Monday, May 17

No Lye vs Lye Relaxer

I never really knew the difference between a Lye and No-Lye Relaxer. So, I decided to do a little research to figure out which one would be best for my hair. During my research, I found this below article that really broke down the difference Lye and No Lye.*Sorry this is LONG*

Here's a brief Summary

No-Lye Relaxers

Best For:
*self-relaxers or "do-it-yourselfers,"
*people who have fine hair
*those with sensitive scalp conditions
*Also better for those who prefer a straighter relaxed hair turnout.

*They are easier on the scalp
*Often produce straighter results.
*Generally bear a lower pH than lye relaxers, and do not lift or swell the hair cuticle as much as lye relaxers to achieve straightening.
*No lye relaxers are readily available for general consumer purchase at retail outlets.
*They are usually sold in "kits" with everything you will need (activator, stirring stick, base, neutralizer) for your relaxer application.

While they are generally considered easier on the scalp, they are "harder" on the hair.

Problems arise from the improper application of relaxers in general by amateur do-it-yourselfers.

No-lye formulations tend to leave mineral deposits behind on the hair shaft-These mineral deposits can dull the hair and make it less able to absorb much needed moisture. Calcium deposits can make the hair brittle, dry, and prone to breakage. This dryness is perhaps the greatest complaint of individuals who use no-lye relaxers.

More breakage of disulfide bonds- Because no lye relaxers are able to relax the hair straighter than lye relaxers, they are usually responsible for a greater degree of disulfide bond breakage within the hair shaft. Straighter hair equals more broken cortical bonds. This excessive straightening can contribute to a limp, stick straight, lifeless look to the hair.

Can seem to take longer to actually process the hair -Because many people understand the classic "relaxer tingle" to be their rinsing point, no lye relaxers can give users a false sense of time or security. This apparently lengthier time for processing often encourages people to leave their no lye relaxers in the hair longer than they should or would ever be possible with a lye relaxer. This unfortunately leads to severe overprocessing and breakage.

No lye relaxer mixes are only good for one application- Mixes must be used with-in a day

Ways to Prevent Damage

Protect the hair by covering the already processed hair with either conditioner or oil prior to relaxing. This will reduce bond breakage, and prevent minerals from depositing easily along the hair shaft

At the wash following the relaxer, it is recommended that you chelate the hair to lift any minerals that may have deposited along the cuticle to reduce dryness. Shampoos like Kenra Clarifying Shampoo,and Joico Reslove are great chelators to try. Chelating removes the buildup that leads to relaxer dryness so the hair remains soft and receptive of moisture treatments

Select a quality relaxer brand. Not all no-lye relaxers are created equal. If you choose the no-lye relaxer route, invest in a trusted, professional relaxer brand that is preferably either Lithium or Potassium hydroxide based to avoid mineral buildup.

Lye Relaxers

Best for

*Individuals with coarser hair types
*Those who prefer professional applications at salon establishments
*Those who desire a lesser degree of straightening.

Generally easier on the hair-They do not leave behind dulling deposits on the hair shaft, and therefore do not interfere with the hair's ability to absorb moisture. They are more likely to leave the hair with a softer, silkier result without further treatments.

Low degree of disulfide bond breakage- In general, lye relaxers do not straighten the hair as completely as no lye relaxers. This means that the level of disulfide bond breakage from lye relaxers is less than that of no-lye relaxers. Lye relaxers are more likely to leave a level of disulfide bond breakage that still allows the hair to maintain its natural strength and elasticity.

Process faster than no-lye relaxers- Because they are able to lift the cuticle layers more forcefully and breech layers of base quickly, these relaxers must be applied carefully and quickly to avoid damage to the hair fiber.

More for the money- if you purchase and do them yourself. Lye relaxers are good for multiple applications since the chemicals remain stable for longer periods of time.

Unfortunately, lye relaxers are very hard on the scalp-Because the pH of lye relaxers is so high, they are extremely corrosive and damaging to the scalp. The pH of lye relaxers can exceed 13 on 1-14 scale (Halal, 2002). This tendency to "burn" may be part of the reason why lye relaxers tend to underprocess the hair and have difficulty straightening.

Lye relaxers lift and swell the hair cuticle more than no lye relaxers to achieve straightening increasing external damage to the fiber.

Lye Relaxers process faster than no-lye relaxers, which often leads to faster scalp irritation and chemical burning.

In general, lye relaxers do not straighten the hair as completely as no lye relaxers- Disulfide bond breakage is reduced because the chemical's aggressiveness tends to put time constraints on the straightening process. However, while the bonds responsible for the curl/coil of the hair are left intact, other critical hair bonds are destroyed on the external layers of the hair.

Expensive and Not readily accessible to do-it-yourselfers.

Way's to Prevent Damage

You can avoid damage from using these relaxers by basing your scalp well prior to relaxing. A thick layer of petroleum base to the scalp and sensitive areas around the neck, ears, and face can prevent scalp damage from lye relaxers.
To counteract the cuticle lifting and swelling damage from lye relaxing, protein conditioning should take place immediately after the relaxer is rinsed and just before a normalizing or neutralizing shampoo is used. This will help rebuild the cuticle and return the scales to their normal orientations. This step can also be done with no-lye relaxer systems
Now that you know the pros, cons and ways to prevent damage, which kind of relaxer will you use?

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  1. Interesting. I didn't know no-lye has harder on the hair than lye. I'll have to keep that in mind next time I relax my hair. Great tips! Keep them coming.

  2. I was thinking the same thing. I usually relax with No-lye but I think I'm going to try a Lye Relaxer on my next touch-up.
    Thanks for stopping by Marisa!

  3. Must disagree with some of this. I self relax and have thin hair and my hair trived once switching to lye based relaxer. Lye telaxer allows for better moisture retention

    1. Hello. Thank you for sharing your experience using Lye based relaxers and I'm glad switching to it is better for your hair. Results do vary and this article was written by Associated press(linked above).


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