Let’s Talk About Relaxer Application Time.

Let's Talk About Relaxer Application Time
Relaxer Application time starts the moment relaxer touches your hair and ends when you start rinsing it.  Finding the right application time is essential for consistent texture throughout the the length of your hair.  If you’re not bone straight staying close to your goal time will help with that consistency in texture.  And it avoids frustration and breakage later on.  My hair is relaxed but not bone straight (or texlaxed) because there are no curls just wrinkles, lol.  With each relaxer I try to relax my hair within the same 5 minute window.  I’m always working as fast as possible to get the relaxer applied all over my hair — my goal for that part is 12 minutes (I haven’t gotten there yet, but I’m getting close).  And then I use the remaining application time to go back through and smooth my roots making sure that every hair strand is saturated in relaxer.

The Texture of My Relaxed Hair:

I have noticed that it’s not often that we, relaxed ladies, reveal how long we leave relaxer in our hair.  It’s way more customary to share our DC time than our relaxer application time.  And that’s with good reason, you don’t want someone to burn their scalp/over process their hair by relying on a time that works for your hair.  Plus thus we’re all after a different “after relaxer” texture.  Finding the right relaxer application time depends on (1) what relaxer you’re using, (2) your desired degree of straightness, (3) your hair’s resistance, and (3) trial and error.  

I use the Affirm Fiberguard Relaxer System (the No-Lye version), which by most accounts is not known for yielding bone straight results.  And the application times on their instructions call for 13, 15 or 18 minutes depending upon the coarseness/resistance of your hair.  However, my hair is fine to medium and I leave my relaxer in for 21-25 minutes.  The varied times comes in because I’m always watching my roots, especially at the crown (the most resistant) and the edges(the least resistant), for the straightness achieved while the relaxer is still in.  I do this now, because one time I went 29 minutes and my edges got the worst of it.  I was moving too slowly and wasn’t paying attention to the time. See Relaxer Update September 2011 for more on that.

September 2011 Relaxer

What’s your relaxer application time? What relaxer do you use? What’s your desired texture (bone straight, relaxed, texlaxed)?  And would you consider your hair resistant?

30 Comments


  1. My application time is less than 15 minutes since I started using the ear to ear method of parting and applying my relaxer. I have fine to medium strands also and don't consider my hair resistant.


  2. Hi there!
    This was a great post because for the past year, I have searched for the right relaxer and application time for myself. I have gotten closer and closer but not there yet. I have used ORS No-lye twice, overall I hated it but it might not be the relaxers fault. Last touch-up I accepted the fact that my hair is coarse and resistant. Suggested application times will not work for me but I'm so terrified of overprocessing that I jump the gun before the relaxer can really do work. Self-texlaxing has been the hardest part of my journey.

    http://notjustmyhair.blogspot.com/2013/11/lye-self-relaxer.html


  3. My hair is fine and I have varied textures throughout my hair so that coupled with the fact that I quickly learned that I cannot apply relaxer quickly to my whole head led me to relax using the half and half method some time ago.

    I leave the relaxer on for 15-20 minutes, I set my alarm for 15 minutes and then know that it is time to get my butt in gear and start rinsing asap! Application takes about 10-12 minutes and smoothing is 5-8mins.

    I apply my relaxer in a weird way, but it works for me. Using the half and half method, I also work in pre-defined sections mirroring application on certain (numbered) sections on each side of my head rather than doing the right/left side then the other. I've found that I get much more consistent results this way. I'm going to switch things up for my next relaxer as my hair is in different sections which I will keep for the relaxer process so it will be interesting to see if my application time decreases and my results are as good or better.

    Your hair looks GREAT! Maybe you could come and relax my hair for me….? 🙂


  4. I leave ORS lye on for 11 minutes. In the past I've had stylist leave relaxers on for 25 mins but those were during my bone straight days.


  5. I use ORS Lye for Fine to Medium textured hair. My application and smoothing time is 15 – 20 mins. I used to use less time but my hair would not straighten well.


  6. I tried the affirm relaxer and always got under processed results, when I could follow the suggested application time. The next time I relax I'm thinking about timing how long it takes for my hair to process to the texture I want and seeing how that works out. But I'm not sure yet, self-relaxing is tricky lol.


  7. I use ORS Lye relaxer and I leave it on for 13 minutes for a texlaxed texture. I would not consider my hair resistant at all.


  8. Great post Kim. It's definitely a personal thing as it depends on so many different factors. I've noticed that since switching to lye I have to leave the relaxer on slightly longer x


  9. I know what you mean. It takes time to figure out what time works for you. But you're right to add time slowly because you don't want to over process your hair. Good luck to you, Aku O!


