Phenomenal . . .

Phenomenal . . .
Life, Growth, and Connection (This sunflower was nourished by my hands.) 2010; Photography by Benita Blocker. Please become a follower of this blog.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

There is Nothing Relaxing about Relaxers

In this article, I want to address everything from relaxer shelf life to relaxer getting into the hair follicle below the scalp.

First of all, many new clients tell me that their stylist goes behind closed doors to get the relaxer and then re-emerges with relaxer product in a bowl ready to use.  They really do not know what type of relaxer is being used on them.  Then some hairstylists even in my own personal experience will put what they want in the bowl despite your special request.

I personally offer full transparency in my salon.  I want my clients to know that I am not trying to play a "switch-a-roo" game on them.  I do not purposely position the styling chair so that the client can not see the mirror.  I know some hairstylists intentionally keep the client from out of the mirror until the very end of the service.  When performing haircoloring services, I do recommend keeping the client out of the mirror only because every colorist has times when they have to tone or correct some undesirable results.  There is no use in alarming the client when you know that you can fix the issue.

Now, back to the relaxer topic, Avlon relaxers typically have an expiration date of three years from manufacture date listed on their tubs of relaxers, but many relaxer tubs do not have expiration dates just batch codes.  That can be a problem because I read online that one relaxer brand ( I don't remember which brand) claims the relaxer shelf life is only one year unopened and four months when opened.  So does that mean twisting off the top to see and smell a relaxer starts a separate countdown for shelf life?  That is scary because with so many hairstylists working independently in styling studios in addition to the "natural hair" movement, relaxer tubs are no longer being constantly turned over because of the decline in relaxer services.

Los Angeles, California residents have been practicing the natural hair movement for awhile because of their low humidity weather.  One of my friends who was working temporarily in the LA area asked for referrals for relaxer services, and no one had a referral because they felt all hairstylists had "old relaxers" because of the low volume of relaxer service requests in the area.

Something else to consider about relaxers is that it is cosmetic and not strictly regulated.  So the consistency of the manufacturing of the relaxers can vary.  There is one brand of relaxer where sometimes when I would purchase it - it would be creamy  and other purchase times, it would be stiffer.  One time, it looked horrible and separated and upon calling the company, they said "due to the heat of the summer, the shea butter had risen to the top, and to just stir it up."  Who wants to pay top dollar for new, fresh product and it is defected????  I asked them take it back and exchange it for some better looking product/tub.  I am seriously planning to discontinue offering this particular brand as soon as I get everyone switched off of it.

I say all of this to say, we really do not have any control over what is in a relaxer tub.  It is a toxic chemical, and I believe, that as the toxic chemcial is softening/relaxing the new growth, it can seep below the scalp and into the hair follicle.  If the relaxer does seep below the scalp, proper neutralizing may be difficult below the scalp resulting in hair shedding.  If you suspect the relaxer to be causing shedding, then I suggest a thorough cleansing with Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two.  It is a clarify and neutralizing shampoo.  It should help detox the scalp and hair follicle.  You will probably need to re-hydrate the hair because the Shampoo Two can be a little drying to ethnic hair.  The dryness can be fixed with using the conditioner that comes with the relaxer system.  If it is the Paul Mitchell relaxer system, then I recommend using an ethnic conditioner to rehydrate.  No pure protein.

Please understand that I am not anti-relaxers.  My pre-teen client who just received her first virgin relaxer (separate blog article) a few months ago is doing extremely well.  Less tangling.  Less time to service.  More styling control.  The relaxer seems like the most beautiful thing on the planet.  Yet, I cautioned her that the chemical is still toxic and should not be performed too often.

Ultimately, relaxers are not going anywhere.  For 50% of ethnic women, they will probably have no relaxer challenges.  Then there is probably another 25% whose hair will not completely relax, but it will become vulnerable to breakage.  Then there is another 25% that will forever have relaxer challenges.  Relaxers and Recovery will become a vicious cycle.

So Relaxers are nothing to be too relaxed about.

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