Hair relaxing has been around for African Americans for well over a century at this point, so like it or not, they are here to stay. Since Garrett Morgan accidentally discovered the compound while trying to find a solution to lessen friction in a sewing machine at his tailor shop. After trying the compound out on a dog. Yes that’s right, A DOG, he formed the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company.
How is African American Hair Straightened?
If you’ve ever wondered how to relax hair at home, there are a number of techniques which African American women and men for that matter use when relaxing hair at home. Some of those processes for relaxing hair at home include:
- Hair Relaxing
- Hair Rebonding
What is Hair Relaxing?
The traditional hair relaxing method uses chemicals to straighten the hair by breaking down and reforming the hair’s elements. Usually, the procedure does not straighten the hair entirely. Rather, it softens very tight or kinky curls. Many women find they still need to straighten their hair after getting it relaxed if they want it to be altogether straight.
What Chemicals are Used in Chemical Hair Relaxers
The chemicals used in this process are typically lye-based. Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, has a high pH level, which means it is a strong alkaline (in contrast to an acid). It can straighten very quickly however can cause scalp inflammation if you leave it on for too long. However, there are non-lye relaxers– a typical one is guanidine hydroxide
What is Hair Rebonding?
Hair rebonding is a technique that chemically relaxes your hair. Hair is primarily comprised from a hard protein called keratin. Keratin is also found in your fingernails, toenails and skin. Hair keratin is formed from amino acids. The keratin protein in hair is connected by bonds and the bonds identify the texture of your hair.
When you use hair rebonding, you break the bonds in your hair and rebuild them so that the overall texture changes. Hair rebonding produces straight hair for those who have curly hair, whereas a permanent wave creates curly hair for those with straight.
What Chemicals are Used in Hair Rebonding
Similar to traditional hair relaxing, hair rebonding often uses alkaline and lye cream relaxers, followed by a neutralizer. How long does hair rebonding last? To be honest, hair rebonding can last as long as 6-7 months! Hair rebonding is very popular in both India and Pakistan. Here are some popular hair rebonding creams
- Shiseido Hair Rebonding Hair Straightener
- Cure One Step Japanese Magic Hair Straightening Treatment
- Brazilian Keratin Hair Treatment
Side Effects of Hair Rebonding
Hair Rebonding is a traumatic process on the hair. Because this is such a traumatic process, it comes with several side effects. Some of the side effects of the hair rebonding process are as follows:
- Extremely fragile hair
- Potential scalp burning from the alkaline and lye chemicals used to treat the hair
- Potential hair loss
One of the absolute most common and biggest negative effects of hair rebonding is Dryness which bring about weak and fragile hair. Natural moisture retaining capability of hair is reduced and hair become dull and frizzy with time. There are several treatments available that are the best treatment for dry hair.
Hair Relaxing for African American Hair
Now that we’ve addressed how both hair relaxers as well as hair rebonding, let’s discuss the reemergence of the “natural hair” movement. Ladies are wearing faux locs, crochet braids, and even wrapping their hair in a tignon. There are still a number of ladies that still like to use a natural, non-chemical based relaxer for their hair. Now as much as we’d like to believe that there is an all natural hair relaxer for black hair, which is why the lye based relaxers still exist. Rest assured however, that there are certain hair relaxers that are more natural than others. Natural hair relaxers are essentially HIGHLY moisturizing deep hair conditioners.
How Do Natural Hair Relaxers Work
Because natural hair relaxers are in fact deep hair moisturizers, they cause the hair to be weighed down with excess oils and fat. Additionally, natural hair relaxers require that the hair receives some additional heat treatment. In many cases, while natural hair relaxers have the natural hair moniker, they still have chemicals added. Some the chemicals that have been found in a number of natural hair relaxers are as follows:
- Isopropyl alcohol
Here are a few truly 100% chemical free natural hair relaxers for black hair:
Do Your Research on Chemical Free Natural Hair Relaxer
When it’s best, opt in for a chemical-free, 100% natural hair relaxer. So if you’re looking to relax natural hair without chemicals, your best bet is to take the time to read the label. Why? Because there might just be a few hidden chemicals in the relaxer that you might just miss.