A History of Relaxers

History of the Relaxer

Relaxer, perm, creamy crack, and the white stuff. These are all names used to refer to Relaxers. The relaxer was concocted by Garret A. Morgan, a child of former slaves in 1877 in Paris Kentucky(i).  Contrary to much belief Madam CJ Walker did NOT invent relaxers or perms(ii). This is not to say that she didn’t play an integral role in the beauty and cosmetic industry, but this misconception that she invented the relaxer is untrue. Relaxers were designed as a topical cream used to make African-American hair more “manageable” (their words, not mine) by smoothing out the hair follicle in a way to force the naturally curly textured hair straight (iii). Yup that just about sums it all up.

This isn’t high school and I’m not a kid, the term paper flow isn’t happening on this site. So instead of me giving you a term paper description of Relaxers since inception, I’m going to do something a bit different. Relaxers have seen many decades, many years and styles. This chemical has been celebrated for years. Below you will see the timeline of the Relaxers highs and lows.

–1913 Garret A. Morgan founds G.A Morgan Hair Refining Company: The Company’s premier product was the hair relaxer product. This was the forefront and face of G.A Morgan Hair Refining Company. This product was based with alkaline chemicals and soap that contained lye.

–1970’s Lye Relaxers: Lye relaxer is officially produced into Relaxer mixture. Lye straightened the hair alright, did it so good it broke down the protein structure in the hair which resulted in thinning and early signs of alopecia.

–Late 1970’s-early 80′s Living in No-Lye Relaxers: Johnson Products Company, Inc. introduces the Gentle Treatment, the first no-lye relaxer. This relaxer was pushed to not only encourage all that  relaxers were good for your hair,  but they were now better due to them being No-Lye. This also spun up Herbal and Botanical hair relaxers from companies like Soft & Beautiful (i).

–Early-Mid 1990’s Don’t forget the Rio: I remember this one. I was probably no more than 8 when this infomercial came on boasting about all these benefits of this relaxer sweeping the nation called Rio Hair Naturlizer System. I remember thinking to myself “Wow, I sure wish I had hair like those women”. Thank God I didn’t get my wish. The relaxer industry took a BIG hit (however not big enough to get people to stop using relaxers) when this relaxer stood in the way of a Class Action Law suit against World Rio Corporation. After 53,000 filed cases arose from people using the product suffering from scalp burns, hair loss and green hair (iv); this relaxer was taken off of the market. When I think about this scare I always remember the running joke of “Sure hope that’s not a Rio” being stated when someone walked past a woman with unhealthy hair. Although this incident raised many questions about the safety of chemicals such as copper, ammonium and chloride salts being in relaxers, the industry still didn’t take a nose dive(v).  Go figure.

–2009 Good Hair movie by Chris Rock is released: This movie shined a little light on Relaxers and perms within the African-American community. During a segment of the movie Chris Rock visits a scientist and asks him if Relaxers are safe to be used on humans. He does an interesting test of soaking a soda can in the compounds that make up a relaxer. The most surprising result out of this little science experiment is that the last soda can out of 3 totally dissenergrated within the mixture. As shocking as this image was I still didn’t stop relaxing my hair, along with many other women.

– 2010 Marks the 100 year anniversary of Hair Relaxers: How do we celebrate this chemical that has been around for as long as our great-grandparents? We go NATURAL. During this time the “Natural Hair Movement” as some will call it hit a SPIKE. Between the increase of YouTube channels and natural product entrepreneurs popping up every time you hit refresh; relaxers were finally being told to move over, there was a new Curly Sherriff in town. This collective group didn’t need to relax or be manageable in order to exist. There was another pivotal shift in Relaxers during the 100th year anniversary. Due to all of the buzz and key words being put in Google within the Natural Hair Community (NHC), Relaxers took a turn towards conscious care. More companies such as Soft & Beautiful, Dark and Lovely, and Soft Sheen Carson, began incorporating olive, argon, tea tree oil and a slew of other ingredients prominate in the Natural Hair Community into relaxers.

