Debunking the myth about “kiddie” relaxers: They are not less damaging than relaxers marketed to adults
SUN Spotlight On: Hair Du Jour
Owner: Anne Turner
Location: 1989 North 63rd Street
Philadelphia PA 19151
Appts: Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Specialties: Master Stylist, Waxing Specialist and Make-up Artist.
Customized Hair Styling and Coloring, Hair Weaving Services
By Leah Fletcher
It is a fact that many African American women use chemical products to permanently relax their and their children's hair. And when it involves the latter, there are numerous brands of children's hair relaxers on the market to help do the job. These "kiddie" relaxers come with a promise that they are milder to use on a young girl's hair and because of this declaration many parents are using these products.
Are kiddie relaxers less damaging than products marketed to adults? Regardless of manufacturers' promises and claims, many experts, like stylist Roxanne Madison-Law, still maintain that chemical relaxers might not only damage children's hair, but all hair regardless of age.
Madison-Law, a hair stylist with Hair Du Jour Salon, notes that chemical relaxers break down the interior structure of the hair stands and deplete its strands and moisture resulting in weakened strands and breakage. "Knowing how to properly care for highly textured hair goes a long way toward keeping it healthy and growing," said the 22-year industry veteran.
According to Madison-Law the chemicals in the relaxer straighten tightly curled hair. Relaxing the hair follicles makes the hair more manageable, and it has been a practice among black women for many years. She continued, that African American hair has a texture that is unique. The hair is extremely curly—or kinky—and should be treated with patience and delicate care.
Chemical straightening treatments, improper combing, tight styling and lack of sufficient moisture may cause breakage of African American children's hair, especially at the edges. Additionally, Madison-Law noted that hair relaxers require maintenance and reapplication every six to eight weeks, and if applied inappropriately, the hair and scalp can burn and become damaged.
"Before the introduction of relaxers, black women straightened their hair and their young daughter's hair by using a hot comb," explained Madison-Law. She observed that many still choose to straighten their daughter's hair by using a hot comb or electric straightening comb or even a flat iron because they believe the chemicals in the permanent relaxers are far too harsh for their children's hair.
Madison-Law is death on the use of chemicals to straighten children's hair. She has witnessed a trend where parents are beginning to perm and relax their children's hair as young as age four. She advises parents to postpone the decision to apply kiddie relaxers or perms and to revisit the decision after a young girl transitions into womanhood, allowing her to physically mature.
Taking care of your child's hair to keep it healthy and strong is necessary, according to Madison-Law, but should also be motivated by healthy hair management options.
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