No-Lye vs. Lye relaxers

Hello Blog Lovers! I just wanted to first welcome all of my new followers. Welcome! This blog post is for those of us that relax our hair and for those who are just plain curious; as we all know Miss Nic loves hair whether it's natural or relaxed. I follow Hairlicious Inc. and I'm a member of the Hairlista network and I love the blog as well as Hairlista. Someone asked the question on Hairlicious what could she do to keep her scalp from burning during the relaxer process and she stated that she used a lye relaxer. All of the tips that were given were great. However the big red flag that went off in my brain was the LYE RELAXER and I knew that no matter what she used or did before she relaxed her hair it was going to burn. When I think about a lye relaxer I think about the movie Malcom X and the 5 heart beats when relaxers just hit the scene. If you've seen Malcom X you should remember Spike Lee putting the relaxer on Denzell's hair and him running to the bathroom screaming it's burning!!! That was a lye relaxer. I just wanted to share some information about Lye relaxers vs. No-Lye relaxers and although No-lye has a "bad reputation" you'd be surprised as to what you'll read next. Just know that both relaxer types are chemicals and if you do not apply them correctly you will have damaged hair (dry,brittle, and breakage). There are ways to keep this from ultimately happening. 

All relaxers have a high pH range 10-14 on the pH scale and I've been watching Kim of LuvNaturals (told you I love hair and I'm not natural<< she's great in her presentation and her videos!) and she talked about the pH rollercoaster of our hair and how it can be one heck of a ride. However the difference between Lye relaxers and No-lye relaxers is that Lye relaxers have a pH level of 14 and no-lye relaxers have a pH of 10. The higher the pH level the more it causes the hair cuticle to swell which will initially cause  more damage to the hair cuticle. The pH level increases as the strength of the relaxer increases. As I've stated before there are different strengths of relaxer. They are again: Mild for fine hair, Regular for normal hair, Super for course hair, and there is also Sensitive Scalp for those with sensitive scalps. 

Also what makes the two relaxers different is the chemical compounds used to straighten the hair. Lye relaxers contain Sodium Hydroxide ( that shuts down the statement that all relaxers contain sodium hydroxide only the lye relaxers do). No-lye relaxers contain Guanidine, Lithium, and Potassium Hydroxide. They are still in the same family as the Sodium Hydroxide, however sodium is initially stronger. Lye relaxers are referred to as no-base relaxers which are relaxers that come already ready to use. No-lye relaxers have a activator step which require you to add something to the relaxer to make it no-lye. Some Lithium and Potassium relaxers may not have the activator step.

No-Lye relaxers are best for self-relaxing, fine hair, and those who have sensitive scalps. They are also better for those of us who like to have straighter results. No-Lye relaxers have always had a bad reputation for being harder on the hair but easier on the scalp. Why is that so if the pH is lower than that of a No-lye relaxer...Glad you asked so I can tell you where that came from. Here are the Pros and Cons of the No-Lye relaxer first.

  1. Easier on the scalp. You will have little to no scalp irritation if you treat the scalp properly before application.
  2. Straighter results. No-lye relaxers allow enough processing time to achieve the straighter look that is desired by many.
  3. Lower pH than lye relaxers.
  4. Affordable. Can be found in your local BSS, drug stores, or retailers like Wal-mart and target.
  1. No-Lye relaxers will leave mineral deposits on the hair which will make the hair less able to absorb moisture. The calcium deposits that are left behind on the hair will make the hair brittle, dry, and prone to breakage if not taken care of.
  2. No-lye relaxers cause more breakage of the disulfied bonds in the hair which will make the hair straighter. Excessive straightening will contribute to limp, lifeless hair. (OVER PROCESSING)
  3. Takes longer to process.  This is due to the pH level and the reason why it can or may take longer to process depends on the texture (fine, normal, course) however,  even thou you will achieve a straighter look due the fact that it won't burn right away it will often times make us think that you can leave it on longer. I always say that if you know what you doin or if the person applying the relaxer knows what they are doing then it should relax in less than 15 minutes for re-touch (thats application and comb through at least one time). Maybe longer for virgins.
  4. Only good for one application. Guandine hydroxide relaxers that are usually the kind in the store that comes in the kit comes packaged as one full head application (for virgins) and/or two relaxer re-touch applications. If you are doing a re-touch application you can just scoop half out into a bowl and mix it up and the other half is fine as long as it's not mixed all the way. Once you mix the activator into the relaxer you have mixed guanidine carbonate and calcium hydroxide (the mineral deposits) together and created guanidine hydroxide. After that chemical action has taken place the mixture is only good for 24 hrs.
Now why is the No-lye hard on the hair. The calcium deposits of course. There are three things that you can do to counteract this problem: 1) protect the hair with a conditioner or oil prior to relaxing the hair to reduce breakage (apply this to the hair that has already been previously relaxed< this process is called adding a filler to the hair shaft << great for re-touches only) 2) It is recommended that you Chelate the hair shaft (after application) to get rid of minerals that have been deposited onto the hair cuticle to reduce the dryness of the hair shaft. This can be done by using a clarifying shampoo. Remember Clarifying shampoos can be damaging if over used. 3)Choose a no-lye relaxer that is either lithium or potassium hydroxide based to avoid mineral build up.