–2011 to Present Day: Relaxers are still incorporating the Natural key ingredients on the boxes of their products. Just goes to show what a little empowerment can do to an industry living off of you. As the percentages of naturals rise the decrease in sales of relaxers will continue to slide. This industry can stand for a good reevaluation if you ask me, but for now it seems to be implementing more conscious ways to maintain relevance. Take a look at the lovely slideshow below of all the new oil ingredients in the perms now. If at any point individuals in the Natural Hair Community questioned their influence, I dare you to stroll down that perm isle and see exactly how much of a difference you make. Perms with olive oil included boasting great health results is like telling a child to never look both ways while crossing the street and hopefully they’ll only get hit by a car and not a truck.

Relaxers have a major competitor, it’s the woman who wants another option outside of straight “manageable” hair. This woman is looking for something new and I don’t mean a new celebrity on the  relaxer box. No one knows the next stop for Relaxers. They have 100 years of being in business and to be honest that’s a lot of time to perfect this mixture and get it right. However, I would be remissed if I didn’t tell you I was waiting for the day when all African-American women decided another way for themselves. Relaxers have had a good run, but it doesn’t take much for you to notice your hair growth is being stunted, the health is questionable at times and the whole feel good impression in your hair leaves after 1 or 2 weeks.  We can’t determine where Relaxers will go into the future but I know based off of this timeline they have some competition ahead of them.No matter if you relax or rock your hair in its natural state we can’t ever lose sight of health first and everything else second. The history of relaxers is not over yet. I’m interested to see what’s next for the beauty industry and this chemical implanted as a tradition in our community.

History of Relaxer 2

(i)  History of Hair Relaxers. Retrieved Feb 2012: http://www.ehow.com/about_5098213_history-hair-relaxers.html

(ii) Madam CJ Walker. Retrieved Feb 2012: http://www.madamcjwalker.com/faqs/#10

(iii) Relaxer. Retrieved Feb 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relaxer

(iv) Ayana D. Byrd; Lori L. Tharps (30 November 2006). Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. Diane Pub Co. p. 95.

(v)  Zook, Kristal Brent (January 7, 1996). “Get out of our hair: Untangling the politics on top of the black woman’s head“, The Washington Post, pp. C1.

sharing from 

Living in the Curl of it…

Diana (aka DRamZ84)

The Hairistory of Hair Spray

A Timeline of Hairspray

1943  Hairspray was invented during World War II.

1950’s  Woman with 50's hair style

In the 1950’s, the bouffant hairstyle increased the use of hairspray

1960’s Woman Wearing Rollers 

In the 1960’s, the use of curlers, hairpieces, heating irons and teasing continued to enhance the popularity. In 1964, hairspray surpassed lipstick as women’s most popular cosmetic aid.



By the end of the 60’s, the abundant use of hairspray ended with the long straight hair and natural look worn by the flower children, hippies and women libbers did not lend itself to being teased and sprayed.

By the end of the 70’s 

  hairspray is BACK….

1980’s  Man with spiky hair style

In the 1980’s, heavy hairspray made a comeback with the punk rock music enthusiasts, who used very strong sprays to spike their hair and Mohawks.


 1990’s   soft holding sprays



Are you a skin care “Directions Rebel”?

Here’s a scenario: You buy a new exfoliating skin care product. The directions say you should leave it on your skin for 10 minutes, then remove it. But after 10 minutes go by, you feel you should leave it on longer – you don’t feel any “stinging” sensation, and you know that exfoliation is good for your skin, so why not? Therefore you decide to leave it on for another 10 minutes.

Here’s another scenario: You buy a new skin care product and don’t read the directions at all. You just open the package, and apply the product, thinking it’s probably just like any other one you’ve used in the past.

Are you guilty of either of the above scenarios? Then I’d call you a Directions Rebel.

