The Calcium Hydroxide (or sodium hydroxide, if your using lye) penetrates the cuticle layer of your hair shaft, and violently attacks and strips away your cortex (Which we explained earlier as being the hair shaft's source of nutrients, strength and elasticity). Unlike, the cuticle, the cortex happens to be very easy to perish.
From the lack of strength... the hair shaft falls (lacking the vitality to hold up curls), making your hair... straight(ish). Hence the term "relaxing the hair".
To add to stripping the cortex, the active chemicals not only penetrate the the hair shaft, they also penetrate your scalp! (No matter how careful you try to be, the hair relaxer STILL touches and penetrates into your scalp.)
In your scalp, the chemical does 3 major things:
- The chemical violently react to the substances in the body and attacks the oil glands, making them dormant.
- The chemical strips your outer epidermis layer (aka your skin on your scalp) taking away your natural protective layer, leaving your skin unprotected.
- The chemical also absorbs into your scalp, and is stored some where else in your body for a side effect to develop later, after a long term usage. (Like balding, skin disease, etc.)
Without natural oils, and stripped skin. Your hair and scalp are left to dependent on OTHER products to fix what problem was created.
As mentioned in an earlier article, kinky hair is actually very WEAK, BRITTLE, as well as DRY. So, in a sense, that would make 'relaxed hair' the MOST WEAKEST, DRIEST and VULNERABLE type of hair.
With no form of natural protection, the 'Relaxee' is forced to become a slave to a 'Cycle of Chemicals'.
What is this 'cycle of chemicals'?
A "Cycle Of Chemicals" is a constant routine of chemical usage and dependency to fix a problem that a previous chemical (or product) had initially created. Every single product that contains chemicals, this includes preservatives (etc), has ingredients that cause some form of damage.
"Fragrance" is added to every chemical mix product to cover up the horrible smell the formula originally had in the laboratory. The 'side effect', however, is that it dries out your hair and scalp. Every new product used to fix the problem of dry hair and scalp, usually contains the same (or similar) fragrance chemical which will essentially add to further damage or dependency to another temporary fix. With constant forms of damage, trimming off the hair shaft is needed to stop the chain of breakage, from reaching the rest of the hair.
- After a while you develop hair breakage (from using hair relaxer, or other harsh methods of treatment)
- You use a product, to fix the problem.
- That product in turn has its own damaging side effect. So you use another product to fix that problem.
- Which leads to damage, or a side effect in another area. So you use another product to fix that problem. Etc, etc, etc.
Over and over again, we use one product to fix one problem, then another one to fix another problem. No wonder the cosmetic industry makes billions of dollars a year. They create products to fix problems that they themselves have originally created.
As this cycle of dependency continues, there is yet another problem that arises...
Water???... you ask.
Here is yet another irony. Kinky hair is the driest type of hair there is. It needs moisture... yet for most black people (mainly black women), they end up usually fearing the idea of water touching their heads (unless planned, of course)... why?
"Wonderful, fantastic water!!!
It can help sustain life, as well as be a means of destruction. It can be molded into a new shape, as well as mold a new shape out of a solid object. And... Whatever is NOT naturally bound to you will be simply stripped away in mere minutes!"
Chemicals aren't bound to us. They don't really absorb... well not always in a good way, anyway. A lot of chemicals just sit on top of your skin or hair shaft... waiting to be washed away.
Water not only attacks from the outside of our bodies, but from the inside as well. Our bodies sweat, and practically push the chemicals away from us... along with other toxins that were inside of us.
Without protection, both chemically and naturally, the skin and hair become... once again... vulnerable to the elements. Which leads to...
Frizzy hair, 'unmanageable' hair, dry, flaky skin, itchy scalp, matted hair, and... just another addition to the chain of hair breakage.
[The image above is of a pair of antique "Sheep Cards". Slaves often used Sheep Cards to try to straighten their hair, so that they would look like the Europeans. The result was actually, their scalp being slashed, as well as their hair being ripped out, which lead to infections in the scalp, due to the lack of hygiene. But they kept using it, regardless of the pain and damage, for centuries because of their desperation to have the so-called "good hair".]
There was a time (well, the last 400 years anyway) when Black people felt that they needed to 'fit in' with the Europeans. With out a good source of knowledge (and due to our demanding desire to look like our slave owners) we used very extreme methods to satisfy our own personal obsessions (that actually was the REASON for hair breakage, balding, and infections. Like using the "Iron Toothed Sheep Cards", Car Oil, etc).
I am sure that if C.J. Walker (and other famous black people for the black hair industry) knew that the reason they were rapidly balding, was because of the extreme methods that they used to try to straighten their heads, rather than just genetics. I am sure they wouldn't have continued searching for things to fix the problem of balding. But rather, they might of just STOPPED what was causing the problem in the first place and let their bodies heal themselves.
In our time, however, WE have absolutely no reason not to ask questions about what we are putting in to or on our bodies. Using resources like the library, asking questions to professionals, the internet and other forms of media, gives us the opportunity that our imprisoned (both physically and mentally) ancestors didn't have.
This isn't me trying to force you to go nappy. But rather me trying to show you the 'oxymoron' with using black hair care products.
Some good starter resources are:
*** You will notice, however, that a lot of resources state the obvious problems, yet... they still promote their own "so called" glorious products, which has their own side effects. (GREED is such a powerful temptation...)