Top 10 Beauty Must-Haves: 6. Thermal Hair Relaxer

May 20, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Posted in Beauty Must-Haves, Hair | 2 Comments
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My natural hair

Today’s post is for the curly-haired girls. For me, my kinky curls are a challenge to style and I’ve often wished for silky straight strands. I started relaxing my hair as a kid (not too long after the photo on the left when I begged my mom to let my normally braided hair loose) using a traditional lye-type product with so-so results. It never did get fully straight and would still frizz like crazy.

A few years ago I discovered the thermal hair relaxer (also called Japanese straightener). It is amazing for both hair like mine (part African-American) and those with waves that want a permanently flat-ironed look.

Relaxed and flat-ironed

Gone are the frizzy curls! At last, my treated hair is straight and stays that way (even in rainy Seattle). I only wish I had done it sooner. Especially since only virgin hair can be thermally relaxed, which means the journey is a several year process for longer locks (the top half of my length is thermally relaxed; lower half is traditionally relaxed). I still have to blow-dry and flat-iron after shampooing for a smooth look, but the time is minimal.

A thermal relaxer is multiple steps: cream is applied to straighten the hair and rinsed out; next, hair is flat-ironed, sealed, and rinsed again. Lastly, hair is styled. The process is long (4 hours for me to relax just the new growth, which is admittedly resistent) and expensive (about $75-$100 per hour). Though, I relax my hair only 1-2X per year, so over time the cost is comparable to getting a traditional relaxer every 2-3 months.

If you live in Seattle, I recommend Marquetta Riley at Salon Divas in downtown. She is ranked one the of the best local stylists and thermally relaxes her own hair.

Top section is thermally relaxed (notice the difference in frizz from humidity between top and bottom)


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  1. […] the battle! A regular schedule of permanent hair dye is necessary, but because my hair is also chemically relaxed I don’t want to color too often (very damaging). So, I use touch up color to instantly […]

  2. […] HUMID. I had planned to wear my hair pulled back during the trip to avoid frizzy roots and ends (sections of my hair not thermally relaxed) from exposure to the high […]

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