How Relaxers Work

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I have curly/ethnic/black girl (whatever you want to call it) hair and I use a chemical relaxer to straighten it. I usually go a little over a month without one until my roots grow in. Once my hair has been relaxed it can't go back to the way it grew in. I've been getting relaxers since I was little and I have no idea what my natural hair looks like. I would have to grow a new head of hair, and cut the relaxed ends of to actually see what it looks like. All of this sounds so extreme and I've never really understood how a relaxer works.

It turns out that the main components that make hair curly are amino acids called cysteines. These are broken down by the relaxer and "cap them so that they cannot chemically reform. " The active ingredient in relaxers that do this is lye (sodium hydroxide) but it can also burn your skin and permanently damage your skin. I've always known that if you leave a relaxer in for too long you run the risk of burning your scalp and/or hair. I've recently been looking into relaxing alternatives.


In my search for sodium hydroxide replacements, I found out that there are non-chemical relaxers. "Non-chemical hair relaxer works a little differently than most others. The results are gradual, not immediate, giving you more control over how relaxed you want your hair. The more often you use it, the more relaxed the hair becomes. It is non-alkaline and balances the pH in the hair" (


1 Comment

Like Taylor, I have been relaxing my hair for the majority of my life, but since I started coming here, I've been braiding my hair just because there's less maintenance involved. I have noticed however that when I take out my braids, I have to get a "virgin" relaxer all over again. My hair pretty much returns back to its pre-relaxed state after having it braided for months at a time. I personally have not found a reason as to why this happens, but if you find anything, I'd be glad to find out

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