Is There a Way to Remove a Relaxer From My Hair?

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If your hair is currently relaxed and you want to return it to its natural texture, you might wonder if there's a quick and painless way to remove the relaxer. In fact, there's only one surefire way to remove a relaxer from hair and it has nothing to do with any chemicals or hair products.

Woman with relaxed hair.
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Several stories commonly revolve around relaxer removal. Some people swear by washing detergent, vinegar or a milk and egg concoction. These are all myths and none of these solutions or mixtures will remove a relaxer from hair. A relaxer is a chemical process that contains sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide. These chemicals permanently break down the hair's bonds.

Washing detergent is not recommended to remove relaxer.
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Relaxers are commonly referred to as perms; some women use these terms interchangeably. The reason is that relaxers are permanent. A relaxer straightens hair permanently and therefore cannot be removed. However, relaxers only affect the hair to which they are applied. As hair grows, the new growth will be its natural texture, so you can gradually grow a relaxer out.

Woman with a perm.
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While there's no method that will strip a relaxer from hair, you can cut your relaxed hair off to remove it. Cutting is the only surefire way to remove relaxed hair.

Some women feel confident enough to cut all of their straightened hair off and leave only an inch or so of new growth. This is commonly referred to as "the big chop" in natural hair forums. The amount of new growth depends on how long it's been since hair was last relaxed. Because hair grows an average of a half inch per month, if it's been two months since your last relaxer, you'll have about one inch of new growth.

If you don't want to cut all of your relaxed hair away at once, you can trim it away over time. It will take much longer, and you'll have to deal with your relaxed hair in addition to your natural texture, which can be difficult. In addition, the line where the relaxed strands meets the new growth is particularly fragile and may break. If you choose to go this route of growing out your relaxer, you'll have to be extra careful with how you style and care for your hair. This includes cutting back on heat styling and using gentle curling methods such as wet sets.

Woman with scissors to cut hair.
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