Choosing the best hair relaxer depends upon hair texture, ease of application, and general state of hair health. If hair is not in good condition, choosing a no-lye or organic hair relaxer may be the best choice. A common ingredient in a hair relaxer is lye. Although effective in relaxing the hair, relaxers that contain lye can cause irritation and scalp burns. Many people prefer a lye-based hair relaxer because it can help the hair retain moisture.
Sometimes a no-lye hair relaxer is preferred over lye-based products. These are typically sold in boxes that contain shampoo, relaxer cream, conditioner, and activator. In addition, the box typically contains protective gloves and an applicator. Sometimes, no-lye hair relaxers can be drying to the hair, but since they are gentler on the scalp than products containing lye, they are often preferred.
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Applying a hair relaxer is not a complicated process. Hair should be healthy prior to the application. If it's not, all attempts should be made to get the hair back in top condition before relaxing it. The process should be done in accordance with packaging directions and time requirements should be followed precisely. Keeping the product on for more than the recommended period of time may result in hair breakage and other scalp injury.
As new hair growth appears, another application may be desired. It is recommended that six weeks go by before other application is performed. Typically, however, most hair care professionals recommend that at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) of hair growth be present before another treatment is applied. The hair relaxer should only be applied to the new hair growth so that the remainder of the formerly processed hair will not get damaged.
Prior to relaxing the hair, a strand test should be done to determine if a person will have an allergic reaction to the product. In addition, the test can help determine how long the product needs to stay on the hair to achieve the desired results. Relaxers should not be used on the hair of children who are six or younger. Also, if the relaxer gets into the eyes, flushing them with copious amounts of water may be necessary, as may visiting an eye doctor.
If a weaker relaxer is preferred, people can purchase a product that reads "mild" on the box. It is important to note that a children's hair relaxer is not less damaging to the hair and should not be used when a mild solution is preferred. If the relaxer causes a scalp burn or other irritation, a doctor should be consulted. At the first sign of burning or irritation, the scalp should be thoroughly washed to remove any traces of the product to avoid further injury.