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Relaxer Vs. Straightening: Is It Better to Relax or Straighten Hair?

Different hair types have different rules, and unruly hair needs specific attention to be tamed.

However, we’ve done some analysis on hair straightening and relaxing and have found valuable information about their benefits and disadvantages.

In this article, we’ll detail the steps and the science behind each process so you can determine which is best for you and your hair.


What Is Hair Straightening?

straightening hair

Hair straightening exists on a broad spectrum of methods. It’s a process that you can perform in your own home or spend hundreds of dollars to have performed at a salon.

People have been straightening their hair since the 1890s by using hot flat irons to burn hair into a more uniform shape.

Now you can find flat irons in almost any home, and women routinely straighten their hair. This is the most common method for hair straightening, running an electric flat iron over your hair until it’s all straight. However, there are other, more permanent methods as well.

After you’ve flat ironed your hair, it will last a maximum of three or four days. That’s if you don’t wash it and are very careful. If you have a more curly hair type or don’t take close care of your hair, it will last even less time.  

For permanently straight hair, you can go to a salon for a chemical treatment. There are many different chemical treatments for straightening hair, but the most popular are Japanese hair straightening and a Brazilian blowout.

With the Japanese method, you will have permanently straight hair, only needed to reapply the treatment to freshly grown hair every six to ten months. With a Brazilian blowout, the treatment is not permanent and will last just ten to 12 weeks.

There are also home hair straightening kits, but their quality isn’t the best. Typically, they will keep your hair straight for a maximum of six weeks.


What Is Hair Relaxing?

relaxing hair

Unlike chemical straightening treatments, hair relaxing doesn’t directly straighten your hair. Instead, it makes the hair softer and more manageable. In this state, you can straighten your hair more efficiently or just reduce frizz and volume.

Hair relaxers work by breaking down the chemical bonds that keep hair kinked together, changing your hair’s texture.

After application, a good hair relaxer will keep your hair calm for about six to eight weeks. The process requires regular maintenance and additional treatment occasionally.

You’ll have to decide if you want to go to a stylist or do it at home. Doing it at home is manageable, but most specialists recommend going to a professional. A salon will know exactly what to do with your hair and what nutrients it needs to stay healthy after relaxing.

There are two types of hair relaxing: lye and no-lye relaxers. Which one is best for you will depend on your hair type and texture. Relaxers with lye work more quickly but also rinse out faster. No-lye relaxers will last longer but also run the risk of drying your hair out.


Pros and Cons of Hair Straightening

pros and cons of straightening hair

Now that we understand the methods let’s look at their benefits and negatives.


Quick Results (and No Salon Needed)

Hair relaxers are faster than most permanent straightening methods, but they can’t compete with at-home straightening. If your hair is manageable, then you can straighten it in a few minutes in front of the bathroom mirror. That’s a big difference compared to hours at a salon.


Can Keep Your Hair Permanently Straight

One of the biggest problems with unruly hair is how much time you spend trying to control it. With the Japanese method, you can regain control of your hair and save yourself from frustration permanently.



It Doesn’t Work with All Hair Types

Especially curly hair can have traumatic experiences with permanent straightening methods. Certain types of hair (like Afro-American hair) might have trouble adopting the treatment. If your hair is exceptionally curly, you will be better off with a relaxer and then straightening later on.


Pros and Cons of Hair Relaxing

pros and cons of relaxing hair

Here are the pros and cons of hair relaxing


Less intense treatment

Many hair treatments will require intense straightening, rinsing, and blow-drying. Most hair relaxing treatments just involve sitting with the product in your hair for a while and then rinsing it out. It’s much less invasive and time-consuming.


Hair Doesn’t Have to be Perfectly Straight.

When you have your hair relaxed instead of straightened, it gives you more style options. You can keep some of your curls or go completely straight.



Short Duration and Regular Treatments

While hair relaxing is practical, multiple trips to the salon can put a massive dent in your budget. Since the process only lasts six to eight weeks, you might find yourself paying your stylist thousands of dollars every year to keep your hair relaxed.


Is It Better to Relax or Straighten Hair?

We feel like there is no clear winner here. The method you choose for making your hair less curly is up to you. Choose a process that you’re comfortable with and suits your hair type.

Either way, we’re sure you’ll have a beautiful new look!