Chemical Straightening Services Breakdown for Natural Hair

chemical straightening

Chemical straightening services have been around for years. However, not many people know the differences between them. As a licensed professional it is imperative to know these services. As a consumer it is equally important to know what these services are if you choose to no longer be natural, or just want to be knowledgeable of what service you are actually getting. If you are on the fence about transitioning out of a previous chemical service here’s some information to help you decide what is best for you.

This post is to inform. At the end of day healthy hair that makes you feel beautiful is always the right choice. I have been on both sides but ultimately growing out my natural hair was the best choice for me.

Here is a list of common chemical services and what they do.

Chemical Straightening Services

Chemical hair relaxers like Sodium and Thioglycolate straighten hair by breaking the disulfide bonds found within the cortex layer of the hair.

Sodium Hydroxide (Sodium)

Sodium Hydroxide is a lye based relaxer most commonly used on textured hair. It permanently removes/alters the natural curl pattern. Sodium Hydroxide relaxers are high on the PH scale. Using a neutralizer is a must after processing to maintain the integrity of the hair. Sodium relaxers come in base or no base formulas. A no base means there is scalp protection in the formula. Even though it is not necessary to add a scalp protector, using a protector around the perimeter of the hairline and ears are common safety precautions.

Use caution when getting color services as they are not recommended.

Ammonium Thioglycolate (Thio)

Thio relaxers permanently removes/alters the natural curl pattern of the hair by straightening it with the chemical. When an oxidizing agent is used as a neutralizer(hydrogen peroxide or sodium bromate), this reforms the disulfide bonds that were broken during processing. This chemical is not as high on the PH scale as sodium.  

Though the application method is different, Thio is also used for permanent waving and curly perms. You can color your hair with less damage concerns than sodium.


 A Tex-lax is intentionally under processing the hair or leaving a relaxer on for a short amount of time just to loosen the curl patten a little.    


Of all these treatments, the only treatments that you can transition out of without cutting off previously processed hair are keratin base treatments. I would suggest a protective style like braids or wigs if you want to avoid a big chop.

Big chop

Cutting all previously processed hair to regrow it naturally is a big chop, for those who are unaware. The growing out process can be a journey.

Other methods

These chemical methods are more commonly used on looser texture hair.

Japanese Straightening

Japanese straightening is similar to a relaxer. It is the process of applying several chemicals and straightening the hair in between to get a pin straight look. The client should not wash their hair after the service for serval days as the straightening process continues after salon application.  

Brazilian Blowout

A Brazilian Blowout is more versatile. Bonds are not broke like in the other permanent methods. Brazilian Blowouts contain a percentage of formaldehyde and keratin. This helps prevent frizz and allows the hair to curl back or remain straight. The use of formaldehyde has been a concern for those looking to get the service.  

Keratin Treatment

This treatment is similar to the Brazilian Blowout. Keratin treatments temporarily straighten hair by use of keratin wrapped around the hair strands. Hair temporarily is straight but can revert back.    

There are lots of new straightening methods on the market but these are the most common. It is important to do your research on the brand and chemicals that are being used for a service you are interested in. 
How do you prefer to wear your hair? Have you done any type of chemical straightening?

Thanks for hanging out!
XO Terreana

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