Relaxers vs Texturizers for Black Hair

Know What to Expect From Each Chemical Process

Woman consulting her hairstylist on relaxers vs. texturizers
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The difference between the relaxers and texturizers that are commonly used on black hair can be confusing. They are both chemical processes that will permanently alter your hair and relaxer formulas can be used to get the same results as a texturizer. The difference is in the time involved and the final results.

If you want straight hair every day, a relaxer will give you the look you're going for.

On the other hand, a texturizer will only loosen or relax your natural curl pattern. It also offers the option of changing your style from straight to curly on a daily basis.

With either of these processes, it's important to avoid overprocessing your hair. If you remain vigilant about the chemicals used, the product is used properly, and you properly maintain your hair afterward, you can avoid serious problems like breakage and hair loss.

There are a number of other differences between relaxers and texturizer that are important to consider before you head to the salon.

Time Factor

The amount of time the chemicals are left to react with the hair is the main factor in differing results between the two processes. Relaxers are typically left on the hair from 10 to 20 minutes, while texturizers shouldn't be left on for more than five to 10 minutes.

This time factor is also what can make it difficult to get uniform results from one texturizer to the next.

Two minutes may make a big difference in your results if you're after slightly relaxed hair instead of a completely straight 'do.

Chemical Composition

Many hair products make claims of being "natural" on the bottles and jars. However, one drop of olive oil doesn't make a product natural when every other ingredient is five syllables long!

Don't be fooled by claims that texturizers are a natural product. Both relaxers and texturizers contain chemicals that change the hair permanently

In many cases, these products contain the same ingredients, which is why a relaxer formula can be used to get texturizer results. What alters the results is the amount of time that they're left on the hair.

Texturizers are particularly tricky. They can be packaged differently and offer various claims—i.e., they're "healthier" or "better" for your hair than traditional relaxers—but read the ingredient labels. You will find that most contain sodium or calcium hydroxide, just like a relaxer.

No matter which process you decide on, it's important to rinse it out with a neutralizing shampoo and care for it properly afterward. Since the chemicals can be damaging and dry out your hair more than it naturally is, you'll want to use plenty of moisturizing products.


When it comes to how straight you want your hair to be, there's a big difference between the two processes.

Relaxers are made to "relax" the curl. In many cases, women choose to relax their hair completely, resulting in bone straight tresses. This sometimes results in overprocessing and can leave the hair with less elasticity and little or no body.

Texturizers, on the other hand, are applied when you don't want all of the curl removed from the hair. Instead, they will loosen the natural curl pattern.

When done correctly, this process can turn thick, bulky hair into curly ringlets or give it a wavy texture. The difference lies in your natural texture. It's important to remember that hair should already contain S-shaped curls. Texturizers can't create a curly texture where it doesn't already exist.

Z-shaped curls do not texturize well at all, though they do respond well to relaxers. This is when you need to honestly assess your hair to get the best results. Texturizers simply give better "curly" results on some hair textures than others.

Switching Your Style

A lot of people who choose to texturize their hair do so because they want to easily switch between straight and curly/wavy styles.

You can use a curl-defining styling product for curly days and a straightening product for days you want it straighter.

Overall, having a texturizer makes many users feel that their tresses are more manageable. Plus, they can wear their mane straight when they're in the mood for it without having to worry as much about the reversion that typically happens with natural hair and a humid climate.


Qualified stylists who care about the health of their clients' hair can typically get consistent results with relaxers, and even texturizers, although the latter tend to be a bit trickier. While relaxers work well on S-shaped curls and Z-shaped curls, honest stylists should advise clients about unpredictable results from texturizers on Z-shaped textures.

For the best results, you should go to a professional stylist. Experience will help her determine which product is best for your hair and the results you're after. Getting either chemical process done at the salon will also help eliminate the risk of damage to your hair.