Mischo Beauty School: Hair Relaxers 101

I've recently received a few questions on the difference between "lye" and "no lye" relaxers, so I've decided to answer the questions in a blog post. So, let's understand the difference between "lye" and "no lye" relaxers. In general, relaxers break certain chemical bonds in the hair so that they aren't able to reform. This simply means that hair that was once curly, is now permanently straightened.

Certain relaxers use a chemical called "lye" to break the bonds in the hair. "Lye" is a very strong chemical base that will burn your skin and damage your hair if not used correctly. With "no lye" relaxers, another chemical is used in the place of lye and is considered a medium strength base. Research has shown that the use of "no lye" relaxers results in less scalp irritation, but the same safety rules apply. Both types of relaxers will burn your scalp if used incorrectly and it's wrong to assume that compared to "lye" relaxers, "no lye" relaxers take the worry out of straightening your hair. Both types of relaxers contain caustic chemicals.

If you choose to apply your own relaxer, please ask for help! I'll say that again- if you choose to apply your own relaxer, ask for help! You aren't able to see and reach the top and back of your hair and this could lead to an improper application of the relaxer. Also, making sure that the relaxer is thoroughly rinsed can be a challenge. Relaxers should be used according to the manufacturer's directions, left on no longer than the suggested time, carefully washed out with neutralizing shampoo, and followed up with regular conditioning.

Any questions? I'd love to hear your relaxer stories! Love your hair.



Anonymous said...

Isnt it true that whhile both types tend to dry out the hair shaft, no lye relaxers can be more drying that lye relaxers?

January 26, 2009 at 10:16 PM
Anonymous said...

oh and thanks for this post Mischo!

January 26, 2009 at 10:16 PM
Kim @ A Life of Style said...

Great post! My stylist uses Avlon Dry & Itchy on my hair. That's the relaxer I've had for the past three years and I love it.

January 27, 2009 at 9:08 AM
andrea said...

i noticed you posted a picture of the phytospecific relaxer.. do you recommend it?

January 27, 2009 at 7:20 PM
Shalon said...

I had this relaxer two years ago and I must admit that it made my hair dry and thin, but maybe i am just sensitive to relaxers. I did not notice any difference in this relaxer than any other one that I have had in my life. I was getting this treatment at a salon and it is very expensive, $160 to be exact, another reason to let it go.

My horror perm story is when I tried to relax my own hair and overprocessed it trying to get it bone straight. The results left my hair feeling and looking like straw and I had to get it all cut off. I WILL NEVER RELAX MY HAIR AGAIN.

January 28, 2009 at 9:37 AM
Mischo Beauty said...

To "Anonymous": You're right! Which just goes to show that there are "pros" and "cons" with both types of relaxers...:)

February 2, 2009 at 8:14 PM
Mischo Beauty said...

To "Anonymous": You're welcome! :)

February 2, 2009 at 8:15 PM
Mischo Beauty said...

To "Kim @ A Life of Style": Good to hear that- I'm glad you've found one that works for your hair type! :)

February 2, 2009 at 8:16 PM
Mischo Beauty said...

To "andrea": While I haven't used it personally, I've heard great things about it. :)

February 2, 2009 at 8:23 PM
Mischo Beauty said...

To "Shalon": So sorry to hear that...but like you, I've also had crazy things happen when relaxing my own hair! I'm almost relaxer free right now, but if I decide to relax my hair again, I'll definitely ask for help! :)

February 2, 2009 at 8:27 PM

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