In my conversations with friends and clients about the type of relaxers they use, it has become apparent to me that many ladies do not know the difference between Lye and No Lye relaxers. Many of us automatically but incorrectly assume that no-lye relaxers are the better or safer option. Both Lye and No Lye relaxers have characteristics which should be considered before you chose the one that is most suitable for your hair type.
Hopefully by the end of this post you will have gained a better understanding of both types of relaxers and be able to make a better informed decision.
These are usually packaged in a jar or tub and are ready for use, i.e. there is no need to mix them with activators. They are sometimes called No-Base Relaxers.
Pros of Lye Relaxers
Lye relaxers are said to be better for hair fibers than no-lye relaxers. This is because they do not leave mineral deposits on the hair. Mineral deposits left on hair fibers can hinder its ability to absorb moisture.
All relaxers work by breaking down some of our hairs protein structure. Another advantage lye relaxers have over no-lye formulas is that the levels of protein breakage that occurs with lye relaxers will allow the hair to retain more of its natural strength and elasticity than no-lye formulas.
Cons of Lye Relaxers
Lye relaxers can be quite harsh on our scalp in comparison to no-lye relaxers. They tend to irritate or burn the scalp quicker that no-lye formulas. For this reason, lye relaxers may not be suitable for ladies with very sensitive scalps or scalps that burn easily.
These usually come in a box kit that contains activators to be mixed in to activate the formula.
Pros of No-Lye Relaxers
No-lye relaxers are said to be “easier” on the scalp than lye relaxers. This means that it is not as harsh on the scalp as lye formulas. If you have a very sensitive scalp which burns easily you may want to consider using a no-lye relaxer. Please note that all chemical relaxers (lye or no-lye formula) can cause severe scalp burns and hair loss if it is used incorrectly
Cons of No-Lye Relaxers
No-lye relaxers can leave our hair quite dry. This is because no-lye formulas leave some mineral residues on our hair fibers which decreases its ability to absorb moisture. Remember dry hair has a higher risk of breaking. To overcome this problem, a chelating shampoo should be used occasionally if you use a no-lye relaxer formula to relax your hair. Chelating shampoos work beneath the surface of the hair fibers to remove stubborn minerals left behind by no-lye relaxers, chlorine in swimming pools and hard water residue.
Another disadvantage of no-lye relaxers is that it takes longer to process the hair. This means that it is left in the hair for a longer period than lye relaxers. The longer the hair is exposed to harsh chemicals, the more weakened it will become.
How to Choose between Lye and No Lye Relaxers
Lye relaxers can be used by ladies whose;
- scalp is quite resilient and does not get irritated or burn easily
- hair is very coarse, thick and resistant
No-Lye relaxers can be used by ladies whose;
- scalp is very sensitive and gets irritated or burns easily
- hair is very fine, thin and processes easily
Having considered the information above it must be stressed that relaxers should only be applied by well qualified and trained hair care professionals. Please also remember that all relaxers whether lye or no-lye are harsh chemicals and can cause severe damage to scalp and hair if the product is abused or used incorrectly.
Photo Credits: Dreamstime