1. What types of relaxers are available and what is the difference between them?
Hair relaxers are most commonly available in two types: lye relaxers and no-lye relaxers.
Lye relaxers are known to work quickly, but as a result they might also rinse out more easily. Their main ingredients are sodium or potassium hydroxide and they’re also known as “alkali” relaxers. Lye relaxers have a higher pH level than no-lye ones and are the stronger of the two options. They are ready to apply when bought, but because of their strength it’s advisable to consult a salon professional before using them.
Try: ORS Olive Oil Lye creme relaxer, R19.
The main ingredient in no-lye relaxers is calcium hydroxide, which can be drying for the hair and is best suited for those with sensitive scalps. When using a no-lye product, it’s imperative that you use a decalcifying shampoo to prevent calcium build-up. They sometimes include an activator step – when you mix a separate liquid into the relaxer.
Try: Dark and Lovely Regular relaxer, R75.
2. Should you use no-lye relaxers at home?
Yes, it’s possible to use no-lye relaxers at home and hair should be relaxed according to the product’s directions.
Although getting your hair relaxed by a professional may be expensive, it’s the best option if you decide to relax at all. Putting any sort of strong chemicals onto your hair can result in damage if not done correctly. It requires careful attention that a professional can give. Also, a stylist can assess which type of relaxer is best for you. Apart from their experience, a good stylist will keep a record of what treatments you’ve had before.
3. Which is the best relaxer type and why?
The best relaxer for one person is not necessarily the best for another. There are various aspects to consider when making that decision, which vary depending on your hair type. You need to know and understand your hair type and texture in order to know what works best for you.
READ MORE: How to stretch your relaxers
4. Can you undo a protective style, such as braids, one day and relax the following day?
Hair care 101 maintains that the scalp needs a break of about seven days before any chemical applications as the scalp is still sensitive. Sometimes women are more concerned with attaining a specific style than they are with the health of their hair, which is why you need to have a reliable stylist who’ll be able to guide you and make sure the health of your hair isn’t comprised. For some hairstylists though, balancing the professional code with keeping their business afloat can be challenging and they may bend these rules, which isn’t advisable.
READ MORE: Six qualities to look for in a hairstylist
5. How can you keep relaxed hair healthy and strong?
Shampoo: Clean your hair and scalp at least twice a month with a moisture-based shampoo to get rid of product build-up and excessive oils. Keeping the scalp healthy is of the utmost importance to prevent dry scalp, which results in dry flakes, itchiness and hair bad odour.
DESTINY loves: Moroccan Oil Hydrating Shampoo, R270.
Moisture: Moisturising your hair should happen immediately after you shampoo. Your shampoo day is the first chance to set the foundation for moisture throughout the week after your cleanse. Avoid products that contain petroleum and mineral oil as these can coat the hair, making it feel heavier. The Mizani Butter Rich Nourishing Hairdress, R181, is a great moisturiser for everyday use.
Conditioning: It’s recommended that you deep condition your hair at least once a month with a nourishing product like the Dark and Lovely Amla Legend Deep Treatment, R80. When deep conditioning the hair, you should apply heat so that the product penetrates more deeply. Your heat source can be anything from a plastic bag to a warm towel and even an overhead dryer.
6. Is it still important to do protein-moisture treatments when you have relaxed hair?
Yes. The hair is predominantly made up of 70-80% protein and 15-20% water, so they both play an important role in the care and health of our hair. Protein provides the strength while moisture provides elasticity, softness and shine to the hair. In order for your hair to be healthy and grow, you must discover the perfect balance between the two. Because relaxed hair can be very porous and dry, it’s crucial that you moisturise daily and also use leave-in conditioners. Even wetting your hair with water will add moisture to your hair, but remember to seal that moisture with an oil, hair food or butter.