Hair Question: Is there anyway to prevent burning when I relax my hair?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


"Is there anyway to prevent burning when I relax my hair? I switched to a lye relaxer (ORS) and it burned the heck out my scalp the last two times I used it. I based my entire scalp both times.

First I used regular, then I used extra strength lye relaxer. I assumed that extra strength would help it process faster therefore I would experience less irritation, but it burned twice as much.

I love the results better than no lye (I don't that gritty mineral build up feeling), so I don't want to go back, but the pain is really bad."


I'm sorry to hear that the relaxer burned you badly. The reason why you burned could be due to several factors:

1. You washed too close to your relaxer day - It's important to wash 4-5 days prior to a relaxer retouch. Washing too close to your relaxer date can cause burning and irritation during the relaxer.

2. You itched/scratched your scalp - Keep your fingers AWAY from your scalp. Scratching your scalp can lift skin cells off of your scalp leaving it exposed to the relaxer, therefore, causing a burning sensation.. It will seep into the cracked skin and burn you.

3. Lack of Detangling - Pulling through the hair while you are relaxing can cause irritation because the hair is being tugged from the scalp leaving your scalp more sensitive and prone to burns.

4. The oil you used was not thick enough for your sensitive scalp - Use a thicker oil like Hollywood Beauty Castor Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Avocado Oil etc. to base with. These oils will provide a light coating over the scalp to prevent burns and irritation yet still allowing the relaxer to penetrate and straighten the hair to your liking.

5. You used the teeth of the comb to smooth the new growth - Make sure you are using the BACK of a comb or your hands so that you are not disturbing the scalp. Using the teeth section of a comb to smooth may scratch the scalp allowing the relaxer to get in contact with fresh skin which then causes burning!

6. You did not pay attention to the time limit - Be on point with how long you leave the relaxer on to process for. Follow the directions on the relaxer jar.

7. You worked out or did some physical activity before your relaxer - Do not exercise for 2 days before you get a relaxer. The sweat in your scalp opens up your pores making it very susceptible to burning.

I highly recommend (for sensitive people like yourself) that you base your scalp the night before and the day of your relaxer, in sections. This will ensure that you do not get burned since you are highly protected. Don't forget to base the entire perimeter of your hairline, ears, behind your ears, nape etc.

Please keep in mind that the problem could also be because of your high sensitivity and this particular relaxer may not be the right "fit" for you. Using a relaxer specifically for sensitive scalp may be the best route to go i.e. Affirm FiberGuard Sensitive Scalp Creme Relaxer, Vitale Mo Body Sensitive Scalp Relaxer, Mizani sensitive scalp etc.

Overall, when getting a re-touch, just leave your hair alone! Do not touch the scalp, itch or scratch. Low manipulation is key.

Hope that helps,


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  1. Avocado oil saved my scalp! I use it as a pre-poo on my scalp overnight 3 days before my relaxer and I have noticed an incredible difference in the way my hair feels. My scalp feels so moisturized and healthy I couldn't believe it. No more scalp burns, scabs, or discomfort. I will ALWAYS do this before a relaxer. HTH!

  2. Great Advice...I would say it was also the type of relaxer she used...even though they say that no-lye is not good for the hair (which either one can be damaging if used incorrectly) the no-lye relaxer is overall more milder than the lye (as far as the burning is concerned and processing time) and maybe she needs to switch to a sensitive scalp relaxer...that will change the entire will almost fell like nothings there. Just personal experience. But anything that aggravates the scalp will cause it to burn no matter what you use.
    ~♥Miss Nic ♥~

  3. OK.

    Am I the only one who thought this was a funny question?

    "If it burns so bad, why not STOP getting a relaxer?"

    It just doesn't seem worth it. One time, I was getting a press n curl and the girl used too much heat and burned the front part of my hair right off!

    I don't even own a blowdryer now. It's just not worth it.

  4. great suggestions Sunshyne!

    I would also like to mention that if she wears braids, tight ponytails, or any hairstyle that may tighten/put stress on her scalp, she should stop wearing it for one or two weeks before her relaxer.

    Switching to a "loose" style such as wearing her hair down or pinning it up instead of using elastics...can prevent relaxer burn.

  5. Thank you ladies for your input!

    @ BlackMamba - Glad to hear that you are free of relaxer burns. That's great!

    @ Nic Harmon - I totally agree.

    @ Chrissy - LOL..True! Well that's up to her. Sorry to hear about your pressing experience. That's just careless on your stylists part. I would have raised hell up in that place. I understand where you are coming from though.

    @ SSSdawna - Thank you hun! You've made an excellent point. Low manipulation styles are key!

  6. Not sure of your total relaxer experience. But I have been relaxing for a LONG time now, and is yet to be able to use a lye relaxer. I have tried several and to no avail. I follow all of Sunshyne's steps and the steps on the box and everybodyelses steps that lye relaxer still burns the crap out of my scalp (it feels as though is burns everything else!)Anywho it always goes back to: everything just isn't for everybody...Hope you find the lye relaxer that works for you and when you do let us know...HHG! KC

  7. That great info. I have to say, I never burn. I exercise frequently and I wont at least 1 day b4 my relaxer. I dont scratch my scalp at least 4 days b4 my relaxer and I feel thats key. The funny thing is that I do rub with my fingertips and I do not burn. The best thing is to leave the scalp alone days b4 the relaxer. I do use no lye.

  8. Last time i relaxed, I washed 3 days before. I based with Summit Sensitive Scalp Base Creme the night before really heavy, and the day of. Not one burn!! I always always always burn, intensely and pretty fast, i was scratching a few days before the relaxer. The base cream even has a cooling feeling. Oh I use Lye

  9. When I was using lye relaxers, I would also base with Summit Sensitive Scalp Base Creme right before I relaxed and I also added EVOO to the relaxer to slow down the processing. It worked well. HTH