base scalp before relaxerShould you base your scalp before a relaxer? We know how dangerous relaxers can be. A relaxer is a chemical. Any chemical that you introduce to your body, scalp or skin has the potential to be dangerous. In order to safely use a chemical treatment, you have to educate yourself. It’s not rocket science, but it isn’t something you just know without learning, either.

To avoid things like scalp irritations and burns, you can use a base for your relaxer. Some people swear by basing their scalp, while others never use it. There are arguments for both approaches. We will look at some of the things you should consider below.



First, let’s establish what constitutes a base. In the most basic way, a base is simply something that creates a barrier between your scalp and the chemical.

When relaxing your hair, you want the relaxer on the hair, not on your scalp or your skin. The base is what helps you achieve this goal.

Many things that are not specifically labeled as ‘relaxer base’ can successfully be used to protect your scalp. One of the most commonly used products for this, is petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly is easily applied, it’s cheap and it’s accessible to the masses. Many relaxer bases have a very similar composition to petroleum jelly.

Other things like oils, have also been used as bases for relaxer applications.


When a relaxer is applied, it should straighten your hair. The chemicals in the relaxer should process the hair that it touches.  A burning sensation is only felt when the chemical has actually begun processing the skin on your scalp. THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. Contrary to what some people believe, a burning sensation during a relaxer application is not ‘normal’. It doesn’t have to be that way.

The most obvious reason for using a base is so that you don’t burn your scalp. A relaxer can still penetrate the base and reach your scalp and burn you. That would be an extreme situation.

The base keeps the chemical on the hair strands and off your scalp.


Some argue that a base prevents the relaxer from fully processing or from processing as much as it would if the base were taken out of the equation.

This can be true. Depending on your hair, the type of base you use, how much base you use and the type of relaxer you apply. The base can, and most likely will, get onto some of the strands of your hair. Especially those strands that are closest to your scalp.

Because of this, the relaxer that is applied over top of the base, will have to first penetrate the layer of base before it reaches the hair strands. However, a proper application of relaxer will alleviate this concern.

Applying relaxer is more than just slapping the product onto your hair. The way that you part the hair, work the product through and smooth the product are the keys to a silky smooth and straight result.

To sum things up, if you want to apply a relaxer without using a base, you surely can. Just be sure that your scalp is free from any lacerations or anything else that could cause irritation or small scrapes on your scalp. Things like rashes or other skin irritations can all lead to chemical burns.

If you’re going to use a base, be sure to use a product that is designed specifically to base the scalp prior to the application process. You want to also concentrate of proper application and smoothing techniques so that you get the result you want.


If you have fine hair, you probably want to base your scalp. This is because your hair strands likely take less to process, so your scalp is more vulnerable to burning quickly. If you want to understand different hair types and terms relating to density, thickness and porosity, read this post.

If you have thick, dense hair, you may be able to get away with skipping a base, depending on the condition of your scalp.

Make smart decisions, especially when doing it yourself. You don’t ever want to risk hurting yourself or damaging your hair.

To see how I apply my partial relaxer and whole head relaxer, watch the videos below.

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