In simple words, a relaxer is used to straighten hair temporarily or permanently. For African hair, it is used to create perms, while for those who have natural wavy hair, the same product is practiced for complete hair straightening. Relaxer lotion is effective for breaking down the proteins bonds of hair, thereby altering the texture and giving a straightened appearance.
Applying a relaxer is nothing but weakening the natural strength of hair by breaking down the bonds. Products sold in beauty stores contain strong chemicals, so as to give mind-boggling results. Even the best hair relaxer brands contain chemicals that may cause negative effects, not only to hair but also to the scalp.
Hydroxide Compounds: Several types of hydroxide compounds are used in commercially sold relaxer lotions. To mention a few, ammonium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, and calcium hydroxide are added in specific amounts. Out of these, sodium hydroxide is the main component for lye relaxer type.
Hydrogen Peroxide: A common ingredient in many skin and hair care products, hydrogen peroxide is also used in formulation of hair relaxers. Chemically, it is a mild acid having a bleaching property.
Phosphoric Acid: The name itself reveals that it is acidic in nature. This acidic ingredient is known to cause health hazards, particularly to the skin, respiratory tract, and nervous system.
Cocoa Butter: In a natural relaxer, cocoa butter is one of the popularly added ingredients. It does not enter the hair shaft and break bonds like a chemical agent. Cocoa butter moisturizes the hair strands, thus reducing tangles and loose curls.
Activator Gel: While making a natural hair relaxer at home, activator gel blends well with the cocoa butter. Together, these two ingredients help in straightening curly hair and also, in strengthening the hair shaft. They make the best combination for straightening out heavy curls.
Olive Oil: Olive oil is a good ingredient for hair relaxing. Applying warm olive oil to the hair frequently give straightening effects, while still maintaining the natural hair structure. And remember to leave olive oil for at least 2 hours. You can use olive oil with other plant-based ingredients to get prompt results.
Coconut Milk: Loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals, fresh coconut milk is a common ingredient in skin and hair care treatments. This white milky solution extracted from the meat part of coconut is useful for health of your scalp and hair. It also has natural hair relaxing properties.
Homemade Relaxer Recipes
No doubt, there are a lot of hair relaxer products in the market. But, many people who are very conscious about hair care prefer to use natural hair relaxer. The plus point is you can select ingredients that are plant-based and safe for the hair. Also, you can have control over the amount of ingredients added in the recipe, according to your hair type and texture. Following are two easy-to-make hair relaxer recipes for you:
Recipe # 1: In a saucepan, combine together ¾ cup of freshly prepared coconut milk and juice of 1 ½ lemons. Mix them well and keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Apply it to your hair, covering all the strands. Finish by wrapping a hot towel for about 1 hour. Following this, wash hair with a good shampoo. This recipe is suited for hair with less curls.
Recipe # 2: Take ½ cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of a good quality hair conditioner. First of all, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat setting. When it is warm, add the conditioner and stir well with a wooden spatula, until you get a smooth concoction. Remove from heat and let it cool down. Apply this hair relaxer and leave for 7-10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with cold water.
Needless to say, a homemade version made with natural ingredients is always a better alternative than using chemical based formulations. It may not be as effective as commercial brands in relaxing hair, but it doesn't have side effects. If you decide to use commercial products, be sure to check for reviews, and opt for the one that has many satisfied customers. While using the product, strictly follow the usage directions provided in the leaflet to get effective results.