any chemical that changes the hair structure is dependent on many factors: condition & texture of the hair & scalp, application process, maintenance, and even age, or existing medical conditions to list a few.
 5. A relaxer must be maintained for life to ensure hair health. 
A relaxer does not necessarily have to be “maintained” for life.  However, one should not haphazardly switch between relaxing and not relaxing.  This can lead to breakage, improper relaxation or over processing.   Consider cutting relaxed hair after a few months of going natural and definitely consult your stylist when stopping your relaxer.  They can help you minimize damage and hair loss.
6. A chemical relaxer breaks down the hair
 A chemical relaxer breaks microscopic linkages that make up hair texture and then re-links them differently to create a new texture.
 7. It’s ok for your relaxer to burn a bit during the application process, it means it’s processing
  If your relaxer burns it means it is processing, and potentially damaging,  your skin – not the intended use for relaxers. Basing creams and profesional application help prevent relaxer contact with skin.
 8. If any new growth has appeared, it’s safe to relax it.
 Just the “appearance” of new growth is not grounds to relax.  Use products to soften and lubricate new growth until you have at least  ½” – 1″ new growth before relaxing. (This generally equates to 6-8 weeks between relaxers.)
 9. It’s safer to get a relaxer 3 times a year rather than every two months.
  For some textures it is advisable to have relaxers 3 times/ year or even less.  For others, the contrast in texture may be too great and cause breakage if waiting too long between relaxers.
 10. It’s alright to relax a child’s hair under the age of 10.
Generally it is best not to relax the hair of children under the age of 10. Many times the hair texture will change on it’s own or when assisted with the right maintenance products.  In some cases heat styling my be required, but this too should be used in moderation.  Discuss with a professional the best way to maintain your child’s hair based on texture and condition.