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Relaxer Damage To The Scalp & Hair
Hair relaxers contain chemicals so potent you must wear gloves to use them. While these products change the structure of curly, kinky or wavy hair to make it more manageable, they can even severely damage your scalp and hair, notes Pamela Ferrell, author of “Let’s Talk Hair.” In some cases, this damage could be permanent and cause permanent hair loss.
In 1910, Garrett Augustus Morgan, son of former slaves and the inventor of the automatic traffic signal, accidentally discovered what would become known as hair relaxers. One day, during his search for a lubricating liquid for sewing machine needles, Morgan wiped his hands on a wool cloth, in accordance with Skin Biology. When he returned the next day, the fibers of the woolly cloth had smoothed out. Morgan identified the chemical that straightened the fibers and first marketed it as a “hair refining cream.”
Hair relaxers contain several corrosive chemicals that break down the hair structure and might damage scalp. At pH 12, they share the same alkalinity of household products resembling ammonia. By contrast, the alkalinity of skin and hair is pH 5. Essentially the most potent ingredient found in hair relaxers is sodium hydroxide or caustic soda lye, which can be found in liquid drain cleaners and paint thinners. Even products marketed as “no lye” contain damaging ingredients similar to calcium hydroxide or guanidine carbonate, which you’ll find in “organic” brands. Calcium hydroxide is used to clean up water and sewage and guanidine carbonate is an ingredient in hair removal products.
Sodium hydroxide could cause chemical burns, permanent injury and scarring on unprotected human tissue. Together with other chemicals found in relaxers, sodium hydroxide can leave your scalp itchy, red and flaky and cause scalp dermatitis, based on Ferrell. Additionally they dry out your hair and make it brittle, which increases breakage and hair loss.
The side effects of hair relaxers are sometimes worse due to improper application, explains the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To reduce the damage to your scalp and hair, never leave a hair relaxer on for more than the recommended period of time. View labels for product-specific application. Also, do reapplications or “touch-ups” only every six to eight weeks, depending on how quickly your hair grows. During a touch-up, apply relaxer only to new growth, not previously straightened hair.
Other ways to reduce damage include applying a protective gel — akin to petroleum jelly — to your scalp before a relaxer and a pre-relaxer treatment to previously relaxed hair. Don’t wash your hair for not less than every week before applying a relaxer.
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The way to Condition Hair After Using a Relaxer Tips on Relaxing Natural Hair Learn how to Straighten Naturally Kinky Hair cute hairstyles for greasy hair The results of Relaxing Hair Negative effects of Lye in Hair Relaxers How Do You Minimize Scalp Irritation From a Hair Relaxer Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It shouldn’t be used instead for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the services or products that are advertised on the internet site. Ad Choices
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