Chemical hair straighteners, or hair relaxers, are a goldmine for the beauty industry. Many women with curly or kinky hair use relaxers to straighten their hair. Every six weeks the process is applied to new growth–year after year. What would bind a person to a chemical process this way?
There are many psycho-social factors at play. The Western concept of beauty is very narrow. Also, the ability to find professionals who know how to manage kinky or nappy hair is an issue. Some people look at nappy hair as unattractive, some people embrace it. Still others look at nappy hair as a political statement.
Relaxers work, because they break the bonds that strengthen the hair. Regardless of how pretty relaxed hair may look, it is damaged hair. Many women that have no visible hairline have over processed their hair. Over processing is common and easy to do with relaxers.
What are some of the dangers involved in relaxing your hair with chemicals?
• Hair relaxers have harmful health effects.
• Chemical burns
• Red scalp
• Receding hairline
The bottom line should always be health. So what are the active ingredients in hair relaxers? Take a look at the Skin Deep database and you will see that most hair relaxers are rated very negatively–moderate to high hazard. That’s because the same ingredient that cleans out the clog in your sink is the same ingredient used in relaxers. Remember, chemicals don’t stay on the surface of your skin. They migrate throughout the body.
• Sodium hydroxide is used in lye relaxers.
• Calcium hydroxide is used in no lye relaxers.
• Hydrogen peroxide, which is a weak acid and used as a disinfectant because of its bleaching agent.
• Phosphoric acid and is considered to be a health hazard questionable of neurotoxicant, respiratory toxicant, and skin and sense organ toxicant.
• Ammonium hydroxide which maybe the cause of respiratory toxins.
More and more people with kinky hair are deciding to leave the chemicals alone and wear their hair naturally. Another issue that has caused the popularity of kinky hair is cross cultural adoption. As children of African descent are adopted cross culturally, their parents generally opt to leave the chemicals alone.
If you are using a relaxer and decide to go natural be careful because for a time you will have two textures of hair. The straight hair–the weaker hair–will break off eventually leaving natural new growth. While you are in this in between stage, try only using conditioner–no shampoo. You can also experiment with braids or twists.