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From: Gina Rivera (gina.lamasbeauty.com)
Subject: a better understanding of chemical straightening
Date: April 19, 2008 at 4:08 pm PST

Chemical straightening actually rearranges the basic structure of overly curly hair so that the hair is straight.

There are three basic types of chemical hair relaxers. These formulas range from:

Heavy duty - Sodium Hydroxide

Less intense - Ammonium Thioglycolate known as a “Thio formula

Mild Formula - Guanidine Hydroxide relaxers are referred to as the "no-lye" relaxers.

Sodium Hydroxide Hair Relaxer:

Sodium Hydroxide is used to remove unwanted curl from the hair. The difference between the strengths depends upon the percentage of active ingredients. When the cuticle is opened, the relaxer penetrates into the cortex layer of the hair. Once that happens, the sodium hydroxide breaks the disulfide bond. The hair will smooth out to a straightened form due to the weight of the crème, the pressure of hand smoothing, or in extremely curly hair, reapplying more product.

A base is always applied to the scalp before the relaxer is applied and if the client has been exercising that day or wearing a hat (anything that will promote the scalp pores to be open) the client is always put under a cool dryer before the relaxer is applied. Right after I apply the relaxer we always spray the ends with a protein. To protect the ends from the relaxer, and this also helps protect the ends in the rinsing process. We always apply a conditioner to the hair before we neutralize, Remember, the cuticle is wide open at this time (the outer layer of the hair) and this is the best time to condition the hair and penetrate the condition into the cortex layer of the hair.

We follow with a rinse and neutralize the hair, finishing off with a moisturizing conditioner. We will never color on the same day and I refuse to do a relaxer with highlights on the root area when doing a retouch relaxer.

The cortex layer is the middle or inner layer of the hair shaft that provides the strength, elasticity and shape of the curly hair.

Depending on various factors and the condition of the hair to be straightened, the strength of the sodium hydroxide solution may vary anywhere from mild to super. Also, the stronger the solution, the more potential damage can occur to the hair. Sodium hydroxide contains a high alkaline content and so special care should always be used when applying this chemical.

These relaxers do not defy frizz, and requires humidity control styling products.

Before coming in for your chemical relaxing treatments or a permanent wave, avoid scratching, excessive brushing or combing your hair. All of which might leave lacerations on the scalp causing “burning” if/when any of the chemical come into contact with the area. If newly chemically straightened hair is not given special treatment it can become brittle, dry, damaged and break. This is why we spray a protein on the ends of the hair. When combing this type of hair may be best to use a large toothcomb and start from the end of the hair up to the roots.

Ammonium Thioglycolate Hair Straightening. (Nicknamed "Thio relaxer")

Thioglycolate is used to straighten as well as curl the hair. Therefore, the process is reversible. The same chemical reaction that puts curl in the hair during the permanent waving procedure, takes curl out of hair in chemical straightening. Thioglycolate is the main chemical ingredient in Japanese Thermal Reconditioning/TR systems, and permanent wave products. This process is much less drastic in its action than the sodium hydroxide. It acts a little differently by softening and relaxing overly curly hair through changes to the hair's cystine linkage.

Thio works on the same formulation principles as Thioglycolate permanent waves. Thio relaxers are also considered to be less damaging, yet still require a neutralization step. Since Thio relaxers are considered much milder, the risk of hair damage is also reduced by comparison to the sodium hydroxide.

Today thioglycolate is the # one choice with stylists.

Guanidine Relaxers:
Guanidine relaxers, in my opinion, is a lie; because once it is mixed with the activator it becomes a lye relaxer. Although, the good thing about this chemical is that it is not as harsh on the scalp and is not as strong as a regular Sodium Relaxer. Generally used on clients with a sensitive scalp.

Keep in mind regular intense protein treatments are a must to replenish the protein that has been weakened by chemicals. This will maintain not only the look you want, but also the healthy hair we all desire.

Hair Treatment and Care:

In order for the hair to be reconditioned properly it needs to have the vital elements that have been eliminated by daily abuse.

A protein-based formula of the correct molecular weight and size range builds strength into hair to improve the way it responds to chemical services.

A moisturizing-based formula softens and adds flexibility.
Hair, when it looses many of its protein parts through combing, brushing, heat styling and chemical services becomes “tired” (loose protein) and must be fed with protein and moisturizers to replenish the supply. If this “food” (protein) is not present, the hair becomes badly damaged “sick”, no bounce, brittle and dry.

Keep in mind any time you use a protein you must follow with a moisturizer. And please be sure to rinse the protein out of your hair completely

Healthy hair gives the hair pliability that it needs to hold a style and lubricates the interior layers of the hair so it has bounce and body. Moisture imbalance happens when the cuticle is damaged. The hair can have too much or to little moisture that of to little is more common. The most common cause of moisture damage is thermal styling. Dryness is also a side effect of chemical services. Chemical services that alter the cortex may cause protein loss. Protein loss almost never occurs without moisture loss.


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