New Information Regarding Sensitive Scalp Relaxers

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Over the years, our research teams noticed a puzzling inconsistency in the rate of relaxing process: the same Sensitive Scalp Relaxers showed radically different activity, even though they were applied to the same single hair fibers. A close analysis of the procedures allowed us to find that such inconsistency occurs when the prepared Sensitive Scalp Relaxer (also known as No-Lye, Guanidine Hydroxide, etc) is not promptly applied.

In order to explain the unusual effect, we devised an experiment that tested several consecutive sections of the same hair fiber with the same relaxer. Only the first section was exposed to the fresh relaxer while the next fragment of hair was subjected to the same relaxer formula, which had been sitting on the bench for a selected amount of time. This procedure allowed for us to control a delay time between mixing and the moment of application.


The graph shows that the reactivity of relaxers, indicated by the final extension of hair, strongly increases as time passes between the mixing process and the actual application of relaxer.

The most likely hypothesis correlates this phenomenon with the basic reaction that occurs in the relaxer after the mixing of cream and activator. Sensitive Scalp Relaxers are Guanidine Hydroxide relaxers that aren't ready-to-use formulas: they require the stylist to mix two components: the cream and the activator. The cream contains Calcium Hydroxide, which reacts with the activator's Guanidine Carbonate and produces the Guanidine Hydroxide that reacts with the hair and provides the straightening effect. The fact that the relaxer is much more active when its application is delayed after the mixing of its components, could indicate that the Guanidine Hydroxide starts to deteriorate to other components that cause the uncontrollable damage.

Based on this finding, we now recommend stylists to:

  1. Apply Sensitive Scalp Relaxers immediately after mixing.

  2. Discard any leftover Sensitive Scalp Relaxer and to not re-use any leftovers on other clients.

Following these two steps should help in the continuous effort of minimizing hair damage.

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Hello. I have a question about no lye relaxers. Why should stylist use no lye relaxers when we are aware that they can cause damage by robbing the hair of moisture and leaving calcium build up on the hair. The Affirm sensitive scalp relaxers still leave a very dry, brittle feeling on the hair. Everyone knows you are supposed to use the relaxer from the moment it is mixed, and never use leftover no lye relaxer after it has been mixed. They all have the same instructions written on the box. I follow the same instructions and still have problems with the no lye relaxer. It seems to be extremely drying. It breaks off the hair over a long period of time. How could you say it is a safer way to relax the hair?

Hi Sophia,

This finding isn't a justification of Sensitive Scalp Relaxers over Lye Relaxers. It is a scientific finding that corroborates the method of applying the No-Lye Relaxer instantly after mixing.

Stylists should use Sensitive Scalp Relaxers when presented with a client who has a sensitive scalp and desires to have their hair straightened. If your client doesn't suffer from a sensitive scalp, No-Base Sodium Hydroxide Relaxers are ok for them.

As for the ill effects that you mentioned, there are steps that you can take to minimize and/or eliminate them. One of the reasons why we developed the KeraCare DeMineralizing Wipes was for the very purpose of removing calcium buildup after a No-Lye Relaxer application. If you like, we can send you some samples to try.

Dr. Syed

Yes. I would love to try some samples of the demineralizing wipes, also I have been reading other blogs that mention using decalcifying shampoos after a no lye relaxer service, and can a shampoo actually remove calcium build up? Do you think it is good advice to tell clients that use no lye relaxers to keep their hair extremely, extremely moisturized to prevent dryness from a no lye relaxer? What are some other steps you suggest that prevent dry, brittle hair and calcium build up on the hair from no lye relaxers? I know I always use a protective crème on the hair that does not need to be relaxed, but is there anything else that should be done aside from using the wipes.

Hello Dr. Syed,
I love your Keracare products and use them exclusively. I now only use your sensitive scalp fiberguard relaxer. According to the Avlon website, it preserves 40% of the hair's strength in comparison to the the regular fiberguard that preserves 25%. I don't have a sensitive scalp, but I want to use the safest relaxer that will cause the least amount of damage. The relaxer is used directly after it is mixed, however I listened to your interview and read your finding regarding lye vs. no-lye, and I am uncertain which is the safest relaxer to use. Can you tell me which relaxer you have that causes the least amount of damage to hair?

Hi Dr. Syed,
Since I am also using only AFFIRM relaxers (especially the Moisture Plus and the Dry and Itchy scalp) I am looking forward to your answer on the questions asked by Annie

Dear Dr. Ali Syed,

I have hair that has been extremely sensitive to all non-lye hair relxers- with breakage, brittle ends, and extremely dry fly-away hair resulting.

Avlon Moisture Plus Relaxer, Sensitiver Scalp Formula was recommended to me. Can you please tell me the proper way of applying the different components that make up the entire Avlon application, so that I may avoid all the above problems.

Thank you,

I would recommend Avlon's FiberGuard Relaxer System for you. It is a multi-step system.

Step 1 is the application of Preservo Pre-Relaxer treatment. It is a leave-in product.

Step 2 is the application of Sensitive Scalp Relaxer. Once the hair is straight, rinse, and apply Sustenance Conditioner (Step 3) for 5 minutes.

Rinse, and apply Normalizing Shampoo for two sudsings.

Rinse and apply the KeraCare Thermal Protector for blow dry and flat ironing.

Dr Syed

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