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Identifying the best hair relaxer for your hair

Updated on January 25, 2012

If you have curly hair, then you probably want the sleek straight hair which would be easy to maintain without any fuss. Since the quest for straight hair has been increasing in popularity, the number of relaxers also have increased substantially over the past few years. With so many relaxers available in the market, it becomes a delimma to choose a relaxer that is best for your hair. Relaxers if not applied properly can cause long term damage to hair and scalp and utmost care should be taken while applying them. If you are not sure about how to apply a relaxer at home, it is better to get it done professionally.

Here are some basic steps to identify the best relaxer for your hair:

Understanding pH:

Most of the relaxers in the market are alkaline based, meaning they will have the pH of 8 or above with typical "lye" relaxers having pH of 12 and above. pH in the relaxer product determines how strong your relaxer is. If you feel your hair is very weak or sensitive to harsh chemicals then you need to choose a relaxer with low pH.

Lye Vs No-Lye

Relaxers are generally categorized into 2 types. "Lye" and "No-Lye"; Lye relaxers are usually based on Sodium Hydroxide and typically have the pH of 12 and above. It may not be be suitable for people with sensitive skin or scalp. "No-Lye" relaxers on the other hand or based ingredients other than Sodium Hydroxide. "No-Lye" relaxers are generally made of calcium hydroxide, guandinine hydroxide, guandinine carbonate, ammonium thiogycolate etc.."No-Lye" relaxers cause build up in the hair and hence can make the hair brittle and cause breakage. There is no safe proof option when it comes to relaxers. You have to analyse your hair type and choose a relaxer that would best suit your hair profile.
As a general rule of thumb, if you have sensitive skin "No-Lye" relaxers might be better option for you than lye relaxers. Otherwise, go for a "Lye" relaxer a it lets your hair to breathe and doesn't cause any build up.

Desired Outcome

When opting for relaxers some people would like a achieve a perfectly straight hair after the relaxing process. Some others might just want their curl pattern more defined and reduced.
Low pH relaxer would be the best option if you want the curl pattern to be reduced. Be clear about the results you are planning to achieve from the relaxing process and choose the relaxer accordingly.

Best Hair Relaxer application
Best Hair Relaxer application | Source

Relaxer Strength

After choosing the type of relaxer, next step is to identify your hair curl type. The curlier and kinkier your hair is, more should be the strength of relaxer. Relaxers typically come in 2 or more strengths. Look at the strengths offered for the relaxer you had shorlisted and choose the relaxer strength based on your hair type. Use the curly hair type chart to determine the type of your hair. Generally speaking, curls of type 4b and above would need medium to super strenghts achieve a straight hair.

Virgin Hair or Processed hair?

If you are applying relaxer for the first time, then your hair can tolerate the chemicals present in the relaxers. But,if your hair is already processed, then you had to choose the relaxer that is specifically designed for processed or damaged hair.

Strand Test

A very important but often overlooked step in the relaxing process is the strand test. If you are are getting your relaxing done by a professional this should be done prior to your appointment. Many people often tend to ignore this step, but you really can't and shouldn't take any chances with your hair.If you planning to do the relaxing yourself, just grab a small amount of relaxer and leave your hair sample in it for the time specified in the relaxer instructions. Look at the results and see whether the realxer has produced desired results on your hair. If you choose to use a "No-Lye" relaxer make sure you use a clarifying shampoo to get rid of the build up in the hair. The heavy metals like clacium needs to chelated in order for your hair to breathe. Not doing so might result in your hair becoming so brittle and prone to breakage.

Relaxers are made up of harsh chemicals and hence should always be used with caution. It is very important to do your homework prior to choosing a relaxer. Any wrong relaxer choice made will not only cause you stress but will take a long time to undo the damages caused. Affirm, Mizani, Phyto and Olive Oil are quite a few popular brands of relaxers and are liked by many people. Hope you choose the best relaxer for your hair and get the results you desire.


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      Bianca 3 years ago

      Hello there! : ) I'd recommend you use a (sulfate free) flattening shampoo and conditioner (sulfates dry out your hair) then after you condition it, pat your hair dry with a towel and use a pump of argan oil. It’ll smooth the frizz down and make your hair look nice and soft. It’s not oily or heavy, or at least the one I have isn’t, mine is by the Pro naturals brand which is only sold online. It doubles as a heat protectant too so your hair won't burn when you have it relaxed.

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      hairrelaxerformen 5 years ago

      Good Read..I think more research is needed by the consumers before relaxing their hair in order to prevemt any unwanted side effects...