The Harmful Effects Of Relaxers – A Critical Look And My Own Experience

relaxers

Our girl Chime Edwards has been on a real educational kick lately and her latest video is about some of the harmful effects of relaxers.

She makes a note to say that her video is in no way intended to bash women who use relaxers but basically to give you more awareness on what we might be using in our lifestyles. “Each one teach one”, right?

I never watched Chris Rock’s movie on black hair back in the day.  Actually, I generally do not really watch videos about the dangers of relaxers, just on this occasion.

This video intrigued me, more so because I am subscribed to Chime and I trust her content for the most part. Additionally it reminded me of my own experience with relaxed hair.

I remember before ‘the final straw’ I could not for the life of me get my hair to be healthy regardless of how much protein I used, how much money I spent with the stylist, how much I deep conditioned, it just did not matter. My hair broke and shed as if I neglected it for months at a time.

With all of that said I never one time considered giving up my relaxer, I never ever thought that it was the problem because I just did not want my hair any other way than straight. I refused to listen to what my hair was telling me.


Then it happened, I lost all of my hair in the middle of my head. It fell out, gone,…. kaput, it gave up on me and I was forced to make a decision.

My hair is very very fine. If you read my posts you will probably hear me say that I have the finest hair on the planet. Fine hair cannot survive years of relaxing and I learned that the hard way.

Ladies when your body is telling you something you should listen, this is my one and only message to you based on my own experience. But I have to be honest, do I recommend relaxers? No! Based on what I went through, how can I?

What I will not do however is bash another person for their choice to relax. We will not stop educating women who relax or go natural on the best way to care for their hair though. Through education you can decide for yourself on the best choices for you.

Check out Chime’s video and share your thoughts below:

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About Petra


Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

About Petra


Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

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Wangari Mwenda

this is why vaseline was invented,use some

Lashonda Taylor

Lmao

Brittany Richardson

Clearly you need to do your research on how relaxers damage your scalp…but i guess you suggest one put vaseline on each section of that too….smh

Val Rice Kennedy

I had relaxed hairs for years and my hair was past my shoulders. I decided to jump on the natural hair bandwagon. Almost three years after the big chop my hair was about 4 inches long. Imagine my sadness and devastation as I watched women have beautiful long locks 18 months after the big chop. Also my hair was constantly shedding shedding shedding and not growing. Yes I have always gotten my hair done by a professional and when natural I was constantly braiding my own hair to keep it “protected”, but nothing helped. I went back to a relaxers about 7 months ago and while my hair is not down my back it is past my ears. So while I applaud natural women (and yes I’m sad I’m not one of them) it’s more important for my hair to be healthy than natural.

Brittany Richardson

Your natural hair was only 4 inches long after 3 years??? Lmao. You either lying your ass off or didnt take care of your natural hair the way you’re supposed to…wth? Natural hair takes more time to take care of than relaxed hair but it should have grown more than 4 inches in 3 years….I call BS but oh well…none of my bizz..

Val Rice Kennedy

Believe it or not I have no reason to lie (I don’t know you and I’m not being compensated. I’m just sharing my personal experience) and I didn’t actually measure it but it was TINY. I know natural hair takes more care which is why I continued to use a stylist. I’m sure it was growing but it was shedding at a faster rate. It was extremely dry and brittle. No I don’t know why I’m not a stylist but it is what it is.

Lauren G
Lauren G

Hey Val I feel you! I was having the same issues with my hair (shedding, slow growth, etc.) I went to two different dermatologists in addition to my own family doctor to see what the problem was. No one could give me an answer so I started to pay REALLY close attention to what I was using on my hair, how I was handling my hair, my diet, my environment, stress level -EVERYTHING because I was desperate to find out why my hair was taking so long to grow. I finally found out that it wasn’t just ONE thing. It was a combination of things. Here is what I did to get my hair to grow more and shed less: After experimenting with what seemed like every hair care product on the market (product junkie in recovery) I finally found a shampoo/condition/moisturizer that didn’t irritate the heck out of me Shea Moisture African Black Soap shampoo and conditioner, Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus hair smoothie as a moisturizer, and Kinky Curly custard for hold. You may have your own choices but that’s just a start (Shea Moisture has the least irritating, most natural products I’ve used so far). I also started using a water filter for my shower head -chlorine in the water was killing me! I also started to watch what I ate -no more processed foods and PLENTY of water. II’m from Ohio but I live in North Carolina now and have never needed to use sunscreen. I began to use it for my skin but never considered that my hair and scalp might need sunscreen as well so guess what? Yep I found sun for those areas as well (I use Banana Boat brand but you can just Google sunscreen for hair and scalp for more choices). I know this was a bit lengthy but I hope it helps. -LG

Brittany Richardson

There actually are reasons to lie. One would be to make relaxed hair seem better than being natural…if you say you arent lying then i have no choice but to believe you. However, you have yourself to blame as I have said. You mosy likely didnt take care of your hair correctly. I had have relaxers all my life and NEVER been taught how to care for my natural hair. So i was in your boat once i did the big chop. I got frustrated but little did i know that i wasnt taking care of it properly. I had to learn this crap on my own. But it takes patience and dedication. It would have been great if uou wouldve stayed natural but, i guess shit happens….

