I switched to a lye relaxer like I said I would. And you know what, I’m feeling really good about it. I’ve been using a no-lye relaxer since my first attempt at self-relaxing and I never looked back. And a no-lye relaxer was a safe bet for the self-relaxing newbie that I was, who wasn’t trying to burn her hair (and scalp) off trying something new. For years I was happy with my choice. I had no complaints. But recently I began to wonder if maybe using the no-lye relaxer was the cause of my stalled progress. So, with the lye relaxer being a bit more “conditioning” to the hair, I decided to make the switch and see how things went.
The Application Process.
While I can’t speak for all lye and all no-lye relaxers, I can compare the no-lye relaxer that I have been using for years (Affirm Fiberguard Sensitive Scalp relaxer) with the new Lye relaxer that I just tried, the Design Essentials Regular Conditioning Relaxer. The first thing I immediately noticed was that the lye was a lot thicker than I’m accustomed to. The Affirm is more of a yogurt-like consistency while the Design Essentials was more like sour cream or ricotta cheese (a lot thicker). It made me a little uncomfortable when I opened the container, but honestly it ended up being perfect for applying the relaxer.
Did it Burn?
I set out to apply the relaxer one-eighth of an inch away from my scalp (I even had an elaborate set up of mirrors to help me make sure I could accomplish this and see every angle of my head). Because I knew that I had to do whatever I could to avoid having the lye relaxer touch my scalp, especially if I wanted to make it anywhere close to 15 minutes. Having this thicker consistency was perfect for application because where ever I put that relaxer it was not going to go anywhere until I moved it myself, which was great. I was able to get through and apply the relaxer to all my new growth in 10 minutes with no burning or tingling sensation. I was feeling real pumped about it. It wasn’t until 18 minutes that I starting to feel tingles, but at that point I was almost through smoothing the last two quadrants of my hair. I was able to rinse the half that was tingling out first (giving the last two quadrants a little more time to process).
Washing Out the Relaxer.
The downside to the relaxer being thicker led to me spending a considerable amount of time removing the relaxer from my hair. I didn’t time this part, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it took 20 minutes. Thankfully this relaxer system, requires that you neutralize immediately after you apply the relaxer (no mid-step protein), so I started using the neutralizing shampoo to aid in the removal process after the first few minutes. Next time I’ll be a little less heavy handed with the amount of relaxer that I apply to each section. Hopefully that will help to make rinsing easier next time.
Do I notice a difference in my hair?
I don’t know if it’s in my head (and I really hope it’s not), but my hair feels softer and silkier to me. The real test will come as the weeks go on and I get back to air drying. But hopefully the natural sheen and softness will continue on. Regardless my hair feels so much better to me right now and I’m happy for that. Let me know if you notice a difference in these pictures above.
For more on how my relaxer day went and my future plans with relaxer stretching:
Summit Sensitive Scalp Base Creme
Design Essentials Regular Conditioning Relaxer
Design Essentials Neutralizing Shampoo
Elasta QP Stop Action Neutralizing Shampoo
Design Essentials 6N1 Reconstructive Conditioner
Design Essentials Bamboo & Silk HCO Blow Dry Spray
Design Essentials Express Instant Conditioner
Chi Silk Infusion Serum