Why Do Women Still Use Relaxers? – A Retailer’s Perspective

Natural vs relaxed boxing match

We receive very interesting emails here at BHI and while most of them are your standard ‘help me make my hair better’ emails, every now and then we might get something strange enough that its worth sharing.

Below is an email sent to us from a relaxer company who shall remain nameless, take your time to read it, I have time, I’ll wait . . .

Why Do Women Still Use Relaxers?

Relaxers have been around since the early 60’s. With the look of straight hair, relaxers became a way of life for many women of color.  The introduction of relaxer kits, in the late 70’s, made it more convenient, cost-effective and safer for women to straighten their hair at home.  Despite the latest surge of natural hair trends, the true relaxer woman still stands her ground.  Be it her lifestyle, career or sheer vanity, she prefers her hair straight and relaxing her hair is the only solution to safe, lasting-straightness that can endure the office, the gym and downtime.  Relaxers remain the most effective way to achieve maximum permanent straightness while keeping the hair healthy, conditioned and manageable.

Why Do Women Still Relax?

  • Natural hair does not work for all women.

There are many women who have tried to go or thought about going natural.  In the end, some women have chosen not to make the transition.  Many reasons exist, for not making the transition, but a common one is that some women simply prefer their hair to be straight.  Are they wrong?  Absolutely not.

Oftentimes, the straightening process has been a part of women’s hair care regimen for many years.  Women, who relax their hair, are accustomed to its silky straight texture, bounce and movement.  They are very comfortable caring for their straight hair and enjoying a lifestyle that straight hair supports.

  • Styling versatility.

Not only do women with relaxed hair find it easier to exercise/work out, but they also feel that relaxed hair offers more styling versatility.  From ponytails to bone straight to wrap-and-go, relaxed hair offers the convenience and style some women desire.

  • Desire for healthy, strong hair.

Important factors to having healthy, strong hair with relaxers are to:  (1) choose the right product for your hair texture such as regular/super or lye/no-lye (2) follow application instructions (of the relaxer) exactly and (3) properly maintain the hair in between touch ups, such as getting ends trimmed and frequent deep conditioners.

For women who relax their hair, our Products offers the perfect solution!

  • the right amount of product, for new growth, at the right price,
  • a quality product that is safe to use at home, is gentle on the scalp & hair and provides superior strengthening with maximum conditioning,
  • unparalleled conditioning before, during and after the straightening process with its Triple Conditioning System,
  • ingredients, such as olive oil, that also “moisturizes” the hair

Done? My first thought was frankly that is the lamest most desparate attempt at justifying selling a product, I have ever seen. I think what got me going was when I read ‘enjoying a lifestyle that straight hair supports and ‘they also feel that relaxed hair offers more styling versatility’. Really!?? In comparison to what?

But then I read it one more time with less disdain in my mind and I realized albeit a weird way of articulating the benefits of a relaxer, they do make some great points. There are women out there who still choose to relax with great success proving that there can be some aesthetic benefit to relaxing your hair.

However adding any kind of credibility to relaxed hair should not be based on comparing it to natural hair; all that does is egg on an age old debate. Many have tried to put an end to the relaxed vs natural debate with no success, well it couldn’t hurt to try again. Here goes . . .

A relaxer is kind of like a Big Mac or Happy meal at McDonald’s weird I know, but hear me out. McDonald’s has been making burgers for years and they have been at the sharp end of the stick when it comes to obesity and other detrimental health issues due to the lack of nutrients in their food. Check any ‘America is way too Fat‘ documentary and you are bound to see a bright yellow arch with a clown next to it at some point. It is a fact that Big Macs make you fat, they aren’t good for you if they are your primary source of nutrition.

A relaxer like a fast food meal is not considered ‘good’ for your hair because the chemicals in the mixture alters the natural curl pattern of the hair permanently causing it to be straight. If you relax too often, or if you have even one bad relaxer experience you run the risk of causing severe damage to your hair leading to major hair loss much like the last burger that caused a heart attack.

Originally posted 2013-04-29 15:00:40.

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About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.


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  1. Elizabeth Clayton
    Elizabeth Clayton

    I also thought it sounded like a desperate attempt to keep their grasp on the customers they have, but to each his own. I myself have been without a relaxer for the past four years, and have found that my hair has grown more, and is so much healthier without one. Everyone’s experience is different though, but as for me I love making the decision to go natural.

