What is a hair relaxer ?
A hair relaxer or chemical relaxers are popular with women who have either very curly or tightly coiled hair. Some women who have slightly wavy hair can also opt for this treatment and one of the main reasons for its popularity is that it can be maintained easily and give you more styling options. However, there are some risks if the treatment is not done correctly; it can result in scalp irritation, hair loss and breakage since a relaxer changes hair permanently.
How do Hair Relaxers work?
Hair relaxers work by breaking down protein bonds in the hair shaft in order to loosen curl patterns and thus relax them for a sleeker hair style. It reduces curl by altering the chemical structure of hair making the strands resistant to its original texture.
The results you get will vary depending on how coarse your hair is but your hair will remain sleek and straight for about 6 to 8 weeks after the treatment if you maintain it regularly. Even though the treatment alters hair structure, it has no effect on hair growth and you should see your natural wavy or curly hair within 2 to 3 months after the treatment.
Our hair strands are mostly made of keratin which is a protein and its chemical bonds are basically the building blocks that give our hair strength and texture. These bonds link with one another to make hair rigid like a ladder. The bonds are the rungs which hold the side rails of protein together. These bonds are called disulfide bonds and in order to straighten hair, those bonds need to broken permanently. That is what hair relaxers do.
There are two types you might come across, namely lye and no lye. The former contain sodium hydroxide which has a pH factor of about 14 or 10 while the latter is milder but it can also damage hair if it is not used correctly. Hair relaxers also come in a variety of strengths such as mild, super and regular and the one you choose should suit your hair texture for maximum effect and minimum damage.
Since hair relaxers are quite strong, try to avoid getting your hair relaxed no more than once a year. Since the protein bonds are broken, excess treatments can result in permanent hair loss, brittle hair, itchy scalps, scalp damage and chemical burns which can prevent new hair from emerging. If the treatment is abused it can also lead to scarring alopecia which is a permanent hair loss condition that burns the scalp. Whether you decide to have your hair relaxed with a hair relaxer treatment or not is your decision and it should be taken wisely. However, if you want to make your hair easier to manage due to a busy lifestyle, then go for it. You can create and rock any hairstyle with ease and even if your hair gets wet, it wont become frizzy.
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