Cosmo Ellon

Oh boy here we go

Mera Anderson

Right!!!^^^ put vaseline around your ears, neck, forehead and scalp.

Debby Akhimie

I still get burns after applying vaseline… Kiddies relaxer leave my scalp burnt. Relaxers weren’t just meant for me.

Tiffany Nicole Roberts

Kiddie relaxers aren’t for adults !! That’s why you had bad experience with that !! And you have to apply the vaseline only around the perimeter of the hairline

Debby Akhimie

Tiffany I resorted to kiddies relaxers cos of how tender my scalp is and I still got burns. It was way milder than the adult relaxers but I still got burns. My scalp goes red if I touch too much even now that I am natural. Relaxers aren’t for me,wish they were. Vaseline doesn’t work either so quit with the exclamations.

Chelsea Marie

I am so glad that you support all types of black hair! That is something I try to spread throughout our community too. There is no need to hate natural or relaxed women. Everyone has the right to choose what they prefer. Let’s continue education on finding your own healthy hair journey 🙂 I love this page!

Jenny JackJack

Use some Vaseline and don’t scratch, comb, or shampoo before your relaxer! Read the directions and make sure that you wash the chemicals out with a neutralizing shampoo …. Next ….

Kamela M Oxner

Also , avoid caffeinated drinks prior to re-touch or virgin relaxer

Anette Sanders

Kamela……what? I’ve been relaxing my hair since I was 13 by myself, I know not to scratch my scalp and I lightly grease my scalp two days before I relax and of course I use grease around my ears but I’ve been doing it so long I’m a pro, hair be laid in 25 minutes

Lashonda Taylor

DIRECTIONS, what are those? Lol!!!

Jenny JackJack

Kamela M Oxner that’s an important rule!!! Coffee and relaxers are a no no lol!

Michele Miller

What’s wrong with coffee and relaxers? I have had a relaxer while drinking coffee plenty of times.

Brittney Latoy Cruz

It can irritate the scalp remember everyone is diff. This is very true my beautician will not relax you’re hair if you drink it in her shop before hand

Kerimah Rogers

Oh give me a break. It’s mighty funny that in the 90’s and 00’s before this “natural hair” craze came about, all these articles bashing relaxers were non-existent. All I ever saw all around me was every black girl/woman running to the salon to get their hair relaxed at the slightest little kink that appeared. At that time, I DID NOT wear relaxers, I had texturizers, so my hair was never bone straight but it was long and thick. All I heard from other girls is, “when are you getting a perm”, “you need a stronger perm” and “why don’t you get perms”? Now, I relax my hair with a mild relaxer and I don’t have (and have never had) problems with scalp burn and all the stuff these women have. Relaxed isn’t for everyone, natural isn’t for everyone.

Tiffany Nicole Roberts

That’s true !! I’ve had relaxers in my hair for so long since I was 13, now I stopped getting them because my hair was falling out , it’s been 6 months since I had a relaxee, I’ve return to my natural state !! But I’ve planned on going back to it soon

Dina Fagan

I have had relaxers for yrs and never had these issues and she is so right now the natural phase and bashing relaxers. I know several people that WERE natural and went back to relaxers. It ain’t all cracked up like they thought it would be.

Kerimah Rogers

My hair just grows in too thick and I’m too lazy to maintain and do the work that natural hair requires. My life and career keeps me too busy for that

Suzette Hinds-Riddick

When you know better you do better

Cb Sampson

As a race we can change for the better and thats what we are doing relaxing your hair causes fiberoids also

Kerimah Rogers

Ok so what about the non-black women who DON’T relax their hair and still have fibroids, cancer, and everything else?

Kerimah Rogers

My stomach should be LOADED with fibroids by now if that’s the case.

kay
kay

Unless you’ve had an ultrasound and went looking, you wouldn’t know you had them. I had 8 and never felt a thing or had any symptoms.

Jenny JackJack

I never get scalp burns either! This article is just a scare tactic !

