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There's no one perm relaxer that'll give you perfect results without a little effort on your part. A chemical relaxer can give you ultra-straight locks, but it can also seriously damage your hair. If you chemically straighten, you need the gentlest relaxer that will work on your hair. You also need to have it applied by a professional and leave it on for only the recommended amount of time to ensure shiny, healthy locks that don't turn brittle or split.
Hair relaxers come in two main types: lye and no-lye. Lye relaxers use sodium hydroxide as a main ingredient and date back to the 19th century. They may also be called alkali relaxers. Lye relaxers work quickly and wash out easily, but can dry your hair out significantly and cause scalp irritation. No-lye relaxers rely on calcium hydroxide, are slightly less irritating and take longer to work. They can also leave behind calcium buildup, which dulls your hair and requires special decalcifying shampoo to remove. Just because a package says “no lye” does not mean it doesn't contain harsh chemicals.
When it comes to relaxers, stronger isn't necessarily better. The best relaxer for your hair is the gentlest formula that will take out your curls. If your hair has a fine texture or if you color it, stick to mild relaxers formulated for delicate hair and leave them on for only about 12 to 13 minutes. Medium or regular strength relaxers are made for medium-textured hair and should be left on for about 15 minutes. If you have coarse hair with stubborn curls, use a regular relaxer for about 18 minutes. Super strength products should only be used if your hair is resistant and short, since they can turn your hair very brittle.
Home relaxers are less expensive than getting your hair done professionally, but they stand the biggest chance of hurting your hair. Get your hair professionally relaxed at a salon that specializes in your hair type, and make sure you use a stylist you're comfortable with. It costs more, but it's worthwhile to keep your hair in good condition.
The chemicals in perm relaxers can cause allergic reactions, chemical burns and hair loss if you use them too much. According to MedicineNet, some relaxer brands have also been recalled because of illegal advertising or chemicals that are too strong. If your scalp feels like it's burning or you have an adverse reaction to any product, stop using it right away.