Ceramides, Healthy Hair Care, Relaxed Hair Care

No-Lye Relaxers & Dealing with Dryness

For a very long time, if someone asked me whether I used lye or no-lye relaxer, I wouldn’t have been able to answer.  I knew that I used affirm, but that was all I knew.  As I started to learn more about my hair and decided to start relaxing my hair myself.  It became necessary for me to weigh the pros and cons of Lye versus No-Lye relaxers.  Oh…the great debate: one minute it’s in vogue to use No-Lye the next minute it’s out and everyone’s using Lye relaxers.  But for me, my scalp and my hair, I’ve decided to use a No-Lye Relaxer.

The Pros and Cons of No-Lye Relaxers

Why I LIKE it: It’s gentler on the scalp; it doesn’t burn the scalp as easily as a Lye relaxer will. And it gets the hair straighter.

Why I DON’T like it: To get the hair straighter it’s harsher on your hair.  The active ingredient in No-Lye Relaxers, calcium hydroxide, leaves your hair with calcium deposits.  These deposits settle into your hair and prevent your hair from receiving the benefits from your hair products.  The calcium deposits are not easily removed and will leave your hair feeling very dry.  I remember my first time using a no-lye relaxer the dryness that I experienced was really bad.  Nothing that I used seemed to remedy the dryness, even after globbing on moisturizers, deep conditioners, and oils.  Thankfully, I learned how to eliminate the dryness.

How I Deal with the Dryness of Ny-Lye Relaxers:

  • Chelating Shampoos. – a strong shampoo that not only removes product build up but it’s formulated specifically for removing mineral deposits (calcium, copper, chlorine, salts, etc).  Great for those who have hard water, use no-lye relaxers or swim in pools often.  Some popular examples
    • Mizani pHormula-7 Neutralizing and Chelating Shampoo (pictured below)
    • Joico K-Pak Clarify Shampoo — Chelating: Removes Chlorine Buildup
    • L’anza Swin Sun Daily Chelating
    • Kenra Clarifying Shampoo — Chelating formula for removing dulling deposits
    • and many more.
No-Lye Relaxers and Dealing with Dryness
  • Ceramide Products. Ceramides are lipids that form a protective barrier around your hair strands ensuring that the moisture and protein added to your hair stays put.  They are naturally occurring in your hair but as we manipulate our hair with relaxers, chemicals, heat and styling, we lose some of it.  They can be found in shampoos, conditioners, oils and leave-in treatments.  Some popular products and brands that use ceramide technology:
    • Nexxus Humectress Moisturizing Conditioner (pictured below)
    • Aubrey Organics Products
    • Redken Extreme Anti-Snap and the Extreme Shampoo
    • Matrix Biolage Cera-repair
    • Hemp Seed Oil
    • Wheat Germ Oil
    • Sunflower Oil
    • and several other products.


No-Lye Relaxers and Dealing with Dryness

In the end, I’ve learned how to eliminate the dryness from using no-lye relaxers and my scalp is thanking me for it.  Since self-relaxing with a no-lye relaxer, I’ve never burned my scalp or had the burning/tingling sensation.  Success!

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6 thoughts on “No-Lye Relaxers & Dealing with Dryness

  1. I'm loving your blog been browsing it all morning! 🙂 This post had my wheels turning on some products that I should start incorporating into my regimen. Can a chelating shampoo on a regular basis? or do you recommend only during relaxer days?


  2. The only reason I don't use it more often is because it's more expensive than regular shampoos. That large bottle of Mizani was $30+, if I remember correctly. So I try to conserve it as much as possible. But I do use it more frequently than the weeks surrounding my relaxer — just not with every wash day.

    And thanks for checking out my blog. It's always exciting to know that there are readers out there.

  3. Thanks for posting this. I switched to Affirm for my daughter's hair, thinking it was great to be able to purchase it at my local beauty supply. My daughter's hair was doing fine using Creme of Nature (sodium hydroxide) formula. After a few applications of Affirm my daughter's hair became dry and brittle and began to break off. I didn't understand until now. My baby's hair is very dry and nothing I do seemed to help. Any suggestions to reverse the tides? I'm thinking of just ditching the Affirm and going back to the Creme of Nature.

  4. Hey Alaysia, I'm so sorry that this is happening to your daughter. I remember when I was having the same issue when I switched to a no-lye formula and it was very frustrating. The first thing you are going to want to do even before you think about relaxing her hair again, is to resolve her dry brittle hair.

    For her next wash day use a Chelating shampoo and then give her a deep conditioning treatment with a moisturizing deep conditioner that contains ceramides. You can use one of the product suggested above or do a internet search for comparable products.

    When I was experiencing breakage/dryness from my no-lye relaxer, using Mizani phormula-7 Chelating Shampoo followed by Nexxus Therappe Shampoo (contains ceramides) and finished up with Nexxus Humectress (contains ceramides) turned my hair around with one wash.

    If you don't have access to these specific products, then search the internet for comparable substitutes and follow the same steps. I'm fairly certain that the dryness that your daughter is experiencing is because of mineral build up resulting from the no-lye relaxer.

    After you've alleviated the dryness, then it's up to you whether you want to switch back to Creme of Nature or continue using the Affirm. If you decide to use the Affirm No-Lye relaxer then you will want to remember that you have to use a Chelating Shampoo (as well as a Neutralizing Shampoo) after you apply to the relaxer to remove the calcium build up.

    I hope this helps you and your daughter. Good luck and please keep me posted! 🙂

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