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Comparabooblog | March 29, 2017

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Your Guide To Buying a Hair Relaxer

Affirm Hair Relaxer Softsheen Carson Hair Relaxer Mizani Hair Relaxer
Yehuda Posnick

The first hair relaxer was invented by Garret A. Morgan in 1909. He noticed that chemicals that were used to reduce friction in a sewing machine’s needle would also take the curls out of hair. It works by weakening the protein structures in the hair and loosening the curls. But the chemicals that were used originally were very caustic. They contained lye (sodium hydroxide) and other highly alkaline substances, which had to be washed out of the hair quickly after treatment, so as to avoid hair damage and hair loss. Over time, chemists developed more gentle substances. It’s good to know what options there are nowadays, and how to apply them. Here is a guide to some of the best hair relaxers on the market.

Avlon's Affirm: FiberGuard Relaxer - Normal, 64 oz

Avlon’s Affirm: FiberGuard Relaxer – Normal, 64 oz

Hair Relaxer Types

  • Lye relaxers: If you see “sodium hydroxide” on the ingredients of the hair relaxer, that indicates that it contains lye. These type of relaxers work quickly, but also rinse out of the hair easily. They come in a range of pHs, between 10 and 14. (As a reminder, 7 is the pH of water—not acidic and not alkali. 14 is the most alkaline possible.)

  • No-Lye relaxers: The main ingredient in these relaxers can be calcium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, lithium hydroxide, ammonium thioglycolate, or guanidine hydroxide. These dries out the hair and remove the natural oils, but are less caustic and better for people with sensitive scalp. There are also relaxers that are even less caustic, where the active ingredient is ammonium sulfite.

    Softsheen Carson Optimum Multimineral Relaxer, Super Strength

    Softsheen Carson Optimum Multimineral Relaxer, Super Strength

What People Are Saying

Based on all the consumers’ reviews we’ve scanned, these are the top things they mentioned about their new stuff:

  • Save money: One woman said that each visit to a hairdresser costs $60. That’s enough money to buy hair relaxer for a year. (Remember that you only will need it every 2-3 months, when new hair grows in.) But maybe it’s best to consult an expert, to know which type of relaxer is best.

  • Match the relaxer to the type of hair: Women with thick, coarse hair can take the risk of using more harsh relaxers (They come in mild, normal and resistant “flavors”). But one woman was afraid that the mild version of the Affirm FiberGuard Relaxer wouldn’t do the job. She was pleasantly surprised to see that it worked. Also, Mizani makes relaxers with three strengths: fine/color treated, medium/normal, and coarse/resistant. So you can experiment to see which is best.

Mizani Hair Relaxer

Mizani Butter Blend Relaxer

Useful Tips for Shoppers

  • Steps in applying a relaxer: There are four steps to applying a relaxer (You’ll see them referred to as “Step 1”, “Step 2”, etc.):

  1. Applying a pre-relaxer protector—This may contain oil and petroleum, to guard against irritation.

  2. Applying the relaxer

  3. Applying a pH normalizer—These are conditioners to restore natural pH of the hair.

  4. Using a cleanser to remove any residue alkali, and to soften and condition the hair.

  • Referring to a professional: It’s expensive to have a hair stylist apply a relaxer to your hair. But there are certain tips that s/he can give that you would otherwise miss. You can ask a hair stylist to assess your hair strength, to know if your hair won’t get damaged from a relaxer, and which relaxer is best for you. Before applying relaxer at home, consult a professional first—or even let them do it the first time.

  • Care when using a relaxer: Hair relaxer can cause irritation if it comes in contact with the scalp. There are creams that are applied (called “bases”) to the scalp prior to using a relaxer, to prevent any burns. Sometimes vaseline is sufficient to protect the scalp. Even so, it’s best to exercise care when applying a relaxer.

  • Diluting the relaxer: If the relaxer is too harsh, some mix it with a few drops of essential oils to dilute it.

  • How often to apply relaxer: When you use a relaxer, the hair is permanently straightened. But that won’t have any effect on new hair that grows in. For this reason, you will have to apply relaxer again in 8-12 weeks, to straighten out the new growth. If you have hair that is longer than shoulder-length, you can wait from 12-16 weeks to do a another relaxer treatment.

  • After relaxer treatment: Since relaxers are typically alkaline, it’s good to apply something that’s acidic, to balance out the pH level afterwards. Some women apply apple cider vinegar to their scalp—it’s acidic enough to cancel out the alkaline nature of the relaxer. There are also hair reconstructing creams and shampoos which are special for repairing damaged hair. Hair moisturizers are also recommended, to compensate for the dryness that results after a hair relaxer.

Top Brands

H.Y. Vitaminswas founded by Izik Shir in Jerusalem in 1939. Mr. Shir started making his own hair care products from natural elements. The company later started making a line of hair cosmetics: shampoos, conditioners, serums, relaxers, and more.

Optimum Careis a line of hair products made by Softsheen Carson Laboratories. They have been making beauty products since 1906, and are based in Shelton, Connecticut. They employ top scientists to ensure that their products are safe, reliable and high-quality.

Affirmis a brand of Avlon Industries. It was founded in 1984 by Dr. Ali Syed, a research chemist who has published many scientific articles and patents. His hair care products are made with an eye on the science behind the product, as well as on cosmetics and aesthetics.

Mizaniis a beauty products brand, founded in 1991 by Soft Sheen and Redken Laboratories. (Mizani meand “balance” in Swahili—indicating how the company seeks to balance beauty and chemistry.) They were originally part of the Soft-Sheen Carson group in Chicago. They are now a division of L’Oreal, with a line of hair treatments, relaxers, shampoos, conditioners, and styling products.

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