Sunday, August 19, 2007

Analyizing the 'Hair Relaxer' (part 1)

What does " Hair Relaxer" actually do?
Before answering the question. We need to take a good look at the structure of our hair and skin.

  1. Cuticle: Is the outer layer of the hair shaft. The cuticle is made up of layers of scales that interlock with the inner root sheath, to firmly latch it to the hair follicle. Healthy cuticle scales, will lie down smoothly and reflect the light. This is what gives the hair a lovely shine.
  2. Cortex: Is the bulk of the hair shaft. The cortex is made up of combined (or locked) groups of cells. Each group of cells contain particles of nutrients that gives the hair Strength and Elasticity.
  3. Medulla: The center or core of the hair shaft. Scientists are still unsure of its function but it is known that some people with fine hair, like nappy hair, don't have it.


Other areas to take note of are:
  • Melanin: Is contained in the cortex. It gives your hair an skin its color. The more melanin you have, the darker the tone.
  • Hair Follicle: Is at the base of the hair shaft. At the hair follicle, dead cells are compacted together and added to the base of the chain of grouped dead cells that make up the hair shaft and hair follicle.

  • Papilla: Is made mainly of connective tissue and capillary loop.
  • Hair Matrix: Is located around the papilla. The hair matrix is the actual location where there is cell division between the new arrived dead cells.

  • Sebaceous Glands: Are glands that produce Sebaceous oil, or your body's natural oil. Your body uses the Sebaceous oil to naturally condition your hair and skin.

So what is " Hair Relaxer"?

Relaxer is a form of creme, which is used to 'reform' the texture of a type of hair. It is usually used on tightly curly or kinky type hair. There are 2 types of chemical hair straighteners: Lye Hair Relaxer and "No-Lye" Relaxer

"No-Lye" relaxers contain Calcium Hydroxide, which is a colorless crystal (or power) chemical compound. The Calcium Hydroxide is a medium alkaline base substance that 'violently' reacts with acids and attacks metals in Water.

[Interestingly, the human body is made up of about 65% water. It also contains some form of metal substances and acids...]

"Lye" relaxers are a high alkaline base substance. That reacts more violently than 'no lye' relaxers.

I found this description of LYE quite interesting. Thought you might like to read about it:

" Many household products contain lye, the chemical sodium hydroxide. Lye is a caustic, alkaline chemical, which means it dissolves sticky substances like fat, and has a high degree of reactivity with other materials. Lye, in a flake, granular, or liquid form, is very dangerous and can cause damage to surfaces and people... Lye is created out of a chemical reaction between soda, known as sodium carbonate, and calcium hydroxide, or lime. In raw form, it's made into solid flakes, chips, or grains.

Chemical suppliers provide lye to manufacturers to make a wide variety of products, such as fabric, paper, personal soap, laundry detergent, pool-cleaning supplies, metal polishers, and drain de-cloggers.

Caustic lye products pose other dangers to surfaces. They can dissolve substances to your advantage, like hair clogs in a shower drain, as well as to your detriment, such as the adjacent shower curtain. In fact, lye can damage and corrode paint, metal, cloth, plastic, and especially skin. Lye can be so reactive that, in its solid form, it should be kept away from metals, such as aluminum, and the open air. It's usually non-combustible when dry, but could ignite when mixed with water and cause a fire."

[Taken from "What is Lye?"]

Interestingly enough. The 'No-Lye' active ingredient Calcium Hydroxide, is also used in drain de-cloggers, as well as hair removal cremes!

To see just how violent these substances react. Get a secure 'see-through' tube and bowl, and mimic a clogged drain. Use the drain de-clogging substance, and watch. Not only does the product unblock the clog... but it disintegrates the substance enough for the hair (or clog) to loosen up enough to continue moving through the drain pipe.

Hair remover cremes, aren't as concentrated enough to "disintegrate" your hair... but... it is concentrated enough to make your hair actually FALL OUT.

I find that kind of ironic, how we, black women, are always determined to find a way to make our hair grow longer, yet we put things in our hair that were originally designed to do the complete opposite.

I am sure that if the manufacturers actually renamed their "hair straightening" products as the "Hair Fall Out Formula That Has Been Less Concentrated", the millions upon millions of black people probably wouldn't be so eager to "fix" their "kink" problem.

"Its all about the marketing, baby."
Thats how drugs even more harmful than cocaine get sold in the medical industry!!!!!

{end part 1}