How Long Does Hair Relaxer Last? (Ultimate Guide For Beginner)

If you have curly hair, chances are you need to use a hair relaxer to straighten it. But do you know “how long does hair relaxer last”? Let’s check out the article below!

Hair relaxers are a chemical substance, usually in the form of cream or lotion. When applied to curly hair, it loosens the tight curls and makes the hair appear straighter and more malleable. 

Used at both professional salons and home, hair relaxers are an indispensable part of anyone’s beauty products, as it enables users to style their hair in various ways. 

However, hair relaxers are not permanent. After a while, their effects start to wear off.

So, how long does hair relaxer last? Why can it smoothen out the keratin? And what else should you know when using this particular item? The answers lie right below!

How Long Does Hair Relaxer Last?

Hair relaxers help straighten even the thickest curls
Hair relaxers help straighten even the thickest curls

On average, hair relaxers last anywhere from 5-6 weeks to 11-12 weeks. The exact number would depend on multiple factors, including the quality of hair relaxers, hair growth rate, texture, and whether the aftercare steps are done properly.

In some extreme cases, you can expect your hair to be straight for at least 4 months. 

Shampoos Hub x
Shampoos Hub

However, once the effect fades away, you need to take extra care of the newly growing hair. This is because it will come out naturally, the way your hair has always been.

What Do Relaxers Do To Hair?

Hair relaxers contain powerful active agents, which break down the hydrogen and disulfide bonds that form curls. By weakening their structure, hair relaxers allow the hair to become smoother, straighter, and easier to manage.

If used correctly, hair relaxers can keep the hair “relaxed” for roughly a few months, sparing users the burden of having to use hot irons daily. 

Benefits Of Using Hair Relaxers 

If you intend on using hair relaxers but do not know yet about their advantages, below are some of the most noticeable benefits.

  • Hair relaxers help straighten your wavy hair. However coarse or coily your curls might be, there will always be a hair relaxer strong enough to smoothen out. No more worries about not being able to comb through your frizzy hair!
  • Hair relaxers enable you to style your hair creatively and nonrestrictive. Sometimes, having untamed hair prevents you from tying them into a bun, or doing a fancy French braid. Hair relaxers solve this problem by softening the thick textures and making them more subject to whatever tricks you wish to lay upon your head.
  • Hair relaxers create a layer of weather repellence. If you use a hair iron, chances are your hair will go back to its original form when coming in contact with moisture or the winds. On the other hand, the chemical available in hair relaxers can fight off external factors easily.

What To Look For In A Hair Relaxer?

Scalp sensitivity

Hair relaxers are powerful enough to break your hair structure, and they certainly can cause damage to your scalp if done poorly. If you have a thick scalp and are not prone to irritations, feel free to pick a standardized hair relaxer. 

But for those with extremely dry scalp or are suffering from skin disorders, it is better to go for a gentler, more forgiving option. You can even consider using hair relaxers designed and formulated specifically for delicate scalps.

Hair characteristics

Understand your hair before using a relaxer
Understand your hair before using a relaxer

Determining your hair texture and how much hair needs straightening allows you to pick out a formula that delivers decent performance. 

For example, people with lots of thick and coarse hair are advised to take up strong hair relaxers, as they can get the job done without problems. Vice versa, more benign formulas are more suited for anyone with little hair, lighter and softer curls.


Lye is an alkaline substance mostly present in hair relaxers to increase their effectiveness. Products using lye are high in sodium hydroxide, which is more potent and has a finer finish. 

But they are more challenging to apply to the hair properly, as one drop touching the scalp may cause burns and stinging pain. Therefore, lye relaxers are mostly reserved for professional use.

On the other hand, there are products rich in calcium hydroxide and do not contain lye. They are more pleasant and less irritated upon contact, making it a beginner-friendly choice.

But be aware that no-lye hair relaxers can result in dryness and calcium accumulation on the hair shaft, especially if you misplace them.

Another type of hair relaxer you should consider is ammonium thioglycolate. Similar to no-lye relaxers, this substance is relatively mild and is best used for wavy hair. You cannot expect ammonium thioglycolate to smoothen coily, thick hair, but it certainly helps with fine hair.

How To Use A Hair Relaxer?

Step 1: Do not wash or scratch your head for at least 5-7 days if you decide to use a hair relaxer. Any physical pressure on your hair may irritate the scalp, making it more prone to itchiness and painful tingles when the hair relaxer kicks in.

Step 2: Take out a dime-size amount of your chosen hair relaxer and apply it on both your hair strands and the body skin. Wait for a while to see if there is any negative reaction.

Step 3: Once you have spotted no concerning impact, start by wearing a protective cape and gloves. These precautions are essential to make sure your other body parts and clothes do not end up getting harmed by the strong chemicals.

Step 4: Use a base cream to protect your scalp and hair. It can either be petroleum jelly or any other protective lotion that prevents the hair relaxer from directly touching the curls. 

