First things first: No one needs a hair relaxer—but if you want one, you definitely shouldn’t feel embarrassed about it. Ever since the natural hair movement blew up on the internet—which, FYI, is a great thing—some people might feel a little ashamed when it comes to relaxing their hair, or even thinking about relaxing their hair. But I’m here to tell you that the decision to relax your hair is 100 percent personal. Only you know what’s best for you, and if that means trying a relaxer, you shouldn’t be afraid to go all out. And if you’re looking for the best at-home relaxer to try RN, you’re in luck. Keep reading for everything you should know, plus, the best kits worth your $$$.
What does relaxer do to your hair?
If you want straighter hair for whatever reason (maybe you always flat-iron your hair anyways or you want to get your hair wet without stressing about your natural texture), a hair relaxer is def an option to consider. Reminder: Relaxers are cream- or lotion-based formulas that chemically—and permanently—break down the bonds in your hair to alter its structure, leaving it straight for up to eight weeks.
Here’s the thing, though: Getting your hair relaxed by a professional is typically the best option, especially since relaxers are filled with super-intense chemicals that can lead to breakage and burning if used incorrectly. That means if you’ve never, ever tried a relaxer before, maybe don’t experiment with it at home for your first time. That said, if you already relax your hair at the salon and just need to retouch your new growth, today’s generation of at-home relaxers can get the job done, leaving your hair sleek, healthy, and hydrated.
What is the best hair relaxer?
I get it: There are so many DIY relaxers on the market right now that it’s kinda hard to figure out which ones actually work. Other than picking the right formula (which, DW, I got you), the key to avoiding any damage is to make sure you actually read the directions on the box (duh) and that you pick a relaxer that’s best suited for you and your needs. Don’t know where to start? Peep the 12 best hair relaxers of all time, below.
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Best Hair Relaxer for Dry Hair
Mizani Butter Blend Relaxer Medium Normal Kit
Some relaxers can really dry out your hair, which is basically a recipe for disaster (especially if your hair is naturally a bit parched). But this hair relaxer is packed with a hydrating blend of shea butter, cocoa butter, and honey, giving your hair a shot of moisture that’ll last long after you rinse it out.
Best No-Lye Hair Relaxer
Just For Me No-lye Regular Conditioning Creme Relaxer Kit
Even though this hair relaxer is technically for kids, trust me when I say it works just as well on adult hair. Because this relaxer is no-lye, the active ingredient is calcium hydroxide instead of sodium hydroxide. No-lye relaxers are perf if you want something a little gentler or if you have a sensitive scalp.
This hair relaxer isn’t harsh on your hair, but it’s still strong enough to leave your texture straighter. It also comes packed with all the goods—coconut milk, shea butter, vitamin E, and sunflower oil—to give you extra protection from dryness and breakage.
Best Hair Relaxer for Sensitive Scalps
Avlon Affirm Fiberguard Sensitive Scalp Relaxer
FYI, it’s 2020 and scalp irritation is no longer a necessary evil that comes with getting your hair relaxed. This one gets the job done, while also being super gentle on your scalp. Plus, it doesn’t have that intense chemical smell, so it’s truly a win-win.
Best Budget Hair Relaxer
Ors Olive Oil No-Lye Normal Hair Relaxer
Hair relaxers can come at a steep price (I mean, they are pretty intense chemicals, so it makes sense) but you can still find a quality relaxer for basically no money. And because olive oil is the MVP in this product’s formula, you won’t have to sacrifice any softness or moisture to get your hair straight.
Best Hair Relaxer for Shiny Hair
SoftSheen-Carson Dark and Lovely Healthy-Gloss No-Lye Relaxer
Say it with me: No more relaxers that suck the life out of your hair. This formula reads like a recipe for healthy, moisturized hair—there’s protein, shea butter, avocado oil, and jojoba oil to give you the glossy look you’re going for. Plus, this kit comes with a shine cream and silk keratin serum to keep your hair shiny for days.
Best Strengthening Hair Relaxer
Optimum Care by SoftSheen Carson Care Defy Breakage No-Lye Relaxer
Sure, the phrase “strengthening hair relaxer” might sound like an oxymoron, but I swear this formula is actually legit. The magic is in the ceramides—an ingredient you may recognize from your moisturizer, but when it’s placed in hair products, it works to keep your hair cuticle flat. And when your cuticles are flat, your hair is stronger, less prone to damage, shinier, and smoother.
Best Hair Relaxer for Flyaways
Motions Smooth & Straighten Hair Relaxer
IMO, loading up on a ton of products isn’t the key to keeping frizz and flyaways at bay—it all starts with the foundation, which means you need a hair relaxer that imparts a ton of moisture on your hair to keep everything in place. Thanks to the mix of shea butter, argan oil, and coconut oil, this relaxer does just that.
Beautiful Textures Naturally Straight Texturizer Kit
If you’re looking for something to loosen your curls instead of completely straightening them, you may want to opt for a texturizer. There aren’t any chemical differences between the two treatments—texturizers are just left on for a shorter amount of time than relaxers. With this brand’s formula, the combo of shea butter and hydrolyzed soy protein will make your curls super bouncy, shiny, and happy.
Best Hair Relaxer for Fullness
Linange Alter Ego Shea Butter Cream Relaxer
Instead of leaving your hair flat, limp, and brittle, this hair relaxer loosens up your texture without taking away any volume or fullness. The formula (which is also full of shea butter and coconut oil—sensing a trend?) will make your hair so silky, bouncy, and full of body, you’ll basically belong in a hair commercial.
Best Hair Relaxer for Thick, Coarse Hair
Revlon Professional Regular Conditioning Creme Relaxer
While this hair relaxer is powerful (seriously, your thick hair doesn’t stand a chance), it won’t dry out or break off your hair. In fact, it does just the opposite—the formula straightens and conditions your hair gently, making it softer and smoother than you ever imagined it could be.
Best Hydroxide-Free Hair Relaxer
Okay, so you know how basically every hair relaxer is either lye or no-lye? Well, this one is neither. Yup—the formula is hydroxide free. Instead, it uses an egg and soy based formula to straighten your hair, keratin to strengthen and smooth everything out, and mallow extract to leave it super touchable. This is a great option if you have a sensitive scalp, or if you’re over using intense chemicals on your hair.
Best Hair Relaxer for Fine Hair
Softsheen Carson Precise No-Lye Original Relaxer Twin Pack
Perfect for fine to medium textures, this one-step mild relaxer is way easy to use and way less intense on your hair than a regular relaxer. There’s also a built-in conditioner in the formula that hydrates TF out of your hair by targeting dry spots.
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