Jenny JackJack

Women of all races get fibroids … And trust me these women do not have relaxers. I still haven’t met a relaxed black lady with the condition.

kay
kay

3 times as many black women compared to other races get fibroids. In most cases there are no symptoms that’s why you think no one you know has them. You can’t feel them. I didn’t know I had them till I had an ultrasound done. Then I found 8.

Krystal White

Sad that the hair that grows out of your scalp isn’t “for you”

Jenny JackJack

Yeah yeah^^^ said the lady that has fake hair and braids in her pictures ! Stop wearing weave if you love your natural hair so much ! There’s nothing worst than a hypocrite .

Tonya Gross

I went to a “professional” who burned the hair out of the top of my head, as I complained the relaxer was burning, and I recently had surgery to remove fibroids. Every case is different.

Hindala Jones

ooch that hurt’s

Alesha Clayton

Base really well

Elldwinia Brown English

Natural

Tiffany Nicole Roberts

That’s why you have to put vaseline, or base creme around the perimeter of the hairline before applying relaxer !!

Tiffany Washington Robinson

Looks like no scalp base was used, ever……. It’s called Sensitive Scalp.

Je'ney Hawthorne

Lies….use the petroleum duh

Taylor Arianna

Base or Vaseline problem solved. Stop acting like relaxers are the devil because you do one in your kitchen.

Retta Williams-allen

The directions in every box says to use Vaseline. Some people just don’t want to take the time to read instructions!

Sherry VanHorn

STOP TELAXING YOUR OWN HSIR PEOPLE….. SEEK PROFESSIONAL STYLIST ……….THESE CHEMICALS WERE USE FOR SALON USE ONLY

Cha LaBranche

The new found hate for relaxed hair is funny AF like there’s a lot of women w natural hair n their hair isn’t healthy !! It’s all about taking care of your hair relaxed or permed

Jenny JackJack

Those natural are bald headed the majority of the time , but always trying to throw shade at the relaxed chicks .

Traneia Patterson

Im keepn ma relaxer!!! Luv it!!!

Tonya Gross

Not about hating relaxers, it’s about informing. Some people just don’t know how to take care of their hair.
Btw natural does not equal bald. No shade, just uplifting.

Jenny JackJack

Honestly you’re wasting your time informing us relaxed heads… There is a high amount of diseases in the black community such as obesity , high blood , high cholesterol etc that you should be more concerned about…. Go preach about that. I’ve seen tons of obese naturals running around here.

Nina Douglas

I read in a hair book once, its not the relaxer that damages your hair, it’s how you used it.

Shelly Goody Allison

YOU HAVE TO READ AND FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS

Brandy Wine

Read the directions on the product and follow them, you should have no problems…

Kenyetta McCarty

It’s called a relaxer not a bone straightener, so please stop blaming relaxers for damage scalps and hair loss… blame do it yourself kits and miss use of the product please!

Ashley Ruiz

This that s**t I be talking about… An underhanded disapproval/bashing of relaxers. Please educate everyone on the harms of ingredients in MOST products people are using in their hair. Please talk about how most of these “organic” or “all natural” hair companies are just greenwashed. I’ll wait. Oh, you won’t, but you will continuously talk about the dangers of relaxers? Ok… Another dumb article…

Wanjiku Kathy

Go natural

James L. Mitchell

Yea so vaseline is a big no no and use a good scalp base and please don’t be cheap and use a box relaxer then your hair will be laying in the sink. This came from not basing the scalp and from someone not knowing what they were doing. Prime example of a kitchen beautician.

Claudine Woods

Another reason to go natural.

La'Toya Singletary

This is why you grease the hairline very well before application.

Val Rice Kennedy

I had relaxed hairs for years and my hair was past my shoulders. I decided to jump on the natural hair bandwagon. Almost three years after the big chop my hair was about 4 inches long. Imagine my sadness and devastation as I watched women have beautiful long locks 18 months after the big chop. Also my hair was constantly shedding shedding shedding and not growing. Yes I have always gotten my hair done by a professional and when natural I was constantly braiding my own hair to keep it “protected”, but nothing helped. I went back to a relaxers about 7 months ago and while my hair is not down my back it is past my ears. So while I applaud natural women (and yes I’m sad I’m not one of them) it’s more important for my hair to be healthy than natural.

Cb Sampson

You do not need to relax your hair it is beautiful natural and can be straightened when you want it that way

Traneia Patterson

But wont stay that way!!!