The Danger of Skin Care Direction Rebellion

Skin care products – especially those with potent, active ingredients found in exfoliators, sunscreens and anti-aging formulas – have specific directions that should be followed to the letter. For example, the alpha hydroxyl acid in our Bioelements Quick Refiner exfoliator can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun – so the directions state you should follow with an application of sunscreen.

You only get one face – and when you use high-powered products incorrectly, you risk causing damage – in the form of irritation, sunburns, or hyperpigmentation. So follow directions – they’re the only way to get the younger-looking skin your want safely, for years to come.

Leave the High-Powered Formulations To The Pros

If you want to experiment with more advanced, more potent ingredients, visit a Bioelements skin care professional. She can Custom Blend your facial and take home products with highly concentrated Custom Blend Additives. A few drops of these unique formulas can transform your treatments – zeroing in on what your skin needs – whether it’s help with redness, enlarged pores, lines, breakouts – or a combination of an almost endless array of skin care concerns.

Thank You Bioelements Skin Care.

Pimple Popping, Acne, Tanning Beds and More…..

Alcohol and acne:

Q. I see acne breakouts after a night of drinking alcohol, probably from dehydration and sugary drinks. Which is better to drink to help with this situation: beer, or liquor?

A. Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes dehydration, and dehydration can wreak havoc on the skin. Since most alcohol is packed with sugar, neither beer nor liquor is the right choice in excess, so limit how much you drink of either during a night out — and make sure you also drink lots of water during the evening. Your skin will thank you in the morning.

There are also things you can do for your skin the morning after a night out. Give it a soothing and hydrating mask, such as our Gel Therapy. This mask will hydrate and feed your skin with essential minerals. Leave it on for 10 minutes, remove with water and follow with several spritzes ofCalmitude Hydrating Solution, our calming toner. Finally, apply Stress Solution over your entire face to comfort, smooth and lock in moisture with green tea extracts and vitamins E and A.

Popping pimples:

Q. If popping pimples is bad then why does the esthetician I go to pop my pimples?

A. There’s a big difference between a trained skin care professional performing extractions in a treatment room environment and someone “popping pimples” at home. I’ve written about this in other posts (see here), but 1. A professional esthetician is working in a sterilized environment which therefore greatly reduces the chance of infection. 2. She has access to pro-use-only products to treat the skin for maximum results. 3. She’ll use professional equipment to prep the skin for easier extractions, greatly reducing the chance for skin injury. 4. She has years and years of training – specific training on extractions, and knows particularly what can and cannot be extracted. This is invaluable knowledge that simply cannot be underestimated when it come to your face.

I often say “the easiest way to get more pimples is to pop one at home.” When you pop a pimple, you increase the spread of infection and bacteria. Leave extractions to the professional estheticians.

Tanning and acne:

Q. Is there any truth behind tanning beds being good for acne? I’ve had nurses and cosmetologists suggest this. What are your thoughts? I’d like to set the record straight! Thank you.

A. This is an excellent question. It is a complete misconception that tanning beds – or any UV exposure – is good for acne. Many people feel that tanning can improve their skin because it can temporarily dry up surface oil and mask redness. However, despite these temporary results (and yes, they are only temporary) – UV exposure only weakens and damages skin, significantly increasing the likelihood that it will be left with red, brown or black pigment marks where skin tried to protect itself from the UV rays. In addition, ultraviolet light will only increase the risk of skin cancer and early aging of the skin.

Many Thanks to Bioelements Professional Skin Care for this information.

Bioelements Now at N2 Hair Salon and Day Spa

We choose this professional product for use with our facials and skin care services offered at N2 Hair Salon and Day Spa.

Come in and experience the effects of a facial or massage.  We retail the Bioelement products for home care.


Chances are, if you have ever had a professional facial, you’ve experienced Bioelements. Since 1991, skin care specialists have been using our highly individualized formulas to treat the skin, target complexion concerns and discourage skin aging. And, unlike ordinary skin care, each Bioelements product is a professionally created treatment designed to make a major difference in the appearance of your skin.


