Choosing between Lye and No Lye Relaxers

I am nowhere near transitioning to natural, although this is something I would like to do once I achieve my length goal. So until then, the relaxers will remain in my hair regimen

From my last relaxer update, I mentioned how disappointed I was in the Mizani Relaxer. It could be that the relaxer had gone "stale" as I had bought it a couple of months ago. However, in addition to this, the breakage I have been experiencing is making me to question every part of my hair regimen, including the relaxer that I use. 

So I am considering switching relaxers, and OMG there are so many relaxers in the market it is nothing short of overwhelming. So I took a step back, and started doing research on different brands and also types of relaxers, just to make sure that I switch relaxers with all the information that I need to make the decision.

I have been using Mizani Butter Blend Lye Relaxer (Normal Strength) since I started this hair journey. Although I tried using ORS relaxer on the very first relaxer day of my healthy hair journey, and it completely underprocessed my hair. In hindsight, perhaps I did not apply it properly or I rinsed it out too soon, it was in the early days of my HHJ, so I need to give it a benefit of doubt.

Before I started my HHJ, I used Dark 'n Lovely, and it worked pretty well, and my hair was always nice and silky after relaxing. Although I would not want straight hair like that again...

So this is what I have found out about no lye and lye relaxers:

Lye Relaxers

The main, active ingredient in a lye-based relaxer is sodium hydroxide. The pH level is higher in a lye relaxer than a no-lye relaxer. 

Lye relaxers generally do not need to be mixed with an activator like no-lye relaxers. 

No-Lye Relaxers

The main, active ingredient in a no-lye based relaxer is calcium hydroxide or guanidine hydroxide. The pH level is lower in a no-lye relaxer than in a lye relaxer. 

No-lye relaxers come with an activator (packed separately), that is mixed into the relaxer creme. Therefore the relaxer creme can be weakened by mixing less of the activator if you wish. The relaxer creme will not have any straightening effect if you use it without mixing it with the activator.

And that my friends, is the difference between the two relaxers - the ingredients and their pH levels! However, as a result of the different ingredients, these two relaxers may have very different effects on your hair as follows:

After reading  a bit more on lye vs. no lye relaxers, I have come to the conclusion that maybe it is worth trying whether a no-lye relaxer will work out better for me:
1.) It will work better for my scalp which does tend to burn easily (remember that one relaxer day when I had scalp burns?)
2.) It will work slower than lye relaxer, giving me more time to apply the relaxer (I am still an amateur at self-relaxing)
3.) The run-off from the relaxer while rinsing my hair will not be as strong as a lye relaxer. So there is less chance of my ends getting 'relaxed' as I rinse it out.
4.) The chances of the relaxer becoming obsolete/expired before I use it are low, because the relaxer must be mixed with the activator for it to become active. Also I won't be stuck with a tub of relaxer after one use like I would with a lye relaxer.

The only thing I am worried about is the dryness that can be caused by no-lye relaxers. Apparently lithium-based no-lye relaxers are gentler, and I will also be on the lookout for relaxers which claim to have "moisturizers". I noticed that Dark 'n Lovely Relaxer has Shea Butter in it, so I will look into it more.

I have not yet settled on which relaxer to try, but it will probably be a choice between Dark 'n Lovely, Creme of Nature and ORS Olive Oil no-lye relaxers.

Which relaxer do you use if you are/have ever been relaxed? 


  1. Great post. I too decided to go back to using a no-lye relaxer for my last touch up but it actually made my hair straighter than the lye relaxer and I noticed the calcium build up left on my hair which made it feel extremley weighed down and dry. I now don't have a clue whether to stick with the no-lye and see how I get on or to just go back to a lye relaxer.

    1. Thanks Deonne! That's strange that it came out straighter but definitely it can cause dryness and you need to chelate or clarify immediately after washing it off. I would say if it doesn't work for you then go back to what worked better :-)


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