Raynisha Renee Jackson

My hair is natural but i tell you what, i struggle. I try to flat iron my hair or press it out.. 10minutes later, it’s curly again. I done sweated it out. But when I had relaxers in my hair, i could sweat & my curl would still be there, hanging tightly. So yea with a relaxer, alot of styles & looks using heat are more possible than with natural hair using heat…

Cb Sampson

RAYNISHA IF YOU ROLLER SET THE HAIR THEN BLOW IT OUT ITS STAYS LONGER ALSO WRAP IT AT NITE SEEK THE HELP OF A PRO IT MAYBE TO MUCH TO TRY TO DO YOURSELF MINE STAYS FOR A WEEK

CityTruck Prod

That’s caused because you let it get on your skin. and it looks as if you didn’t use gloves either . . .your nails are horrible.

Patrice Lomax

Um … never had that happen. Line your scalp, hairline, and ears with some type of protectant (even Vaseline is OK) and this won’t happen!

Andrea Gray Muhammad

Please!!!! She already had an irritation behind her ear. If the relaxer tush it most definitely it’s going to get worse.

Amanda Bradley

Funny how they never mention naturals lol if yall feel some type of way it’s a personal problem you can’t say one isn’t healthier than the other…by default less chemicals with anything is better but babyyyyy understand you don’t have to explain yourself to nobody!! Lmfaoooooo I’m sensing a lot of insecurities in these comments bahahaha

Ni-Ni Patterson

Sorry, but that is why you prep your previously relaxed hair, scalp, and perimeter. Relaxer isn’t supposed to touch your scalp or skin in the 1st place. Just hair. And just in case it does, whatever you base your scalp with, along with making sure to refrain from washing or doing anything that will irritate your scalp, works well. I’m beyond “tender headed”, and my scalp is easily irritated, but I know how to relax and style my hair without losing my “edges”, “kitchen”, or just hair in general. It’s not that hard to properly relax hair without having horror stories left behind.

On the other hand, relaxers don’t work for everyone. I know people who have gone to a professional and no matter what, the relaxer would not take. Others have thin and/or weak hair anyway, so it’s obvious as to why they don’t go over well for them.

Fox Lisa

Never has this problems . some people just have sensitive skin.

Alycia M. Ward

I HATE anything greasy/oily on and near my face bc my face is naturally oily but I slathered that Vaseline. Forehead, edges, whole ears, neck lol. It all got washed with that neutralizing shampoo too. Some forget that stuff runs when your washing it out.

Carmen Martinez

🙂 :-[ :-

Goldie Munnings

Again Black Hair you are wrong you insist on this unprofessional lies any professional know to base the hair line 34years never seem this Clients shouldn’t brush or pull hair in ponytail on relaxer day or comb the hair ruffly and not on your period

Deon L Singleton-Rivera

Lmao!

Tana Hickman

CLEARLY, THEY MUST HAVE RAN OUT OF WATER……..RINSE, RINSE, RINSE!

Toy Jaynell

I’m in transition but I will say when I use to relax my hair,I would get bad scalp burns but that was only because my hair sweat so bad. nothing is wrong with a relaxer or being natural as long as you take care of it.i will never understand why relax and natural hair people shade each other.

Lillian Lovett

Natural is the way to go.or use Vaseline to base of hair before relaxing

Laneshia Gunter

Smfh. Everybody hardheaded. This is not the Great Debate, this is an opinion piece. Stop the third degree and take care of your hair as you wish.

ItsMizz Jay Birdy

Lmbo jenny jack needs a dam job you stay on every post everybody hair isnt the same. She emotional yall .Plz black hair hire her ass. But why so much hate on us naturals you mad or nah lmbo. Pure f**kery foolishness. Its either it grows or dont but dont come hate on my natural lane tho, excuse me us naturals. No its not a headache and you can get bone straight results like a perm. And before some jerk comments yes ive done both perm and natural so save it

Lynette Bufford

That is your experience..I’ve never had that problem and I have been relaxing my hair all of my life

Delvita Brumfield

self respect and pride in what we do have is what will make us strong and untouchable

Aquarius Love

Transitioned from relaxed to natural hair in 2009…loving my waves and curls. I didn’t know they were there til I chopped off the relaxed hair. Natural and versatile. #loveit

Besette Robinson

I know that all too well been natural for 2 years best decision I ever made

Robbie Holloway

I used grease in it still burns my ears in face.

Sophia DIxon

Protect your skin, simple, simple, I still love relaxers just don’t over do it.

Raynisha Renee Jackson

Okay! That’s the whole point! It’s supposed to be YOUR HAIR. Don’t worry about everybody else’s hair you know? Unless you are a stylist such as myself, then yeah you can worry about the clients that walk in your door. Consult to them honestly & you have the right to refuse service. I don’t understand all of this , the need too get people to jump on their bandeagon when everybody should be themselves… maybe one is scared to have a different style than others & would feel better being apart of a community if everyone had the same? Like they were scared to stand out & be different.

AshLi K-Burke

Most hair dressers gossip 2 much