Thursday, March 27, 2008

Most Common Reasons for Breakage When Using Relaxers

Why are so many African American women experiencing problems with their hair? It could be due to the fact that about 95% of us use chemical relaxers in our hair. These are the most common reasons women experience breakage when using chemical relaxers.

Applying relaxers to damaged hair. Relaxers should never be applied to already damaged hair, or on someone who has had scalp damage. Hair should be in its best shape before attempting to chemically relax it. This means that the porosity and moisture content should be normal. If hair is not at its best, then protein and moisture treatments should be used to restore the hair to a healthy condition. The relaxer should not be applied until these issues have been completely resolved. A hair analysis can be used to determine if porosity and moisture content is normal.

Over processing the hair. Excessive use of relaxers or applying the chemical to previously relaxed hair, is the most typical misuse of these chemicals.

Not performing a strand test. A “strand test” should be performed prior to applying a chemical relaxer to gauge the result of applying the chemical.

Not using a protective cream on the scalp. A protective cream should always be applied to help protect the scalp from being damaged or burned.

Not properly neutralizing the hair. After the hair has been processed for the appropriate amount of time, the relaxer must be completely removed with warm water. Then a neutralizing formula is used to lower the pH of the hair. If the pH is not lowered, the hair will break. This is because the chemical will continue to work on the hair strand weakening it further.

Pulling or Combing Hair While Relaxing. From the time the relaxer is applied to the time it is neutralized, the hair is in an extremely fragile condition and must be handled carefully. Avoid all pulling, tugging, and excessive combing of the hair during this time.

Not using protein and moisture treatments. Protein and Moisture treatments should be used to restore some of the natural moisture and proteins that have been stripped from the hair by the relaxer.

Not moisturizing daily. Daily moisture is needed to keep the hair soft and supple. If newly chemically straightened hair is not properly moisturized, it can become brittle, dry, damaged and break. Relaxed hair will tend to be drier and break easier than natural hair.

Using excessive heat. Excessive use of heat tools will only further damage chemically relaxed hair. This is due to the fact that they work by drying the hair our ever further. If heat tools are used, then they should be used along with thermal protectants. Use of heat tools should be limited as much as possible.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Relaxers Causing Problems for Black Hair Growth

Many black women have reported chemical relaxers to have caused hair breakage, hair thinning, lack of hair growth, scalp irritation, scalp damage, and hair loss.

Relaxers straighten the hair by breaking down protein bonds in naturally curly hair, and thus loosening the natural curl pattern. However, these protein bonds are what gives the hair its strength. When the hair is straightened, it actually changes the basic structure of the hair shaft. The chemicals penetrate the hair’s cortex and enter the inner layer of the hair. They go on breaking down the bonds and stripping the hair of its strength and elasticity. This is why breakage is commonly experienced by women who use relaxers.

Relaxers are made with very strong chemicals. In fact, the straightening effect of the chemicals used in relaxers was discovered by Garret Morgan while working on an invention for sewing machine lubricating liquid. The chemicals used in relaxers are also used in household drain cleaners. This demonstrates the strength and potential effect of these chemicals. The ph value of chemical relaxers vary from 10 to 14 and are very effective as a straightening solution. However, these very strong chemicals can cause severe damage to hair and skin.

Essentially, there are two basic types of chemical relaxers: Sodium Hydroxide (lye relaxers) and Guanidine Hydroxide (no lye relaxers). While it is common belief that no lye relaxers are not damaging, this is not true. Both of these types of relaxers can cause damage.

If you make the decision to chemically relax your hair, you need to make sure that you only allow it to process for the amount of time indicated on the instructions and that you properly neutralize. It is also important to use protein and moisture treatments to keep the hair strong. Follow these tips to keep hair healthy and promote faster hair growth.