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Relaxers: Your top 3 questions answered!

Text: Lesley Mathys; Photography: IMAXtree

March 9, 2017

Relaxers: Your top 3 questions answered!To straighten or not to straighten? The choice is yours! To make it easier we’ve asked the SA’s top ethnic hair specialists to answer your questions.

Some of my friends relax their hair, some are against it. What are the benefits of relaxing?

“The biggest pro is manageability,” says ORS SA hairstylist Betito Ebengo. “It makes combing easier, which lessons breakage and tangling. Plus, if you like wearing weaves, having relaxed roots blends the roots more effectively.”

Are relaxers easy to use at home?

“Absolutely,” says Hanson Ndabeni, Field and National Education Manager for Softsheen Carson.  “Anyone can do it. It comes in a cream form which makes application super easy.”

If you’re relaxing your hair for the first time, you need to apply the relaxer from root to tip. After that, you only need to apply the formula to the re-growth at your roots.

Once applied, the relaxer has to be given time to work its magic in order for it to “loosen your hair’s tight curls and remove its kinkiness”. Hanson adds: “A chemical reaction takes place which breaks the disulphide bonds in your hair.” These bonds are what make your hair curly. Breaking those bonds, loosens your curls – it doesn’t result in straight hair shafts. It’s the action that does that. You have to comb the relaxer (with the back of the comb) while the formula is on, to create sleekness. To do this at home, hold sections of hair at a 90 degree angle so that your hair, now covered with relaxer, doesn’t touch your scalp,” says hairstylist and ethnic hair expert Brian Warfield.

Do the ingredients make a difference?

Here’s the science part: The main active ingredient in relaxer is hydroxide ion. Hydroxide relaxers, “though higher in alkalinity, are the preferred choice of relaxers because of the speed and degree of straightening of the hair,” says cosmetology expert Dr Reginald Mitchell. Thio relaxers are milder as their main ingredient –  ammonium thioglycolate – is lower in pH levels, making it slower and less effective.

Love your curls? Then you need to try these 6 products for kinky hair!

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