Formula Quality & Integrity

Bioelements runs every single product through the strictest quality control for the most trusted professional results.  We insist on conducting real-life testing by a team of expert estheticians, because we know no one is a better judge of product performance than those who use it day in and day out. Bioelements formula integrity states that we will never use any artificial colorants or synthetic fragrances and never test on animals. We also use organic botanicals and oils. This integrity statement is so important, it’s prominently featured on all of our retail packaging.


Responsible Packaging

Smart choices – we’ve made them since day one. From the moment we launched our very first product, our goal was quality and effectiveness above all else. And we realized that this goal went beyond using scientifically advanced ingredients – we needed to choose eco-friendly packaging that helped maintain and enhance product performance as well.

It turns out that we were way ahead of the curve. From our recyclable skin care packaging to earth-friendly ink and paper, Bioelements packaging helps deliver optimum product performance while positively impacting the earth. And just as our cosmetic scientists continue to seek out the latest high-tech ingredients for our formulas, we will also continue to evolve with the latest responsible packaging advancements.

Glass Skin Care Packaging

Not only does glass help maintain the integrity of our products, but it is also 100% recyclable.

Why Glass?
Glass is 100% recyclable.
It’s one of the most recoverable products, with a vast majority being recycled and made into new glass jars.
Glass helps ensure freshness and product performance.
It is nonporous and impermeable, plus, it will not deteriorate, so the product inside retains its strength.
Recycling glass has less impact on the environment, and conserves natural resources.
It saves energy, creates no waste, and lessens greenhouse gasses.
Glass packaging is protective and tamper-resistant.
It’s impermeable, and helps safeguard against moisture and oxygen invasion – which can destroy a product.
Glass is non-toxic and approved by the FDA.
It’s made from plentiful, naturally occurring minerals like sand and limestone, and is one of the safest packaging materials.
Did you know?
Over 80% of Bioelements products are packaged in eco-friendly glass. The other 20% are packaged in materials that are necessary for specific product performance and stability.

Responsible Formulas

Our products are paraben-free, and we never use artificial colorants or synthetic frangrances in our formulas. Bioelements products are also never tested on animals.

Vegetable / Soy-based ink

In our efforts to maintain a high standard of environmentally responsible printing, Bioelements box packaging and support materials are printed with vegetable/soy-based inks.

These special inks are an environmentally friendly, and safe approach to printing that takes only a small amount of energy to make. In comparison to petroleum-based inks, vegetable/soy-based release low VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air. And since they are derived from nature, they are a completely renewable resource.

Eco-friendly paper

Bioelements chooses to work with vendors that are FSC-accredited for all packaging needs. The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is an international organization committed to finding solutions that promote responsible forestry practices. In order to receive this top accreditation, a company must meet the highest criteria of sustainable consumption, including proving that they use responsible tactics in choosing trees, and employing proper storage and handling practices. It’s just another way we dedicate ourselves to conservational practices.

Did you know?

Paper products take up a whopping 40% of the space in landfills. Bioelements uses packaging paper that is 100% recyclable.


N2 Hair Salon and Day Spa/L’ANZA Volume Shampoo and Conditioner: How and Why it works…

Healing Volume Products

At N2 Hair Salon and Day Spa we  recommend this shampoo and conditioner for at home use by our clients with fine hair. It is amazing what a difference it makes not only after one use but continued it heals the hair adding body and fullness to their fine, limp hair.  Creates volume by fortifying and thickening the hair shaft.  This product contains bodifying vitamins and minerals.  This is a light weight formula so the volume lasts.

The look is changing this season.  We are seeing fuller hair styles and everyone wants them.  We have found we can offer a thicker and fuller look for our clients with fine hair  because this is a light weight shampoo and conditioner it does not




As usual…..through L’ANZA we the team at N2 Hair Salon and Day Spa can create the looks our clients are looking for.