How Do You Minimize Scalp Irritation From a Hair Relaxer?

by Jessica Blue ; Updated July 18, 2017

If you're planning to have your hair chemically relaxed, you might be concerned about scalp irritation. If you use relaxers on a regular basis, you should be worried about scalp damage, even hair loss. The chemicals in relaxers and perms can wreak havoc on your tender scalp and can even cause hair to fall out as a result of overexposure. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself from harsh relaxers. By taking care before and after treatments, you can avoid irritation and other scalp dangers.

Visit your stylist for a consultation a couple of weeks before your treatment if you don't see her regularly. Ask for a strand test to determine the best type of chemical to use on your hair. Talk to your stylist about the products you use and how you style your hair; specifically discuss scalp health.

Stop styling with heat and do not use harsh shampoos during the week before your treatment. Avoid washing your hair more than once or twice that week. Follow any other recommendations your stylist gives you.

Prepare a hair mask by warming the shea butter until soft, then mixing in the coconut and olive oils. Add fragrance if desired and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy. Refrigerate five minutes to set.

Apply the shea butter mixture generously to your scalp a few days before your treatment. Massage it into your roots and leave it in for 30 minutes. Wash out gently.

Stop scratching your head and do not brush or comb your hair excessively for two days before your treatment. These can all create tiny lacerations in your scalp, which are the main cause of irritation.


  • Wait six weeks between relaxing treatments to let your scalp fully heal.

    Wait several weeks between chemical treatments, including bleaching and dyeing.

    Most relaxers use sodium hydroxide or lye to straighten hair. No-lye relaxers use guanidine hydroxide, which is less damaging but still very caustic.

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About the Author

An award-winning blogger, Jessica Blue has been promoting sustainability, natural health and a do-it-yourself attitude since graduating University of California, Berkeley in 2000. Her work, seen in a wide variety of publications, advocates an environmentally-responsible and healthy lifestyle.