  10. Hey Carissa, I've never tried the half and half method, but I know a lot of self-relaxers use it. It removes some of the pressure of getting through the entire head in the allotted time. Using pre-defined sections is smart though because that's what tends to slow me down when I take longer than expected.


  11. You are right about Affirm, especially the Fiberguard system. It does not process the hair as straight as other brands, which is why I like it. I can get through my entire head in 25 minutes and the risk of getting over processed or bone straight hair is just not likely. But you are right about self-relaxing. It takes time to get the hang of it.


  12. Ear to Ear…that's something new. I'm going to look into that. Thanks for commenting, Candice!


  13. I'm really impressed with these shorter application times. Thanks for commenting, Jeni!


  14. I use Dark& Lovely Relaxer in regular strength. My ideal time would be 20 minutes but I never can get to that time, especially since I'm applying it myself… I also have a few wrinkles left in my hair after rinsing it out. I know your no pro, but do you have any tips on how to apply the relaxer faster? Any special tools you use (besides those dinky popsicle sticks that come with the relaxer)?


  15. This is perhaps the trickiest part of my hair journey. I think a big part of the reason I haven't gotten this down pat yet is because it only comes around once or twice a year, not often enough for me to perfect it. Anyway, I have used motions and ORS, the former left me too underprocessed and the latter too straight. I'm gonna try the ORS again in a few weeks, and try to get the timing right.

    Abbi of http://belowthawaist.blogspot.jp/


  16. This is a great topic. Everyone is so different. My max time is 15 minutes. I would like it to be less than that, but I'm not sure how possible it is to do my whole head any quicker. When I was bone straight, it was easily 30 mins. I didn't even time myself sometimes and just worked it until it looked straight enough. I might have to try your Affirm relaxer since it's known for underprocessing and the specific line of Elasta QP relaxer I use has been harder and harder for me to find.


  17. I am usually a 20-22 minute girl, but I notice at the salon – while I love my stylist – she takes a little longer. I'm debating as to whether or not I want her to relax me when I go home or if I want to direct my cousin (who has her cosmo license) thru how I like it done. It was suuuuuuuuper straight the last time and although I don't texlax and my hair didn't feel overprocessed, I don't want two touch ups like that back to back. Then again, I'm considering continuing to stretch also so….we'll see. I'm all over the place, LOL!


  18. Very interesting posts. Since I started texlaxing I keep tge relaxer on my head for about 15 mins. I am now thinking am looking for more of the just wavy texture as you hsve put it so I will be leavimg it longer, I am definitely still experimenting on tge texture am going forward.


  19. I use a sprush-like applicator that's made by Goodys. I found it at my local/neighborhood beauty supply store. As for tips for going faster. I straighten/stretch my new growth the week before relaxing to make sectioning my hair as I go a long easier on relaxer day. Also practice makes perfect: try timing yourself with a conditioner instead of relaxer to see if you can improve your speed. Your roots will thank you for it, especially if you're deep into a relaxer stretch. Good luck, Harlem!


  20. Good luck with your next relaxer Abbi. ORS seems to be pretty popular, so hopefully that will help you get your desired straightness.


  21. Hi Melanie, Affirm is difficult to find as well. I have to order it online. But I do like it. I think I'd be bone straight if I were using another relaxer system and taking as long as I do to apply my relaxer. But when I used the regular Affirm relaxer and went to the salon, I'm pretty sure I went well over 30 minutes.


  22. I did my first self texlax with my last touch up, the time factor was very stressful for me, I used the half and half method, which worked very well but is pretty tedious. At my next touch up I am considering getting my mom to help me because I don't think I will be fast enough.

    I used ORS no-lye relaxer in medium strength and I processed for 13 minutes.

    I had some underprocessed parts, so I might increase this time by 1 minute at me next touch up. I love the fact that I have taken charge of my own hair, but I wish the relaxer bit came with a definite manual, this trial and error thing is really nerve wracking!


  23. The trial and error is VERY unnerving. But it's the risk we take by doing it ourselves. The good part is that with time, it will become less stressful and you'll have your own personal fail-safe manual.

    Good luck with your next relaxer, Lungi! I think it's a great idea to have some back up. It will definitely help with your speed/timing to have someone there to help out.


  24. Hi. What is the average total time you have the relaxer in your hair from the very start to finish?


  25. Hi Tolu,

    All the times in this blog post reflect the time spent from the moment I put relaxer on the first strand of my hair to the moment that I turn the faucet on to rinse the relaxer from my hair (unless otherwise stated).

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