Can You Relax Dirty Hair?(Here’s What Expert Say)

Can You Relax Dirty Hair

If you’re anything like me, you probably dislike the daily chore of washing your hair.

It’s a time-consuming, tedious process that can even be painful at times, especially when dealing with tangled knots.

But what if I told you there might be a way to relax your hair without the need for daily shampooing?

It may sound too good to be true, but I decided to put this theory to the test and investigate the effects of relaxing unwashed hair. Here’s what I discovered.

Can You Relax Dirty Hair? (My Experiment)

First and foremost, let’s clarify what I mean by “relaxing.”

Relaxing is a chemical process that involves applying a solution to your hair to break down the natural bonds that give it its curl or wave, resulting in smoother, straighter, and more manageable hair.

This procedure can be done either at home or in a salon, but it’s important to note that it’s not recommended for individuals with extremely dry, damaged, or color-treated hair.

Now, you might wonder why anyone would want to relax their hair without washing it first.

Some individuals suggest that relaxing dirty hair might actually yield more effective and less damaging results.

The rationale behind this notion is that the natural oils and dirt on your hair could potentially act as a protective barrier between the chemicals and your hair shaft, reducing the risk of over-processing and excessive drying.

The goal is to achieve better results with less damage.

For Example, here’s what Liz Muller from Liz’s Hair Design in Hollywood, Florida have to say about it.

  • It is important not to wash or brush the hair for several days (ideally three to four days) before a relaxer treatment.
  • Washing or brushing the hair right before relaxer can open up the scalp pores and potentially cause damage or discomfort.
  • Even if you apply a protective base to the scalp, washing before the relaxer may lead to burning or stinging sensations.
  • To avoid any discomfort during the relaxer treatment, it’s recommended to come with unwashed hair, and the relaxer can be applied without causing any burning or hurting sensations.

Read Also: How To Tell If Relaxer Is Still In Hair?

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But does it hold true? To answer this question, I decided to embark on a personal experiment.

I have naturally curly hair that I typically wash every other day.

For this experiment, I refrained from washing my hair for an extended period of four days and then used a relaxer kit purchased from a drugstore.

I followed the instructions provided on the package and patiently awaited the transformation.

The outcome?

Let me be frank; it was far from ideal.

My hair appeared greasy, lifeless, and flat. The relaxer did not seem to produce the desired effect. While my curls were still present, they now appeared frizzy and lackluster.

My scalp felt irritated and itchy, and, most disappointingly, my hair felt dry and brittle. It was a complete letdown.

So, what went wrong?

After conducting some research, I came to the conclusion that relaxing dirty hair is not advisable.

Contrary to popular belief, the oils and dirt on your hair do not shield it from the chemicals. In reality, they can hinder the relaxer’s penetration and prevent it from working effectively.

This can lead to uneven results, patchy areas, or, in some cases, no results at all.

Furthermore, relaxing dirty hair increases the risk of scalp burns and infections, as the chemicals can react with bacteria and fungi present on your scalp.

The key takeaway here is: refrain from attempting to relax dirty hair.

It simply isn’t worth it. If you’re considering hair relaxing, ensure that your hair is clean and free from any product buildup.

This will maximize the effectiveness and uniformity of the relaxer’s results.

And of course, always adhere to the instructions provided on the package and perform a strand test before applying the relaxer to your entire head.

Read Also: Can I Relax My Hair After Washing It?


People have different opinions about whether it’s a good idea to relax your hair when it’s dirty. Some folks think that having dirty hair can make the relaxer work better.

They believe that when your hair is dirty, the relaxer takes longer to work, which can make your hair straighter. But there are others who say that if your hair is dirty, the relaxer has to break through all the gunk in your hair first, which might not work well.

On the flip side, some experts say it’s not a good idea to put a relaxer on dirty hair. Relaxers have chemicals that break down the hair’s bonds, and dirt and oils can mess up this process.

It’s important to mention that even if you wash your hair gently before relaxing it, it could still irritate your scalp and cause a burning sensation when you put the relaxer on.

That’s why some people suggest avoiding strenuous workouts before getting a relaxer, as sweat can make your scalp feel dirtier and more irritated.

In the end, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and it might depend on your hair type and personal experiences. If you’re thinking about relaxing your hair, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional hairstylist or do a small test first to see how it works for you.

-Written by Sarah Harmer

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