How Long Does a Relaxer Last: In-depth review

How Long Does a Relaxer Last: In-depth review

If you're wondering how long a hair relaxer lasts, the straightforward answer is typically 6-8 weeks. This duration can vary based on hair growth, maintenance, and the specific product. My journey with hair relaxers began years ago when I tried taming my curls. I vividly remember checking my roots almost daily, eagerly waiting to see how long it would be before those familiar curls began to reappear. 

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Over the years, I've tried various brands and methods to relax hair, and through trial and error, I've found that a well-applied relaxer, paired with proper hair care, can keep your tresses straight and sleek for about two months. Let’s dive into this in-depth review, where we'll explore the science behind relaxers, factors that influence their longevity, and personal experiences to guide you in your relaxing hair journey.

What Does A Relaxer Do?

A hair relaxer is a chemical treatment designed to straighten curly or coiled hair permanently. The primary ingredient in most relaxers is either sodium hydroxide (lye) or a no-lye formula with ingredients like calcium hydroxide. When applied, these harsh chemicals break the hair's natural protein bonds, causing the curls to loosen and the hair to lay straight. This process makes curly hair more manageable and gives it a straight appearance.

However, because it involves a chemical alteration of the hair structure, it's essential to apply relaxers carefully to the scalp burns avoid potential damage or scalp irritation. Regular maintenance, like deep conditioning, is crucial to keep relaxed hair healthy and strong.

What Are the Types of Relaxers? 

When transitioning from natural hair to a style relaxed hair style, professionals typically consider two main types of hair relaxers:

Lye Relaxers

Lye Relaxers are mainly made from sodium hydroxide. They work fast and can change curly hair or coarse hair to straight hair. Some people call this look "bone straight." They offer a more rapid hair relaxing experience, but caution is essential. If not applied precisely or left on for too long, they can be caustic, leading to damaged hair or even permanent hair loss and breakage. It's always advised to have a professional stylist handle the application of a sodium hydroxide relaxer to ensure hair and scalp health.

No-Lye Relaxers

These hair relaxers use ingredients like calcium hydroxide or guanidine carbonate. They're often recommended for individuals with sensitive scalps or more fragile hair strands. No-lye relaxers are gentler on the hair relaxed scalp compared to their lye counterparts. However, one common concern with chemical relaxers is the potential for calcium buildup on hair strands, making relaxed hair appear dull over time. To combat this, many stylists suggest using a deep conditioner regularly, promoting healthy, relaxed hair by preventing it from becoming dry or frizzy.

What to Know Before Relaxing Your Hair

When considering transitioning from natural hair to relaxed hair, there's much to ponder. Hair relaxers, with their ability to transform curly or coarse, hair types and textures into straight strands, offer a unique allure. But what should you be aware of before diving into this hair-relaxing journey?

It’s All About Chemicals

Hair relaxation is a chemical process. As with any chemical process, there are potential risks involved. Hair relaxers, whether they contain sodium hydroxide (lye relaxers) or calcium hydroxide (no lye relaxers), alter the hair structure, making your naturally curly or wavy hair straight or "bone straight." However, this transformation isn't without potential pitfalls.

Trust the Experts

Research from the NCBI has highlighted several complaints and hair health often associated with chemical hair relaxers. Among these are frizzy hair, dandruff, hair loss, hair thinning, and the dreaded hair breakage. This is why maintaining hair and scalp health is paramount. The application of chemical straighteners demands precision. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) emphasizes the importance of professional application. Trusting this task to a seasoned hair stylist or a professional stylist can make a world of difference in hair health.

DIY Kits

If you choose the DIY route, using an at-home kit, it's paramount that you follow all instructions. This differs from the care you'd exercise when using at-home hair color kits, keratin treatments, or heat styling tools like flat irons and hot combs. Furthermore, to maintain healthy, relaxed hair, integrating a hydrating shampoo and deep conditioner can be beneficial.

How Long Does A Relaxer Last?

You might be asking, "Do hair relaxers last forever?" Good question! In simple words, they don’t. The American Academy of Dermatology says these relaxers keep hair straight for about two to three months. After that, you'll need to use them again, but only on the new hair that grows.

If you don’t reapply, your hair will slowly return to its curly, natural look. But remember, the more you use relaxers, the longer it might take to see your hair’s natural curls again. So, while relaxers can give you straight hair for a while, it's not forever!

Factors Affecting the Lifespan of a Relaxer

Several factors can influence how long a relaxer will last in your hair:

Hair Growth Rate: As your hair grows, the new growth will showcase your natural hair texture. On average, hair grows about half an inch per month. Depending on your new hair growth rate, you may see your natural texture emerging after a few weeks.

Maintenance: How you care for your relaxed hair can prolong or shorten its longevity. Using heat styling tools too hot oil too frequently, not conditioning relaxing hair regularly, or neglecting protective styles can shorten the life of your relaxer.

Type of Relaxer: As mentioned above, the choice between lye and no-lye relaxers can influence the outcome of extreme dryness the hair has. Lye relaxers tend to last slightly longer but might be harsher on the hair.

Individual Hair Properties: Porosity, thickness, and previous damage can all impact how your hair responds to a relaxer and how long the effects last.

Maximizing the Lifespan of Your Relaxer

To ensure you get the most extended duration from your relaxer, consider the following expert tips:

Deep Condition Regularly: Relaxed hair's condition often is chemically processed, which can make it more prone to dryness and breakage. Regular deep conditioning treatments can restore moisture, enhancing the hair's appearance and prolonging the relaxer's effects.

Avoid Excessive Heat: Heat can further damage relaxed hair. Limit the use of hot tools and always use a heat protectant when you do style hair dry or with heat.

Trim Regularly: Even if you're trying to grow your hair, regular trims can prevent split ends from traveling up the other hair shafts, keeping hair shaft of your relaxed hair looking fresh and healthy.

Use the Right Products: Invest in hair care products for chemically treated or relaxed hair. These hair products are crafted to address the unique needs of your hair and can help maintain the sleek look for longer.

When to Get a Retouch

Most hair professionals recommend getting a relaxer retouch every - week. However, this timeline is flexible and should be adjusted based on your hair's needs. Overlapping relaxer applications on previously relaxed hair can lead to severe damage and breakage. It's crucial to focus on new growth during retouches.

Are Relaxers Bad For Your Hair?

Hair relaxers, like many other chemical treatments, can potentially harm your hair. According to the AAD, combining hair relaxers with other chemical treatments can strain and weaken your hair. This is why they advise sticking to one treatment at a time.

Further research from the NCBI indicates that overusing such treatments can lead hair damage due to cracked hair cuticles damage hair itself, resulting in more damage. For safer hair relaxing, it's similar to the advice for hair bleaching: always consult a professional and avoid excessive treatments.

Relaxers provide a semi-permanent solution for your hair relaxed those looking to achieve straighter hair. While they offer undeniable convenience and aesthetics, it's crucial to understand their nature and how long they last to manage expectations. With proper care, you can optimize the lifespan of your hair relaxer, and enjoy straightened hair with minimal damage. Always prioritize the health of your hair and consult with professionals when in doubt!

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