You might want to use a comb to help spread the cream evenly on your hair. Do not forget about the edges, hairlines, and skin right behind your ears.

Apply hair relaxer gently from top to bottom
Apply hair relaxer gently from top to bottom

Step 5: Split your hair into smaller chunks. Use several hair clips to secure each chunk in different directions so that they do not overlap each other. Remember, your hair clips need to be plastic since metal ones can erode when exposed to hair relaxers.

Step 6: Stir the relaxer in a plastic bowl multiple times until it becomes a silky paste. Load it on your brush or comb, then carefully apply the relaxer on your hair in tiny sections, one by one. 

You may work your way down from the top, but try to keep this combination away from the scalp. Repeat this process until all of your hair is soaked with cream.

Step 7: Use the back of your comb to glide across the recently relaxed hair. This serves as an additional step to ensure your hair is already straightened.

Step 8: Check out the instructions on the package and see how much rest time is required from the manufacturers. Each product has a different rest time depending on how strong the formula is, so you need to strictly comply with the manual. 

For those who want to have “bone straight” hair, consider leaving it on for a few more minutes than recommended. But most people prefer having slightly wavy hair when the curls bounce off, which means you need to wear off the hair relaxer as guided.

Step 9: Rinse your hair under running water for at least 5 minutes. After you feel like the residue starts to be washed away, switch to warm water and rinse it all over.

It is crucial that you get as much hair relaxer out of your hair as possible since it can destroy the natural hair structure and suppress keratin growth. Keep washing until your hair does not appear overly glossy and heavy.

Step 10: Use a deep conditioner to moisturize the hair before washing it with your daily shampoo. This will neutralize the pH on your scalp and prep it for further styling. Ta-da, now your hair is done!

Rinse your hair properly after the relaxing process is over
Rinse your hair properly after the relaxing process is over

Note: If you are doing a touch-up, there is no need to apply the entire hair length. Pay attention to the new hair growth and relax them only.

See also:

How to keep relaxed hair healthy and long-lasting?

After getting your hair relaxed, you need to follow these simple tips to ensure they stay in optimal conditions.

  • Weekly wash-up: Washing your hair every week allows you to get rid of dirt and calcium build-up (if there is any). Use a conditioner afterward to moisturize the hair, which helps keep the relaxer going for a longer time. 
  • Deep treatments: Products such as hot oils or hair masks are capable of hydrating your hair, keeping them flowy and light while nourishing the cortex layers from deep inside. They also help the scalp become less barren and soften drier hair fibers.
  • No heat styling: High temperatures can make your hair brittle and breakable, given how they have already been dried up by chemicals inside a hair relaxer.
  • Frequent end-trimming: The longer your hair grows, the more likely it is to have split ends. Cutting these boosts the hair growth rate and detangle any mess.
  • Touch-ups: Since hair relaxers are only temporary, a regular re-application is necessary. Consult with your hair stylist over the best time to start processing your hair again. Usually, a touch-up is required after up to 8 weeks. But if your hair grows too fast or you have a sweating habit, you may need to have one sooner.
  • Healthy lifestyles: How you navigate your daily activities greatly affects your hair conditions. Be mindful about your water consumption, diets, and physical exercises. Take biotin supplements for your body to produce more keratin, the essential protein that strengthens your hair.


Is it safe to relax hair at home?

Most hair experts advise against relaxing hair at home, especially when the customers have no hands-on experience before. If done incorrectly, not only does it cause itchiness and skin inflammations, but it also weakens the hair structure. 

But if the circumstances do not allow professional help, anyone attempting to use hair relaxers at home must choose the most tender product they can get, so that any chance of irritations and accidents are minimized.

What are the benefits of going to a professional?

Some people dislike the idea of having to rely on a professional for hair relaxing. Admittedly, it can be pretty expensive. But rest assured that there are certain benefits of letting an expert do their job.

First of all, a professional is more knowledgeable concerning what works for your hair and what does not. Hair experts are also capable of doing a “strand test”, allowing them to determine how strong and curly your hair is. 

This way, they can work out whatever hair product is required specifically for you.

Secondly, hair professionals can detect what your hair lacks. Sometimes, during the chemical treatments, you end up having nutrients stripped off hair strands. Visiting a salon means you have a better chance of having them compensated. 

Last but not least, asking a professional to relax your hair reduces the risks of damage. Hair relaxers can be extremely potent, causing irritations or burning on your scalp if done recklessly. 


Now that you have finished this article, hopefully, the question How long does hair relaxer last? no longer bother you. Make sure you learn about the pros and cons of this product before deciding to use one.

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Edna Feber

I’m Edna. I'm here to guide you about hair products and maintenance tips. You'll fine here product reviews regarding hair tools, hair color, hair care and more along with tips to keep your hair healthy!

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