Relaxers for Black Hair

African American woman with relaxed hair
Relaxed hair flows easily.

Relaxers for black hair straighten the hair, and when applied correctly, can give the hair body and a shiny appearance. When selecting a relaxer to use at home, choose a product that is the gentlest for your hair type. For example, do not use a product for extra coarse hair on soft hair with loose curls. Relaxers change the structure of the hair, so over processing with relaxers can severely damage the hair and burn the scalp.

Relaxers for Black Hair: Affirm

Affirm by Avalon is a popular cream relaxer for black hair that is applied by hair stylists in beauty salons. It is not a box relaxer, and it is not normally sold in stores to people who are not professionals. However, it is sold in online beauty supply stores and there are a few beauty supply stores that do carry Affirm. The relaxer is typically sold in large sizes for professional use in salons. This conditioning relaxer system is said to condition the hair before, during, and after the perm, according to the company's web site.

Affirm has an original, control, dry and itchy scalp, and a sensitive scalp formula. Both the original and the control versions have mild, normal, and resistant formulas. The original version of the relaxer is applied by stylists who work at a faster than normal pace when applying the relaxer. The control version is designed for stylists with a slower application time when applying the relaxer.

Kit Relaxers

There are a host of box kits with relaxers for black hair that are readily available for consumer purchase.

  • Dark and Lovely by Softsheen-Carson is one of the most well-known brands of relaxers. This relaxer has a system that moisturizes black hair while it straightens it. Dark and Lovely also has a formula that is created especially for colored treated hair.
  • Optimum Care Relaxer is a relaxer by Softsheen-Carson. The bodifying relaxer in mild is created for fine hair. Optimum also has an anti-breakage formula in regular, for normal hair, and super, for resistant hair. The anti-breakage formulas help strengthen and reduce breakage, according to the Softsheen-Carson web site. Like most relaxers that are formulated for black hair, Optimum Care claims to provide silky straight hair with body and shine. Optimum has its fans, and some consumers have said that it leaves the hair feeling as soft as butter.
  • Mizani Classic Relaxers is a favorite brand among black women. The relaxer has a regular formula, a sensitive scalp formula, and a sensitive scalp formula with Arginine. The formula with Arginine uses protein to help strengthen the hair. Mizani has kits available for home use. Relaxer users with sensitive scalps should try Mizani's sensitive scalp formula, which is made for people who are allergic or sensitive to lye.
  • Organic Root Stimulator by Namaste Laboratories is a relaxer with olive oil, that is said to straighten course hair until it is silky straight. Some relaxer users swear by Organic Root Stimulator or ORS. The ORS relaxer moisturizes the hair and does not burn the scalp as easily as some other perms. When applying, however, the scalp should not be irritated. Don't scratch the scalp before applying a relaxer. ORS is available in a kit and it is sold in beauty supply stores.
  • Hawaiian Silky is a box relaxer that is no-lye and moisturizes as it straightens. Hawaiian Silky is sold in beauty supply stores and is also available online. Like most relaxers, Hawaiian Silky has a host of other products that for styling and moisturizing the hair. Manufactures state that to get the best results products within the same line should be used. Most relaxer wearers, however, use styling aids within different product lines as they choose.

People who are not professional stylists should complete hair strand tests before applying relaxers for black hair. Always use caution when applying relaxers, follow the directions, and never leave the relaxer in the hair for longer than the suggested duration to avoid potential problems and hair damage.

Relaxers for Black Hair