I would suggest using a No-lye relaxer for first timers. That way your hair will be relaxed properly without irritation.

Lye relaxers are as stated before no-base relaxers and contain sodium hydroxide. Do not assume that because it's called a no-base relaxer that you don't have to base the scalp. It's actually the exact opposite. You have to actually base the scalp and base it heavily because of the pH level of the Lye relaxer. You have a chemical with an intensified affect on the hair (think about the movie Good Hair and the aluminum cans).Lye relaxer never has to be mixed and is ready to apply. I would not suggest using a lye relaxer for self relaxing or home use. Keep Malcom X and the 5 heartbeats in mind. Here are the Pros and Cons of the Lye Relaxer.

  1. Easier on the hair. There is no form of mineral build up and will leave the hair softer and silkier.
  2. Low Degree of disulfide bonds broken.
  3. Processes faster. The pH level allows the hair to process faster and lift the cuticle of the hair forcefully. It must be applied carefully and quickly to avoid immediate damage to the hair.

  1. Hard on the scalp. Makes the scalp easier to burn which will leave the hair under processed and won't give straighter results.
  2. Swells the cuticle of the hair more.Due to the higher levels of pH it will allow the hair shaft to be penetrated faster during the lifting of the cuticle which can lead to damage to the cuticle..
  3. Scalp Irritation. Due to fast processing time and pH level.
  4. Doesn't straighten completely. The lye relaxer often times can't be tolerated long enough to stay on long enough to straighten properly. The chemical (sodium hydroxide) is overall harsher than the no-lye relaxer (Guanidine Hydroxide), and because it's harsher the breakage of the disulfide bonds are weaker due to time constraints. Although the disulfide bond is left in tact (the disulfide bond is the bond responsible for the curl/coil of your natural hair texture), other critical hair bonds are being destroyed.  For better straightening results use a "base" lye relaxer but pump up the amount of vaseline used on the scalp.
  5. Under processed hair.
  6. Expensive. Lye-relaxers are the relaxers used in the salons by professionals and they cost more than the relaxers that are found in the bss.This is the reason why I stated before in a previous post that salon relaxers are stronger than store bought relaxers. 
What can you do to combat the harsh affects of the Lye relaxer: Using a protein conditioner after the relaxer has been rinsed and before you apply the neutralizing shampoo. This will counteract the lifting and swelling damage to the cuticle, and will rebuild the cuticle of the hair shaft. Often times some salon relaxers (lye relaxers) come with a four step process and that is to base the scalp, apply the relaxer, apply the normalizer (the protein conditioner in our case) and then neutralizing shampoo.  The normalizer is what will bring the pH level of the hair back down to 7 which is the normal pH level of hair.  
Overall like I've always said a chemical can damage your hair if you are applying it wrong and not following directions and if you don't know what you are doing then you should seek a professional. Like I always say Condition, CONDition, CONDITION!and of course moisturize. That will ultimately keep your hair from breaking and being dried out. That's the 411 on Lye relaxers vs. No-lye relaxers when it comes to relaxing your hair always choose the right relaxer for your hair texture and be fully aware that if you are opting to use a lye relaxer be prepared to feel the burn!
I know it was long, Sorry and check out Kimmaytubes video on the structure of the Hair part 3<
Thanks for reading! Tell a Friend! and Leave Comments and enter the summer contest Giveaway in my side bar. ~♥ Miss Nic♥~ 


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