Since the 1950’s, relaxing curly, kinky or wavy hair into sleek and straight styles to make it more manageable has been the trend. Relaxing the hair is done by using a chemical process that changes the natural curling pattern of the hair. Hair relaxers offer a convenient style and makes straightening a simple and quick process. The downside of using hair relaxers is the damage that occurs and has opened many up to alternatives, especially chemical free options which can provide the same results without harming their hair.
Current formulas for hair relaxers most often contain lye. Many variations to hair relaxer formulas have worked on finding a way to minimize the chemical ingredients that so often cause damage to the hair. These are called, ‘no lye relaxers,’ though they still include chemical additives. Lye remains the basic root ingredient to chemically formulated hair relaxers and is the main cause for permanent damage and hair breakage.
In general when relaxing the hair, the hair bonds are broken and the cuticle layers erode, making the hair straight and easy to comb. However, the hair is now weaker and easily damaged as it has lots its elasticity as well. The results of the damage can be burning and scalp damage even bald spots.
What are the alternative options available? The most common is a natural relaxer, sometimes referred to as a texturizer. This formula contains no lye and is gentle to the hair. It does not completely straighten the hair but does loosen the curly pattern and soften the bonds instead of breaking them down. Using a texturizer very tight curls are loosened and loose curls have a wavy look while wavy hair is made fairly straight. Texturizers may also improve the condition of the hair while still allowing for styling options. Vitamins and minerals, along with amino acids are added to the formulas which add to the health of the hair. A flat iron can be used to assist in a more straight look to the hair when a texturizer is used.
A new breakthrough in a natural alternative for hair relaxers is called a ‘Bio Ionic System’ or ‘Thermal Ionic System’. The active ingredient in the formula is ammonium thiglycolate. This system is a way to provide 6-9 months of straight hair. This system cannot be used on relaxed hair straightened with lye formulas. Consult with your stylist if your prior hair relaxers have used lye before you use this type of alternative.
Because there is a demand for straight hair through the use of hair relaxers, many are seeking alternatives to the traditional chemical relaxers available on the market now. Though there is no true chemically free natural alternative readily available, speaking with your stylist may help you and your hair relax, knowing it has been treated with the best process for you.