Pros & Cons of Relaxing Curly Hair

Hair relaxers are products that contain chemicals to break the bond in the hair shaft that causes it to twist. People have a wide variety of hair textures and styles. Those with curly hair may either embrace their curls or hate them. Hair relaxers are often considered by people who want a change from their curly, hard to manage hair. Some people with extremely tight curls may find it difficult to break the bond of their hair’s structure and straighten their hair without chemicals. Before applying chemicals to your hair and head it is important to weigh the pros and cons and consider alternatives.

Pros of Relaxing Hair

There are many reasons people with curly hair would consider relaxing their hair. It is common for people (especially women) with coarse, super tight curls to desire flowing, straight, soft strands of hair. Hair relaxers can give these women a permanent (until roots grow out) means to straight hair without spending the time to iron their hair straight after every shower. Hair relaxers can be a time saver and easily give you beautiful, straight hair.

Cons of Relaxing Hair

As appealing as it is to relax your hair there are many cons that can change your mind. Hair relaxers contain harsh chemicals that can lead to dry, damaged hair and can irritate the scalp. The chemicals can even lead to hair loss. Once you straighten your hair permanently, you may find that you miss your curls and have to wait for them to grow back out. Also, if you dye your hair, the relaxer will be stressful on your hair, due to drying and damage from the chemicals, so you may need to choose between hair dye and a relaxer. Getting your hair relaxed can be expensive—typically between $85 and $200—if done professionally. If you choose to try relaxing your hair at home you may cause extra damage.

Many women expect their coarse, curly hair to magically transform into soft, silky hair with the use of a relaxer. The results vary depending on the health of hair, hair texture, quality of relaxer and skill of the stylist. A major con of relaxing your hair is that you won’t know how well your hair will respond to it until you have tried it. For best results, spend a little extra money on an experienced hair stylist.

Alternatives to Relaxing Curly Hair

There are ways to straighten hair temporarily to give you the relaxed look without the use of harsh chemicals, however, these methods are not permanent. Due to the use of heated appliances, they can still cause damage to the hair. To cause the least amount of damage to your hair, learn how to style and enjoy your curly hair and try these straightening techniques only on special occasions. Blow dry your hair while brushing it straight. This will force the hair shaft to dry straight. You can also try a hair straightener or even a curling iron. These heated appliances will straighten your hair by ironing the curls and kinks out of dry hair.

No-Damage Alternatives

For a no damage approach to relaxing your hair you can try applying very large rollers or curlers (you can even try a soda can) and wrap your hair around the curler to dry. This may leave you with soft waves instead of poker straight hair but it will relax tight curls. One more option—without the damage—is to purchase a wig with straight hair that matches your hair color. You can wear it when you desire straight hair and people will assume you’ve just straightened your hair.

About this Author

Shelley de Soto is an arts writer in Los Angeles. She regularly writes artists’ bios and exhibition statements for catalogues, websites, and media releases. She has worked professionally in the arts since 2000. De Soto has a Bachelor of Arts in art history from the University of California at Berkeley.