Beauty & Skincare, Hair Loss Problems| last modified: March 11, 2010 7:40 am

Is It Safe To Use Hair Relaxers?

A couple decades ago, voluminous curly hair was all the rage. However for the past few years, the trend has shifted to straight and sleek hair. In turn, many women (and men) are resorting to various techniques to straighten their hair. Some of them, like flat irons and blow dryers, are a relatively harmless approach to take. However others are using hair relaxers, which are often made out of highly corrosive chemicals. So that brings us to the question… is it safe to use a hair relaxer? Let’s find out…

What are hair relaxers?
Although there is no official definition, this term is typically used to describe hair care products which are designed to relax the hair. They work by using powerful chemicals that re-align the hair follicles so they lie straight. The most common active ingredient they used is known as lye; an alkaline sodium hydroxide substance. With a pH that typically ranges from 12 to 14, this acid can easily burn the scalp and destroy the hair follicles. Over the past several years, there have been some natural hair relaxers that have come onto the market that incorporate gentler ingredients. However lye hair relaxers still remains the most popular due to their low cost.

What are the dangers of using hair relaxers?
As we’ve already pointed out, they have the potential to cause chemical burns when they come in contact with the scalp. For some people, they also destroy the hair follicles, which can result in temporary hair loss. However there are many people who have reportedly experienced permanent areas of baldness over time from using hair relaxers. In addition to these aesthetic problems, some products may be dangerous if they are absorbed by the skin and make their way through your body (at least in theory). This is why it is definitely best to avoid using a hair relaxer during pregnancy.

Should hair relaxers be completely avoided?
It is a personal decision; one must weigh the pros and cons to determine whether or not it is right for them. That being said, many people are turning to the newer formulations of natural hair relaxers which are reportedly known to have fewer adverse side effects. Alternately, many women are cropping their hair short and turning to wigs and quick weaves instead. A quick weave is like a wig, but it is worn over one’s natural hair. It certainly is a safer way to have straight hair, but the drawback is that it may not look real if a low quality quick weave is used.

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