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Thermal Reconditioning
Chemical Hair Straightening Faqs

by Karen M. Shelton, Lamas Beauty Magazine Contributor

How The Chemical Is Applied

The stylist will use their hands or some other appropriate straightening tools to distribute the chemical solution onto completely dry hair (if the Thio Relaxer is applied the hair may be wet).

If the hair has any moisture or perspiration, it must be dried first before applying the relaxing solution (if not the Thio Relaxer). Then the solution will be carefully combed through the hair and the hair will be pulled straight.

The relaxing solution is harsh and will be only left on for a few minutes (average time is 5-8 minutes but will vary depending on a variety of factors).

Karen M. Shelton - The Hair Boutique
Karen M. Shelton
The Hair Boutique

The longer the relaxing solution is left on, the longer the effects will last and the straighter the hair will be. However, the longer the solution is left on, the more risk there is of damage to the hair.

Avoid combing through your hair while it is being straightened. The straightening process affects the hair's natural elasticity. When it is combed out, it may stretch out to over twice its normal length and it is very fragile and easy to break.


After the relaxer is completely shampooed and rinsed out with warm water (it can not be hot or cold and must be warm) a neutralizer solution is added to halt the relaxing process and restore the pH balance to the hair. The neutralizer is also known as a stabilizer or fixative. The neutralizer for a thio type of relaxer will actually re-form the cysteine cross-bonds in their new position and rehardens the hair.

From the time that the relaxing chemicals is removed and the hair is shampooed and than stabilized, the hair is extremely fragile and should be handled carefully.

Sometimes the chemicals will leave a reddish cast on the hair. When this happens the stylist can apply a special color rinse to remove the red cast. Sometimes this cast is not evident until the hair has been dried. The color rinse may be applied to dry hair as well.

Conditioned, Dried & Set

It is advisable to use a good conditioner to restore some of the natural oils that have been removed by the chemicals. The conditioner is applied after the neutralizer is rinsed out and after the hair is first towel dried. After the conditioner is applied, the hair can be set in rollers and gently dried or styled and air dried.

Post Relaxing Treatment

Once hair has been relaxed it will require special ongoing treatment to protect the hair and maintain the effects of the straightening. If the newly relaxed hair is not treated with special care it can become brittle and stiff and "see through". Relaxed hair is more porous and tends to hold on to dulling residue. Therefore it is very important to rinse out shampoo and other hair products thoroughly.

Relaxed hair will also break more easily. Use a good detangling/ leave in conditioning product like Phytologie #7 and a wide pick with smooth teeth to detangle wet hair. Work from the bottom of your hair up towards the roots.

Regular deep conditioning is a must on hair that is chemically relaxed. Plan on doing a deep conditioning treatment once or twice a week and more if your hair needs it. You can use a high quality deep conditioning treatment like Edwin Paul Deep Conditioner, Phytologie's Phytocitrus Mask, Aveda's Curessence or Deep Penetrating Hair Revitalizer, Aveda's Beautifying Oil or whip up a special hot oil treatment.

Newly relaxed hair tends to become a lot drier. Use a moisturizing shampoo designed for chemically treated hair like Phytologie's Phytocidre Shampoo for chemically processed hair, Edwin Paul's Luxury Shampoo or ARTec's Smoothing shampoo. If you prefer an all natural chemical free shampoo designed to help chemically treated hair check out Paul Pender's Walnut Oil Shampoo and Burt's Bees Avocado Butter Treatment.

Use a good rinse out or leave-in conditioner as well. Chemically treated hair requires more careful and delicate treatment. If your hair does not respond well to the extra deep conditioning treatments you may want to do some moisture reconstructing treatments by using products like Edwin Paul's Moisture Reconstructor.

The only sure way to restore the appearance of chemically processed hair is through the application of good conditioning products. Chemical processing can erode the hair and damage the cuticle.

Conditioners will smooth the damaged outer surface of the hair by coating the hair and by putting back oils and proteins that chemical processing strips off.

When possible, limit the use of hot blow dryers and hot styling tools. If you must use a blow dryer, use on the coolest heat and apply a good protective leave in conditioner first.

Hot Oil Treatment

Heat enough olive oil to saturate your hair in a saucepan or in the microwave. Make sure it is just warm to the touch and not too hot. Dab the warm olive oil on the roots of your hair with a cotton ball. Wrap the hair in a plastic shower cap, cover with a hot towel and wait for at least 30 minutes. Shampoo and rinse. For extra conditioning, towel dry the hair and then apply a good leave in conditioner.

When possible, leave the olive oil on the hair for longer periods of time. Overnight is a great option (although somewhat messy).

Chemical Hair Straightening Faqs Part 3., General Relaxing Faqs

Chemical Hair Straightening Faqs Part 1., Introduction

Discuss this topic with others right now at the Salon Discussion Board!

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Karen M. Shelton is the founder of HairBoutique.com which has been featured in numerous magazines including 101 Celebrity Hairstyles, Today's Dallas Woman Magazine, WE-Women's Enterprise, The National Enquirer, American Salon Magazine and Self magazine, as well as international publications.

Karen M. Shelton was featured in DFW Tech Biz as winner of the Emerging CEO - Tech Titan award. In 2001 Ms. Shelton joined 101 Celebrity Styles & Short Cuts magazine as consumer hair editor.

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