Recommending Relaxers

Hi everyone, thank you for joining me today for my Tuesday Hair post.

Last week, I was watching this lady on YouTube giving an account of her traumatic experience in using relaxers. Her hair was type 3a, big curls, relatively thick that was chemically dyed, and she was desperate to get it permanently straight. So she walked into her local Boots (pharmacist), and brought a dark and lovely relaxer, went home and applied it. She said that when she started washing it out, she was running her fingers through her hair and clumps of hair was coming out with it. Her scalp was sore, her hair felt like straw and she didn’t know what was wrong. She went to her hairdressers the very next day, and they had to cut a large majority of her hair off. Her fringe was pretty much non-existent and her ends still looked scraggily, but it was the best they can offer as a result of the damage done to her hair. She then went on to say, “she now knows how much of a stupid thing she did,” as people are constantly telling her the damage of relaxing hair, now that it is too late.

I hear these stories all the time. Whilst one part of me feels so bad for these ladies who have traumatically lost their hair and have major damage due to relaxing their hair, a small kind of evil side of me wants to just roll my eyes… Relaxing hair although largely compared isn’t anything like dying hair. It isn’t the kind of thing you walk into a shop, choose a brand and just do. It needs to be done by a professional, or at least someone who truly knows what they are doing, or understands your hair. There are thousands upon thousands of relaxers on the market, and there are different types for a reason. If you understand your hair, know your scalp and know the strength, that is where you should start. I am going to give a few tips today on choosing a suitable relaxer or permanent hair straightening method depending on your hair.


NO-LYE vs LYE Relaxers

I had relaxed my hair for years with a lye relaxer before understanding the difference between the two.

  1. Lye Relaxers are pre-packaged. In other words, it requires no mixing and is ready to use straight away, while No-Lye relaxers come in a little kit where you have to make up the mixture to activate it.
  2. No-Lye relaxers are harsh on hair but is gentle on the scalp, whereas Lye relaxers is gentle on hair, but harsh on the scalp. If you have a very sensitive scalp, No-Lye relaxers are generally better because they are gentler. However, you might find your hair to be a bit more course and dry after use on hair, whereas a lye relaxer will leave hair softer.
  3. Lye relaxers have a high pH balance between 13 and 14, whereas No-Lye relaxers are a lot lower. Of course, when using a Lye relaxer, a neutralising shampoo of a very low pH balance is of necessity in getting your hair back to its original state of pH 7.
  4. Both relaxers leave mineral deposits on hair. Lye relaxers leave mineral deposits from chemicals however helping hair to feel more soft.
  5. Lye Relaxers chemical compound is Sodium Hydroxide, No-Lye relaxers Guandine hydroxide.
  6. Lye relaxers are great for thick and course type 4 hair, No-Lye relaxers are good for finer type 4 hair.


I normally use no-lye relaxers, and would always prefer to use them in the hair dressers. Most good relaxer brands come with deep treatment products to use after relaxing to get rid of the dryness and help to soften hair. If they don’t, I would recommend doing a wash with a chelating shampoo after using your assigned neutralising shampoo. Chelating shampoos is a stronger version of a clarifying shampoo, which is great at thoroughly cleaning and taking out products from your hair. This includes mineral deposits left after relaxing which is what leaves the hair feeling dry. Also great to use if you live in a hard water area to wash hair with every now and again.

I have used lye relaxers in the past as previously mentioned, and with these I am happy to use them at home and/or in a salon. It is so important to use a scalp protector before using these relaxers to help protect against potential scalp damage. Additionally, preparing the scalp before relaxing with treatments is a good idea. When putting on the relaxer, make sure to start with the thickest area of your hair first, then make your way to thinner areas like bottom back and top front.


Relaxing dyed hair

People always make the mistake to assume that either, they should never do both, or that they can do both and not change their hair treatments in the slightest. It is very recommendable that if hair is coloured post relaxing that a no-lye relaxer should be considered, but an even better choice is a no-lye relaxer specific to dyed hair, because they do exist. There is a relaxer called PhytoSpecific PhytoRelaxer, which as the name suggests is a plant based relaxer for a very sensitive scalp and weakened hair shaft. This relaxer also works on strengthening hair, with the use of protein taken from soya beans, and Marshmallow for flexibility and strength. There are many relaxers out there suitable for dyed hair, have a research for yourself, or consult a professional for the one that sounds best for you.


Can I ever relax my hair if it is type 2 or type 3?

The answer is yes to an extent. Research is a must, and of course it is permanent so you should be sure. I would recommend anyone with type 3 or type 2 hair who wants to permanently straighten it to have a look at Brazillian Blow drying. If you are not a fan of all the constant heat, Japanese permanent hair straightening is also a great option. before and after

This is an example of the before and after results from Japanese permanent hair straightening. Works just like a relaxer, it is a chemical process, that is designed for curly, wavey and prone-to frizz hair types. Just as a normal relaxer there are different types depending on scalp and hair. Would definitely recommend a professional doing it, and again be sure to do research first before taking the step.

Picture is taken from here where you can also get the treatment done if you live in London UK.


Do remember that relaxing or permanently straightening hair isn’t a one time treatment. It needs to be cared for and maintained afterwards as it is a chemical treatment and in the case of a Brazilian Blow Dry, which is a lot of heat. Try to make sure pH of hair is always level (check the pH of shampoos and conditioners), be sure to moisturise the hair, use your oils and hair serums and try to keep it up.


Many Thanks for reading, and I hope this post was of help to some of you out there. Please as always feel free to ask me anything, or if you feel like I have missed something do let me know. Otherwise will hopefully see you Saturday. Tarah for now




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