So many times I hear my clients ask me what’s the best relaxer? I have also heard from clients that relaxer is relaxer, they’re all the same chemical. Well I’m here to tell you that not all relaxers are the same.
First, let me tell you a little about my relaxer journey over the years. Just because I am a professional does not mean that I have not experienced relaxer horror stories. Boy oh boy I can tell you some tales. I’m almost embarrassed to share this because I am a pro, but if this will help someone avoid the absolute pain I’ve experienced, it will be worth it.
It may be a little lengthy, but I’ll try to keep it entertaining, so here goes.
Back in January of 1998, I was asked to audition to be a platform artist for an up and coming hair products company. The training was to take place in Orlando, FL and was comprised of some of the top black hairstylist in the country.
At the time I was living in San Diego and was very excited to have been chosen for the training and audition which was taking place on the east coast, so I could make it a vacation as well.
But wait, I was going to be around and rooming with some of the best stylist around, so I had to be on my game… And of course, my hair had to be fly.
I had talked to another stylist that was doing, at the time, a cutting edge hair extension called the pole method and I just had to have it done for the trip. So I made an appointment.
Me being so busy in the salon, I knew I had to relax and color my hair before I went for my appointment…But time got away from me and I waited until the last minute.
When I asked some of my coworkers if they could help me out two days before my appointment and hook me up with a touch up and color, everyone was too booked.
So guess what? I had to do it myself. First mistake. Unless it is absolutely necessary, I never relax my hair myself because I’m too slow with my arms constantly raised above my head, and I burn too easy. Remember that statement, I BURN TOO EASY.
So here it is, the night before my weave appointment, and all I have is product that is in bulk. I just figured that I would run to the beauty supply and grab some relaxer on my way home. I already had the bottle of color at the salon.
The professional beauty supply that I normally went to was closed and all that was opened was Sally’s Beauty Supply.
Now don’t get me wrong, Sally’s is cool for some tools like tint bottles, gloves, base, plastic caps etc… But Sally’s is not the place for top quality, hard core, professional products.
So I hurry in ten minutes before the store closes and run to the relaxer aisle. To my horror, all that was available were relaxers that I never use. Should I name them? OK, I will.
Relaxer lines like Bantu, Motions, Elasta QP, Optimum, and the oh so many “No-Lye” box relaxers which I will get into at a later date.
I go home, put the relaxer in, which burns like hot chicken grease, and then proceed to apply the color.
The color had a low volume developer, (the stuff you mix in to activate the color), and it proceeded to take the burn I was already feeling to a level that human beings should not experience.
But I needed to cover my gray and have my hair color match the extension hair. No pain, no gain, right?
It was January in San Diego. So it was cool and rainy outside. The only thing I could do to make it through the color processing time was to step out on my balcony in the rain and cool off a little.
Needless to say, the next day when it was time for my appointment, my scalp was blistering and oozing some yellow foreign substance. My girlfriend that was doing my hair was very apprehensive to give me the extension service at all.
Knowing I needed to look good, I practically threatened to key her car and put it up on bricks if she refused to perform the service. She reluctantly agreed.
The hairstyle turned out beautiful and I got many compliments. Not even the professionals knew I had extensions until I told them. But really…It’s amazing I still have hair. I could have permanently damaged my hair follicles. That move was very dangerous and stupid. I’m much wiser now.
So what’s my point?
- Don’t skimp when it comes to getting a relaxer. Always have a professional, or at least someone else who has a little experience applying relaxers to do it for you. Never do it yourself.
- If you’re sensitive like me, make sure your hair is based properly. It’s really a good idea to base your scalp regardless if you’re sensitive or not.
- Never use color after a relaxer if you’ve experienced burning during the application. (Always use a color that is safe to apply the same day of relaxer application.)
- Make sure you use a relaxer system that is of a higher grade. A good way to know if you’re using a decent relaxer is the price. Go for the higher priced products, they usually have more conditioners and oils to help buffer the chemical and are less harsh on the scalp.
- Never, never, never get hair extensions on freshly relaxed hair. The chemical makeup of the hair strand has been altered and is in a weaker state. Always get extensions when it’s time for a relaxer touch up. If you’re leaving some of your own hair out, just relax the part that will be visible.
- Don’t scratch your scalp for at least 24 hours before getting relaxed. You’re asking for trouble if you do.
- Make sure you use a system. In other words, get all the corresponding products that go along with the relaxer. Don’t mix and match the neutralizing shampoo, conditioner, stabilizer and relaxer itself. Most relaxers turn out best when you use all the products recommended. It’s kinda like a cake. If you leave out the flour, eggs, sugar, or some other ingredient, it doesn’t turn out quite right.
I know it can be difficult picking a good relaxer, just remember the rules, and things should work out for you. A few relaxers that are of higher quality are Mizani, Design Essentials, and Affirm. So if you’re not sure, give one of these a try.