  2. Andrea Anderson
    Andrea Anderson

    I used to relax my hair because I loved the smooth, straight look. Now I relax my hair but basically wash & wear, leaving it curly. ( my profile pic is from my straight days) I do this because straight hair for me is high maintainance w/never ending breakage. Relaxing it, then leaving it curly gives me a more natural look but is way easier to manage.

  3. Essence Wilcox
    Essence Wilcox

    I refusebto be 100% natural. .. now with that said I do now stretch out my perms I use to perm every month or the min i see new growth. …. now I stretch it out about 3 monthes …. thats the best I can do now my hair is armpit length

  4. Alma Garrett
    Alma Garrett

    I’ve been natural for 5 years , and wouldn’t go back to perm. MY hair is so healthy, strong & beautiful…. and I love it.#naturalbeauty

  5. Kourtney Boston
    Kourtney Boston

    I can’t see a reason to ever go back to relaxers. Knowing what it does to not only your hair, but your scalp, and the chemicals it releases into your body? No thanks. There are other less dangerous methods. HelI, even a texturizer is better than a full strength relaxer.

  6. Jamila Kelly
    Jamila Kelly

    Because it’s my choice and my hair? O.o oh but I guess that’s just not a good enough answer.

  7. Candace M. Chambers
    Candace M. Chambers

    Watch Chris Rock’ s Good Hair documentary. I dont want anything on my skin that will eat through a coke can and has a connection with causing fibroids. Compare the thickness of your hair over time and there is a difference. The relaxers thin it out. #chemicals

  8. Riff Spencer
    Riff Spencer

    My grandmother used to follow a regimen of wash, condition and hot comb every two weeks, grease my scalp every few days, and a relaxer every 6 months or so and my hair was ridiculously long and always growing out past my shoulders so it can work I think it’s about proper conditioning and not overdoing it with the chemicals

  9. Malakah Angellia Gladston
    Malakah Angellia Gladston

    Black Women still wear relaxer because they don’t believe they can be beautiful without it. MOST will deny this FACT (you can’t change what you don’t acknowledged) but if you dig REALLY deep you will find that black women who cannot accept their “natural self” have deep issues with self image.

    1. Wendy Jean-Louis
      Wendy Jean-Louis

      Ok miss Cleo I guess you can speak for everyone. People do things for many reasons. One it could be for that reason you said, it could be cuz they want a change, much cheaper than being natural these days, it’s less time consuming depending on hair texture, and another some people’s hair respond different to perm. My hair was the longest with perm and didn’t break because it was taken care if and instead of these over counter creams I used oils just like I do natural in my hair. Now I am natural I have all problems and breakage imaginable

    2. Vee Smith
      Vee Smith

      not this black woman. i love me and my relaxed hair cuz i can manage it better. has nothing to do wanting a look

    3. RaShondra Meggs Jessie
      RaShondra Meggs Jessie

      I went natural twice. It wasn’t for me. I have no issues with self image. I know a lot of women, whom were natural ( looked beautiful with their natural hair) , went back to relaxing their hair because I was told it was time consuming and products were expensive. Every style is not for everyone. People choose what works for them.

    4. Nikki

      Could you please provide a link to peer reviewed and accepted scientific research that substantiates your point….. if you aren’t making such a sweeping judgement from a statistical scientific perspective it’s just your opinion and not relevant to anyone’s experience but your own .

  10. Jeanne B.
    Jeanne B.

    I don’t have deep self image issues and get relaxers. It’s a woman’s choice what SHE CHOOSES to do with her hair. I have been both relaxed and natural not becsuse I hated myself but because I wanted to try something different with my hair. Being natural was hard for me to maintain so I went back to relaxers. My mom used to relax my hair, condition it, hot comb you name it and I had hair down my back. Women shouldn’t be ridiculed because of something they choose to do with their hair. I like both relaxed and natural hair no need to be a natural or relaxed nazi people…

  11. Ni-Ni Henderson
    Ni-Ni Henderson

    Because we can. That’s the short answer.

