Monday, May 18, 2009

Embrace Your Hairitage: Stop Living the "Lye"

There are two types of chemical straighteners that dominate the hair market today. Sodium Hydroxide “Lye” perms and Guanidine hydroxide (also known as Lithium Hydroxide “No Lye” perms. With pH (potential hydrogen) levels between 12%-14%, sodium hydroxide is an extremely corrosive alkali chemical. Anything with a pH level higher that 7% is alkaline and anything below is acid- the lowest being 1% and highest being 14%. The FDA banned the use of more than 10% sodium hydroxide in it’s household cleaner liquids. 

Guanidine hydroxide or “no lye” relaxers doesn’t imply that there aren’t any strong chemicals used or that chemicals used are somehow less potentially damaging. There is really no difference between the two. A lower pH level is only replaced by more acid causing the same damages to both the hair and scalp.

BOTH SH and GH have extremely high pH levels. BOTH immediately strip the hair of all it’s moisture, due to the fact that any retention of moisture would reduce the effectiveness of the relaxer. 

..::put your thinking caps on::..

when you get your relaxer...ever notice:

-your stylist has to wear GLOVES in order to apply the relaxer;

-you can’t keep it in more than 5 minutes, otherwise it will burn AND scar;

-if your stylist is pregnant, she must wear a MASK to apply the relaxer; 

-as the instructions state, you have to NEUTRALIZE your hair directly after washing it out

There are specific scientific reasons for ALL of the instructions. 

Aside from the effects to the hair, these chemicals are absorbed through the skin into the tissues, cells and bloodstream. Just as there are drugs that absorb through the skin ie. niccotine patches, birth control etc, the relaxer is no exception.  Relaxers aren’t drugs but the skin definitely absorbs everything. There are not only short term, but also long term harmful effects to the hair, skin, circulatory system. 

For more information you can read this or visit this site or this site.

-Hotep SistaS


  1. This is the best information! I somehow have to link it to this article on my site.

  2. Thanks. Good looking fam. Appreciate you checking in...

  3. Hello there!

    The relaxer should never be put on the skin! This is why the scalp is coated with vaseline.

    I don't think that those who wear chemical styles are denying their blackness. They are exercising their choice to try different looks with their hair and even shampoos and conditions are CHEMICALS...

    Thanks for the links about the dangers of relaxer products that touch the skin. If there were life-threatening dangers, how would the products remain on the market without any lawsuits from consumers? The tobacco industry is bombarded with suits.

  4. Don't know where to start, so I'll just list my ideas.

    1. No the entire scalp is not coated with vaseline, just the edges and MAYBE a scalp that is parted to make the 4 sections. The rest is fair game.

    2. It's DEF a denial of their true selves/blackness/Afrikaness etc. For if we knew and appreciated our true selves, we would not try so hard to assimilate to "our masters" (not current, but I say that to show from where it stems).

    3 . Yes, most shampoos and conditioners have chemicals, but those who choose not to use chemicals know where to find those c/s that have no chemicals at all. seek and you shall find.

    4. I haven't done any research on any lawsuits involving hair products/ chemicals/relaxers etc, so I really can't speak on that. I know it's not AS life-threatening as tobacco/nicotine but it DOES have it's health risks in the long run.

    Thanks for the comment nonetheless.


  5. I dont know where to begin. I did not know that relaxers were so damaging to the body.
    However, thinking critically the only reason why I use relaxers is to easily tame my hair.
    I don't feel in any way that I am denying my culture or heritage.
    My mom is from the Virgin Islands and my dad is from Nigeria. I feel very close to both sides of my family.
    If there is a product that's not as dangerous as relaxers but definitely makes it easier to tame my hair I would like to know of it.
    Nonetheless your post was very informative. Thank You.

  6. You're welcome! I'm not big on hair products that "tame hair" so I wouldn't know where to direct you. But thanks for reading this! I really appreciate it.


  7. Great Post!!! I am a natural and I have been one my's the way to go =) and it's cheaper =)

  8. Thanks sis. Viva la natural!! lol