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Hair Give it to me Straight

Relaxers Straighten Hair - Not All The Way, but enough to make tightly wound coils of hair look like soft curls or even loose waves. Long used by people of Afro-Caribbean descent, relaxers are also popular with curly-haired women of European ancestry. Like permanent waves, relaxers work by breaking down hair's bonds, then restructuring them in a different configuration. Unlike permanent waves, rollers are not used, which makes the procedure a bit easier and faster - but no less harsh. In fact, relaxing services often begin with an application of petroleum jelly or cream to the scalp; this protects skin from the harsh chemicals that follow.

If your hair is damaged, but not extremely so, don't be surprised if your stylist asks you to undergo a series of deep-conditioning treatments before she will relax your hair. If the damage is slight, she may agree to relaxing your hair on the spot after applying a protective conditioner - called a filler - to the porous, damaged areas of your hair. Next comes an application of the relaxing solution, which is painted on hair, then pulled through tresses to ensure all strands are coated.

The longer the solution is left on, the straighter the hair will be. However, because of its harshness, relaxing solution usually remains in place just 5 to 8 minutes to avoid harming hair. Note: Some chemical technicians actually comb relaxing solution through strands, although many experts feel this leads to severe breakage.

Fixing the relaxer When the hair has finished processing, the relaxing chemicals are rinsed away with warm water. This is a long rinse - some stylists keep their clients under the faucet for 10 to 15 minutes. Afterward, hair is shampooed for up to 10 minutes. Next comes a neutralizer solution ­often called a fixative or a stabilizer. Like the one used in a permanent­wave service, this neutralizer encourages the hair's bonds to stay put in their new configuration.

Some stylists finish the service with a deep-conditioning treatment to re­moisturize strands. Depending on the company that makes them, some relaxers use a neutralizing shampoo instead of separate applications of shampoo and neutralizer solution. Among the several types of relaxers are: Sodium hydroxide relaxers These are also known as lye relaxers. As the strongest of the relaxer types, sodium hydroxide formulas provide the fastest results and the most dramatic straightening effects.

While they are capable of making super-kinky hair super-straight, the chemicals are so damaging that it is not often recommended. A better option for most people with really curly hair is to go for a loose wave, which can be worn naturally, or, occasionally, blow­ dried straighter for special occasions. Calcium hydroxide relaxers These are often referred to as "no-lye" relaxers and contain a mixture of calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate. While calcium hydroxide relaxers are slightly less damaging than sodium hydroxide relaxers, they tend to create frizzy, fuzzy, rough-looking results - the chemicals simply aren't strong enough to evenly break down the hair's bonds. Ammonium thioglycolate relaxers Often called thio relaxers or perm relaxers, they use the same ingredients as many permanent waves.

The results, while thorough - none of that no-lye relaxer fuzziness here - are gentle. Thio relaxers are better at gently softening curls than aggressively turning kinks to waves. For this reason, they are popular with Caucasian curlytops and others whose original curls are on the moderate side.

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