Wednesday, 8 February 2012

'Natural' Relaxers/ Perms...what's the deal?? Part 1

Recently, on my travels through blog-land, and also my frequent trips to youtube-city, I've been hearing a lot of chit chat about natural relaxers. These are products people hope will have a similar effect to relaxers, but sans the chemicals. Yes, you too can finally get bouncin' and behavin' hair minus the burns, weird smell and corrosive toilet cleaner strength liquid. Or can you?

I'm initially skeptical about this. Firstly because our hair, although fragile, isn't prone to changing from lovely coils and ringlets to sleek straightness without something rather strong - whether that be heat or chemicals. I wouldn't say that I'm a product junky - it's not my crack, but I have tried out a couple of things, and nothing, be that natural or petroleum laden, has ever been able to alter my curl that dramatically.
Secondly, because this is AGAIn feeding into the idea that our hair texture needs to be 'fixed'. The problem with relaxers is not just the dangerous chemicals, but also the insidious insinuation (like that one?), that 'nappy' hair is unattractive, man-repelling, unmanageable mess that can be changed with a magical box of goo.

Despite this, I'm willing to investigate a little before writing them off. So let's take a look at the claims of some of these natural relaxers.First off, the Bodiphier,  a 'natural' relaxer that can be bought  at It says "the BodiPhier cannot make hair look "totally straight" like relaxers do", but it can give you "soft, manageable, bouncy hair..the new way to relax hair". Hmmm. Ok. Let's check out the ingredients:

BodipHier Ingredients: Purified Alkaline Water, 100% Natural Soda Ash & Minerals, 100% Natural Citric, 100% Natural Menthol, Cetyl Wax, Emulsifying Wax, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Lanotrol, Volpo 10, Methyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben, 100% Natural Protein Powder, Shea Butter, 100% Natural Protein Oil, 100% Natural Soy Bean Oil, and Fragrance. 

This looks fairly innocent. The claim that it's not as harsh as normal relaxers is true..there s no sodium hydroxide or something of a similar strength. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean it's good for your hair. The first ingredient, alkaline water is definitely not 100 percent safe. The Beauty Brains, a scientific website that investigates beauty products says  "The key active ingredient is soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate, which is an alkaline material used in a variety of industrial applications from food preparation to pool sanitization. Sodium carbonate raises the pH of the product and allows it to soften the chemical bonds that connect the protein fibrils in hair. Once these chemical bonds are broken, or relaxed, the hair becomes straighter....Bodiphier’s pH is 12, which is a bit lower than most relaxers that tend to be 12 to 13."

So basically, it's a weak relaxer. So basically, it's too good to be true.

However, there are other natural relaxer companies that make similar claims...I'll investigate these more in part two. Until then, be careful! Just because something claims to be natural, doesn't mean that it is - do your research.

Peace, Love and Hair Grease folks xx

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