Discovering ‘what is relaxed hair’ can feel akin to opening a Pandora’s box of information. From its chemical composition to its unique styling potential, relaxed hair is a fascinating subject that’s worth exploring in-depth. So, let’s delve into this fascinating world and shed some light on the mysteries of relaxed hair.
A Brief Introduction to Relaxed Hair
When considering the question, ‘what is relaxed hair,’ it’s essential to understand the fundamental process behind hair relaxation. Hair relaxation is a hair treatment that uses chemicals to permanently straighten naturally curly hair. It’s a popular choice for those struggling with unmanageable curls or simply those who prefer straight hair.
The process involves a chemical relaxer lotion applied to the hair, which alters the hair’s natural structure, resulting in a smoother, straighter texture. This process is permanent, with touch-ups required for new growth every 6-8 weeks.
The Chemistry Behind Hair Relaxing
Chemical treatments like hair relaxing work by fundamentally altering the hair’s structure. The key players in this process are proteins known as keratins, which make up the majority of the hair strand. The keratin proteins are tightly packed together and held in place by bonds, including disulfide bonds that give the hair its natural curl pattern.
Hair relaxers work by breaking these disulfide bonds, a process known as reduction. This is achieved with the aid of a powerful alkaline chemical, often sodium hydroxide (lye) or calcium hydroxide (no-lye). The hair is then physically straightened, and a neutralizing agent is applied to reform the disulfide bonds, locking the hair in its new, straightened position. This process is called oxidation.
Types of Hair Relaxers
There are three main types of chemical-based hair relaxers: lye relaxers, no-lye relaxers, and thio relaxers.
- Lye relaxers: The main ingredient in lye relaxers is sodium hydroxide. They are known for their effectiveness but can also be harsh on the scalp and hair if not properly used
- No-lye relaxers: These relaxers contain calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate. They are gentler on the scalp but can leave a calcium buildup on the hair, making it prone to dryness
- Thio relaxers: Thio relaxers contain thioglycolic acid salts and are generally less harsh than lye and no-lye relaxers. However, they are not as effective at straightening hair
It’s crucial to select the type of relaxer that best suits your hair type and condition. It’s always advisable to consult with a professional before deciding on a hair relaxer.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Relaxed Hair
Relaxing your hair has several potential benefits, including fewer tangles, no need for constant stretching, time-saving, reduced frizz, and style versatility. However, it’s important to note that relaxed hair also comes with its drawbacks.
One of the main concerns with relaxed hair is the potential for damage. The process of relaxing hair can be particularly harsh, leading to hair breakage, thinning, and damage to the scalp if not done correctly. For this reason, it’s always recommended to have a professional apply relaxers.
Furthermore, relaxed hair requires regular touch-ups to maintain the straightened appearance. This can be time-consuming and costly, as the touch-ups should ideally be done every 6-8 weeks.
Natural Hair vs. Relaxed Hair: A Comparative Analysis
When comparing natural hair to relaxed hair, it’s important to understand the inherent differences between the two.
Natural hair refers to hair that hasn’t been chemically altered. It presents itself in its purest form, with its natural kinks, curls, and waves.
Pros of Natural Hair:
- Can withstand chemical treatments
- Has more volume than relaxed hair
- Less prone to breakage
Cons of Natural Hair:
- Tends to tangle easily due to its natural thickness
- Requires more time, effort, and money for maintenance
- Combing natural hair can be time-consuming
Relaxed hair, on the other hand, has been chemically treated to permanently straighten its natural curls.
Pros of Relaxed Hair:
- Easier to comb and detangle
- Simple to style and requires less daily maintenance
- Resistant to frizz and remains straightened
Cons of Relaxed Hair:
- More prone to damage due to the chemical treatment
- Can look weak and unhealthy over time
- May cause permanent scalp damage
- More prone to breakage
While both natural and relaxed hair have their pros and cons, the choice between the two often boils down to personal preference, lifestyle, and hair care routine.
Tips for Maintaining Natural Hair and Relaxed Hair
Regardless of whether you choose to relax your hair or keep it natural, proper hair maintenance is crucial to ensure the health and longevity of your hair. Here are some tips for maintaining both natural and relaxed hair.
- Ensure a balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and other essential nutrients to nourish your hair.
- Use hair combs specific to your hair type and detangle your hair slowly
- Begin detangling from the hair ends and slowly work your way up to the roots to minimize hair breakage.
- Regularly moisturize your natural hair, as it tends to lose moisture rapidly and may dry up fast
- Massage your scalp regularly to stimulate blood circulation and encourage hair growth
- Understand your hair products well. Have an in-depth conversation with your hairstylist to understand the different products and processes involved in relaxing your hair
- Maintain a consistent schedule for relaxing your hair. It’s recommended to relax the new hair growth every 8-10 weeks to prevent any breakage
- Cleanse and moisturize your scalp regularly to ensure healthy hair growth
- Trim damaged hair ends regularly to ensure normal hair growth
- Moisturize and condition your relaxed hair regularly, as it may also get dry easily
Understanding ‘what is relaxed hair’ provides the knowledge necessary for making informed decisions about hair care and styling. Whether you choose to relax your hair or keep it natural, the most important thing is to take proper care of your hair. With the right maintenance and care, both natural and relaxed hair can look and feel healthy, beautiful, and uniquely you.