Get Healthy Hair Now – What You Should Know About Chemical Relaxers (Perms)

22 July; Author: Hair Extensions Australia

Get Healthy Hair Now – What You Should Know About Chemical Relaxers (Perms)


Hair breakage, hair thinning, lack of hair growth, scalp irritation, scalp damage and hair loss – These are just some of the complaints from many who experience problems due to the misuse of chemical hair relaxers. In fact, the FDA lists hair straighteners and hair dyes among its top consumer complaint areas. Yet, in so many stores around the country, chemicals are available for everyone to use, without much instruction, a powerful process which transforms the basic chemical makeup of the hair strand.  Before beginning any hair treatment, especially one that introduces chemicals to your hair, you owe it to yourself to be well informed. Armed with a better understanding of this process, you will be able to make good decisions with regard to hair and scalp care.

If you have naturally tightly curled hair you have the option of styling it using products specifically designed for your hair type as it is, or the option to straighten the hair which opens up further hair styles to be available to you. However, chemically straightening the hair should be carefully thought out and thoroughly studied.  We have compiled essential information on chemical hair relaxers and urge you to read the following carefully and, if not for yourself, share it with a friend.

His name was Garrett Augustus Morgan and he was born the seventh of eleven children of former slaves. He is best known for his invention of the automatic traffic signal and gas mask. But it was around 1910 that he stumbled upon what would become his contribution to the hair care products industry and what would pave the way for several other entrepreneurs and manufacturers over the next hundred years.

While working in a sewing machine repair shop attempting to invent a new lubricating liquid for the machine needle, it is widely believed that Morgan wiped his hands on a wool cloth, returned the next day, found the woolly texture of the cloth had “smoothed out”, and set out to find how the liquid chemical had changed the texture as it had. He experimented on an Airedale dog, known for their curly textured hair, and the effect was successfully duplicated.

Morgan then tried his lubricating liquid invention on himself, called it a “hair refining cream”, and thus patented the first chemical hair straightener.  He founded a personal grooming products company which included hair dying ointments, curved-tooth pressing combs, shampoo, hair pressing gloss, and the one that started it all: the “G.A. Morgan’s Hair Refiner Cream” (advertised to “Positively Straighten Hair in 15 Minutes”).

How can chemicals “relax”, or straighten hair? Well first of all, as assumed, the chemical would need to be potent enough to do so. Both lye and “no lye” relaxers are very strong chemicals that work in the same manner by changing the basic structure of the hair shaft. The chemical penetrates the cortex or cortical layer and loosens the natural curl pattern. This inner layer of the hair shaft is not only what gives curly hair its shape but provides strength and elasticity. Once this process is performed it is irreversible.

This process which produces the desired effect of “straighter” hair at the same time leaves hair weak and extremely susceptible to breaking and further damage. One must keep in mind that relaxers do not help the hair, but actually strip it. So by applying chemicals to the hair, even if it is to achieve a desired effect, is never really to the benefit of your hair health.  Due to this, it is first strongly recommended that it be applied only under the direction of a hair care professional with a record of success with healthy hair care and chemical straightening, and that the client regularly obtains conditioning treatments before and after the process.

Possessing a healthy scalp beforehand decreases the possibility of problems occurring. Relaxers should never be applied to already damaged hair, or on someone who has had scalp damage. Age should also be considered. Although your young children may want to have the hairstyles they see on adults or other young people, parents should seriously consider applying such strong chemicals to young hair and the potential damage that could last a lifetime if misused; most times it is not necessary to apply any chemical product to young hair.

“Over processing”, the excessive use of relaxers on the hair or applying the chemical to already processed or relaxed hair, is the most typical misuse of these chemicals. Once the initial relaxer is applied to “virgin hair” (or a “virgin relaxer” is performed), “touch-ups” (or chemical applied thereafter) should only be applied to new growth between 6-8 week periods (or more). This however, depends on the rate of hair growth and condition of the hair as advised by your hair care professional. (Some say that even six weeks is too soon to reapply relaxer to new growth). And it is standard to wait at least 2-4 weeks before applying hair color chemical (or dye) to recently relaxed hair, if applied at all. We remind readers that the more chemicals applied to hair the more possibility of damage may be experienced.

 We are well aware that chemical straightening is an option that many people will choose regardless of the education they receive on the dangers and cautions in doing so.  So we ask that if you are going to make the choice to chemically relax your hair that you take ever precaution necessary.  Seek the service of a reputable hair care professional who is concerned with the overall HEALTH of the hair.  A hair consultation should be suggested during which the hair may be felt to determine its elasticity and strength. Your scalp should also be inspected. And any problems you currently are experiencing with your hair or scalp should be disclosed to the stylist at this time. The stylist may also ask you pertinent questions regarding your current hair regimen and products you typically use. Your stylist may even recommend other methods to style your hair besides chemically straightening it. Even after you’ve personally done your research the stylist may strongly recommend that relaxing your hair ought not be done or that it is not needed. Their recommendation should also be carefully considered.

If newly chemically straightened hair is not given special treatment and care it can become brittle, dry, damaged and break. Relaxed hair will tend to be drier and break easily. When combing it may be best to use a large tooth comb and start from the tips of the hair up to the roots. Regular deep conditioning is a must. Remember once you’ve made the decision to chemically straighten the hair you should also make a decision to commit to regular quality conditioning treatments to maintain not only the look you want, but the healthy hair we all desire.

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