Natural Hair Relaxers

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naturally relax curls

Homemade Hair Relaxer Recipes

With growing concerns about the potentially harmful chemicals found in many beauty products, hordes of people are making the switch to products made with all natural ingredients. Thanks to the demand for safer, more wholesome products, there seems to be a natural alternative for almost every hair and beauty product out there: shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, lotions, hair gels. But if you relax your hair, or if you like to straighten your natural hair often, you might find yourself wondering if there’s such a thing as a natural hair relaxer. The answer is yes and no. No, there are no completely natural products that can permanently straighten your hair. However, there are natural products that can temporarily loosen your curls. Here are some ways you can naturally relax your hair.

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1Knowing The Difference

It’s important to note that a natural hair relaxer will not have the same effects as a chemical relaxer that uses sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide. For this reason, the term “natural relaxer” can be confusing, especially since many modern chemical relaxers now contain natural ingredients such as olive oil and shea butter. The addition of these ingredients may help moisturize your hair and protect it from the harsh effects of the relaxing process, but permanent hair relaxers still use chemicals to break down the bonds in your hair, which is what straightens it. A true natural relaxer, on the other hand, will use all natural ingredients to help temporarily stretch your curls, which will help fight shrinkage and make your hair easier to straighten with heat. However, you should not expect a natural relaxer to completely straighten your hair.

2Hair Relaxers – How They Work

Have you ever noticed that your curls are longer and less tightly coiled when they are soaking wet in the shower? This is because the water is saturating your strands, weighing them down and causing them to stretch. This is how many natural relaxers work: they infuse moisture into your hair, elongating – or “relaxing” – your curls. This process also typically makes the hair softer to the touch and easier to detangle. As a result, the hair is also easier to straighten if you’re doing a roller set, blow drying, and/or flat ironing. This is because the more tightly coiled the hair is, the more effort it takes to straighten, so by loosening the curl pattern, you’re able to straighten your hair with less effort, which can help protect it from heat damage. It’s a win-win situation all around.

3Who’s A Good Candidate For A Natural Relaxer?

A natural relaxer is a good alternative for anyone who wants to temporarily stretch their curls and/or straighten their hair with ease. It’s also a great choice if your hair is prone to breakage and dryness since the process will also often condition your tresses in the process. Certain types of natural relaxers are also ideal for ladies who want to take a break from chemical relaxers. Getting relaxer touch-ups too frequently can result in over-processing, which is a recipe for damage. Using a natural relaxer can help you stretch your relaxers by softening and loosening your new growth; and since you’re using natural ingredients, you don’t have to worry about adverse effects that come from relaxing hair that’s already been chemically processed. If you are transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair, a natural relaxer is a great way to aid the process, particularly if you want to continue to wear your hair straight. It will help you blend the two textures and provide much-needed moisture that your hair will need to fight breakage that happens at the line of demarcation (the point where your natural hair meets your relaxed hair).

4Hair Relaxers – Choose Wisely

As a word of caution, not every natural relaxer included in this list will give you the same results. Some recipes are more natural than others, and everyone’s hair will respond differently to each process. It’s always important to do your own research and listen to your hair’s needs. Even 100% natural ingredients can yield unwanted results, cause allergic reactions, and/or damage your hair, so be very careful when trying out any new process. If you notice that your hair is responding negatively to any product (natural or otherwise), discontinue use immediately. As always, it’s also a good idea to consult with a trusted, professional stylist about what may work best for your hair. Here are some natural hair relaxer recipes you can try.

5Olive Oil

Olive oil is a common ingredient in natural hair relaxer recipes. You can use it on its own as a hot oil treatment, or blend it with a conditioner. Carol’s Daughter makes an Olive Oil Infusion Kit  that you can use for this purpose, or you can go the DIY route and use your favorite conditioner and olive oil as a pre-shampoo treatment each time you wash your hair. This process will hydrate your hair and help soften and slightly loosen your curls with repeated use.

6Coconut Cream

Coconut cream is another popular ingredient in natural relaxer recipes. A popular formula includes mixing coconut cream with olive oil and/or plain yogurt. Apply to freshly washed hair as a conditioner. Make sure your strands are completely coated with the mixture, then cover with a plastic cap and leave it on for about an hour, then rinse and style. If you do this weekly, you may start to notice your curls loosen over time. This concoction can also make your hair stronger and softer.

7Milk And Honey 

Milk and honey make the perfect pairing for your morning tea, but they can also be used to naturally relax curls. There are a variety of recipes that include one or both of these natural ingredients. Mix the milk and honey together (enough to coat all of your hair) and apply to freshly shampooed hair. If you like, you can also add olive oil to the mixture for extra moisturizing properties. Rinse after 20-30 minutes and repeat once or twice a week. It may take several applications to start noticing a difference. It’s important to note that honey may also lighten your hair if you use it regularly, so if that is not a desired effect, you may want to try another relaxer recipe.

8Henna

Henna has been used for ages to create body art. Henna also has the ability to add a reddish tinge to your hair, and it is often used as an alternative to commercial hair dyes. The coloring effects are usually subtle and can sometimes only be seen in natural sunlight (particularly if you have very dark hair), but for many people, this process is much gentler on the hair than chemical hair dyes. Henna can also strengthen the hair and in some cases, loosen the hair’s natural curl pattern. There is some controversy surrounding the usage of henna for the hair. Some claim that it can actually damage the hair over time and that is it, in fact, a permanent process (even though the color may fade), so by repeatedly applying it to the hair, you are over-processing it and making it weaker, not stronger. Be sure to thoroughly research the use of henna for hair before you try it. If you choose to use it, buy your henna from a reputable vendor, ensuring that it is body art quality henna: real henna is plant-based, but some companies label products as henna when they actually have added ingredients that can be harmful.

9Baking Soda

Using baking soda is another controversial way to loosen curls. It’s also not really a 100% “natural” relaxer because most commercial baking soda is chemically processed. However, baking soda is not as strong as a chemical relaxer and it will not completely straighten your hair. Some naturals use baking soda to clarify and/or condition their hair. The results vary significantly depending on how often you use baking soda, how much you apply to your hair, and how long you leave it on. Baking soda has a high pH (9), which is believed to lift the hair cuticles, allowing more moisture to enter. For this reason, many people follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse. Apple cider vinegar has a low pH and helps close the cuticles and store the hair’s pH. Be very careful when using baking soda on your hair, as the effects may be permanent and/or damaging.

10Texture Manageability Systems

Texture manageability systems are sort of a happy medium between a chemical relaxer and an all natural one. Like natural relaxers, texture manageability systems do not straighten the hair outright, but rather make the hair easier to straighten with the use of heat. These systems also include ingredients that stop your hair from reverting back to its curly state (temporarily). Once you wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo, your natural curl pattern will return. Many naturals like these kits because it makes it easier to switch from curly to straight hair. While their formulas are not usually 100% natural, texture manageability systems earned a spot on this list because their effects are temporary and the ingredients are much gentler on the hair.