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No Lye - Why You Should Think Twice About Relaxing Your Hair

When I saw a soda can disintegrate into a container of hair relaxer while watching Chris Rock's 2009 documentary, Good Hair - I knew my days of getting a perm were over.

The thought of that can dissolving sickened me.

Before seeing the documentary, I didn't know much about the ingredients in relaxers. I just knew that every Sunday my mom would straighten my hair with a hot comb and I hated it. So, when I got my first perm in middle school I was ecstatic, it meant no more singed kitchen and no more burnt. Right?

Wrong!

As it turned out, relaxers weren't the golden ticket I anticipated.

The Truth About The Lye

By now, we should all know the truth about the chemicals in perms. Lye and no-lye relaxers contain sodium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate. These are chemicals that burn the scalp and damage hair follicles. Even Gabrielle Union recently admitted in her new book that she attempted to get "good" hair by using relaxers and it caused her to , developed lesions on her scalp.

When I eventually went natural in 2011, I didn't plan on ever looking back. It was a whole new world.

So, when I recently came across a debate online about naturals who relax their edges, I didn't know what to think.

Isn't the point of being natural is to be chemical-free? This is where I say that what a woman does with her hair is her own business. How you choose to exhibit your crown is a personal choice.

But, the question is - do relaxed edges mean you're not natural?

Technically? Yes.

Although, that depends on your definition of "natural." It also depends on your reasons for going natural in the first place. For me, it was about saying "goodbye" to harsh toxic chemicals. For this reason alone, I would never relax my edges. Especially when there are so many healthier alternatives. Edge control products, pomades, gels, and oils can do the trick without causing any damage.

If you have a lay-resistant hair texture, you can apply water and the product of your choice. Wrap a scarf around your edges at night and you'll wake up with your baby hairs in complete submission. Try the Black Vanilla Edge Control Smoother by Carol's Daughter ($8) or Creme of Nature's Argan Oil Perfect Edges ($5).

Besides a little hair routine change-up, some self-acceptance can lay an edge or two as well. It can at least allow you to be happy with what you're working with. The natural hair community is hyper-supportive and there are tons of resources available online to help you find your way. How-to videos, product reviews, and tips and tricks are at your disposal day or night.

So if you feel compelled to chemically straighten your edges - do you, queen!!! Just know that in the process of getting processed, you're damaging your hair and scalp. But no matter what you do, try to embrace your natural hair. We all have different hair journeys, and different is beautiful.

What do you think about naturals with relaxed edges? Share your edge-laying tips!


SP Jackson, is a freelance writer, pop-culture junkie, and avid reader. She's written for Buzzfeed, Travelocity, ebay, and Grubhub with a concentration on beauty, travel, lifestyle and pop culture. SP lives in Los Angeles with her fiancee and cat, Bixby.

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