Best Relaxers for Black Hair: Detailed Guide

Hair Relaxers are made of chemicals that can cause serious side effects if not used properly. It is very important that hair relaxers should always be applied with the necessary protection. In order for the hair relaxers to produce the desired results you want, you should do your work upfront and choose the best relaxer for your hair type. This way you can avoid the side effects some people get from relaxers.

Which is the best hair relaxer for African American hair?

There are quite a few hair relaxers available in the market, but there is no generic relaxer that is going to be the absolute best for all hair types. Before trying to find out the best hair relaxer, you need to identify your hair type. Below is the hair type chart that will help you to find out your hair type.

Identify your hair type

If you plan to wear your hair both straight and curly, then it might be best to flat iron the hair. For hair types of up to 3b, you will be able to straighten the hair in a decent time frame with a good quality straightening iron. But, hair relaxers are the best option if you want to wear your hair permanently straight.

Curls of 4c and above are considered real kinky and nappy and would need relaxers designed for coarse or resistant hair. Determining the hair type is a crucial step in finding out the best hair relaxer for your hair.

Hair Characteristics

You need to analyze the type of hair you have. Is it strong and weak i.e easily prone to breakage? If your hair doesn’t respond well to certain treatments it is better to avoid relaxers that have those ingredients. Some people’s hair doesn’t respond well to protein treatments.

For those people avoid applying relaxers that are rich in protein. There are some clients whose hair thrives for protein and hence responds excellently well to protein-rich relaxers such as Affirm Fiberguard range.

Acid or Alkaline-based Relaxers

The next step is to decide whether you would want acid or alkaline-based relaxers. Both relaxers can be damaging to hair and hence should always be preceded and followed by a proper conditioning routine. Generally speaking, hair relaxers are alkaline meaning they will have a pH somewhere in the range of 9-14. But, there are some relaxers that are acidic like the low pH Xenna Curlaway relaxer.

But, acidic relaxers are not the best option when you are looking a pin-straight hair. Acid relaxers can be used to make hair more manageable or for defining the curl pattern. It also helps u reduce the flat ironing time when you want straight hair. The changes made with the acidic relaxers are temporary which means you have to consistently apply them to get straight hair. On the other hand, the advantages are that you don’t have to deal with regrowth, and it makes the transitioning to natural hair much easier.

If you want straight hair and don’t really want the apply an acid relaxer every week then you should go for the alkaline relaxers. Alkaline relaxers are very good at straightening the hair and results are permanent. You still would have to deal with regrowth every few months depending on the rate of hair growth. Alkaline relaxers typically have pH in the range of 9-14. Alkaline relaxers are further categorized into 2 types namely:

  • “Lye” relaxers
  • “No Lye” relaxers

Lye relaxers have the primary ingredient as Sodium Hydroxide. Sodium Hydroxide is also used as a chemical base in a large number of industrial processes. Hence sodium hydroxide relaxers are also known as base relaxers. It is not soluble in non-polar solvents. Due to the high incidence of chemical burns because of the strong nature of sodium hydroxide, you should always use a scalp protecting cream before applying the sodium hydroxide relaxer. In my opinion, all forms of sodium hydroxide relaxers should be reserved for professional use.

No Lye relaxers on the other hand made from calcium hydroxide, ammonium thioglycolate, guanidine hydroxide, guanidine carbonate, etc. No Lye relaxers are a lot milder on the scalp but can cause build-up in the hair. You need to use a clarifying shampoo to get rid of the build-up in the hair. Some people love no lye relaxers because the probability of scalp burns is a lot less in no lye relaxers than lye relaxers. But, if your hair is already dry and brittle then the build-up from no lye relaxers can cause the hair strands prone to breakage. It is important to use a deep treatment regularly whichever type of relaxers you choose to use.

Natural Hair Relaxers

There are some relaxers that are found to contain naturally occurring ingredients. If you want a milder relaxer and just want the curl patter reduced rather than obtaining a sleek straight look then natural hair relaxers might be something worth looking at.

Characteristics of the best hair relaxers for natural hair

  • Would cause no damage to hair or scalp
  • Relaxing process should produce the desired outcome for your hair
  • Your hair should respond well in the strand test before the relaxing process
  • Price Tag should be within budget
  • More than that you should feel happy after seeing the results from the relaxer and your hair should feel moisturized and nourished with a regular deep treatment

Most hair relaxers marketed in the US are primarily designed for African American people and hence if you are of a different ethnic group you might want to use a milder form of a relaxer. If you are not sure whether your hair is suitable for relaxers, always seek professional help. A strand test in most cases will give you a brief idea about how good your hair is going to respond to the relaxer.

Here is the list of hair relaxers available in the market. There are many products that have similar ingredients. Whether it will suit your hair or not depends on your hair type.

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