    If done correctly, you don’t have to worry about having no edges, thinning hair, breakage, over processing, scalp burns, etc. The CHOICE to relax your hair as an ADULT is NOT about someone doubting your beauty, being brainwashed, not connected to their “roots”, and all of this other foolishness that are always being flung in relaxed people’s faces. I LOVE the things I do to my hair, and relaxing it just happens to be one of those things. Natural this and natural that. All the same complaints and so-called issues newly ‘natural’ people list off as to why they stopped relaxing are many of the same reasons countless naturals walk around looking the same way, except without the use of chemicals. I have seen so many people with exceptionally thin natural hair that’s in a fro and dreaded up and hanging on literally by a strand of hair, looking crazy!

    My point is if you don’t know how to care for your hair in whatever state you choose to wear it in, it can still be worse off in the end.

    And even if everyone was wearing their hair in it’s natural state, there would still be just as much judging going on as it is now.

    I knew this was a waste of my time before composing it, but hey…LET THE JUDGEMENT AND HATRED OF OTHERS CHOICES CONTINUE AS USUAL!!!


  12. Ronnie Mapp
    Ronnie Mapp

    I relax my hair because I’m a grown woman and its my decision to do whatever I want with MY hair. I have a weekly hair regimen that I stick to and my hair is healthy I’m two inches from reaching bra strap length (and I have all my edges!) I love every bit of my relaxed hair! I’m tired of the natural vs relaxed arguments/discussions …the only hair you need to worry about is yours and yours only! No need to ridicule people because their hair isnt like yours smh!!

  13. Stephanie Evans
    Stephanie Evans

    I have very long, thick relaxed hair (mid back/ past bra hooks). I love natural as well as permed. Now I choose not to go natural because it takes more work for me to maintain. Relaxed it takes 45 min for me to blow dry. Natural probably 1 1/2 hours. I can’t keep my arms above my head that long due to pain. So self twisting, braiding & such would be out! But I don’t knock our beautiful versatile hair. I love it all how ever You want to wear it. When people condemn others it says more about their self image than my own.

  14. Celeste Jackman
    Celeste Jackman

    I think people use it because they want to.there is nothing wrong with a relaxer if thats what a woman wants and nothing wrong with keeping it natural if thats what she wants

    1. Andie

      That’s right Celeste. I relaxed mine for years and had a bad dandruff problem. My 20 something daughter convinced me to stop. We both have long thick hair and I relaxed because it was so much more manageable – but oh the transition…now that was something else. Everyone was saying girlll you’re gonna have to cut it off. Well, I didn’t. I started found a new stylist who told me that my hair never needed a relaxer and asked me why did I ever do that. I started getting a flat iron/condition/trim every 3 weeks and after about a year the relaxer was gone. Now, no more dandruff, no more sitting for hours, more $ in my pocket. I go about every 4-6 weeks for shampoo/style and everyone thinks I have a relaxer and my hair grows like weeds – healthier looking than ever before. I add a pea-size drop of olive oil to it every now and then and wear a bonnet at night. BUT we have to remember it is everyone’s personal choice and everyone has a different hair texture which makes a whole of difference. I don’t regret having relaxed my hair before everyone should just do what they want, it’s their head lol!

  15. Celeste Jackman
    Celeste Jackman

    Malakah Angellia Gladston that is your opinion but wrong.i may go back to a relaxer.been without for almost 6 years since last having one and i can be beautiful without but i like the maintenance of the relaxer.ans i dont have self esteem issues.sometimes its just not that deep

  16. Raquel Lovez Art
    Raquel Lovez Art'class

    Omg you guys are sooo hateful I mean really. If people want to get relaxers let em do it!!!!!! How is that any of you guys concern? I’m Natural now to but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna criticize the people who still want relaxers. Jesus Christ

  17. Tammie Faulkner Taylor
    Tammie Faulkner Taylor

    The same reason we use deodorant, perfume, body spray, arch our eyebrows, trim/wax/shave our pubic hair, under arms and legs, use scented body wash, use makeup, over eat, don’t exercise enough, drinks sodas, use microwaves, & all of these things that aren’t “natural” & “are dangerous to our bodies”. ( the irony of a smoker, an over weight person or a person that has had any type of unprotected sex with ANYONE other than her husband, trynna tell someone about what’s unhealthy for their bodies is so ironic and hypocritical, its hilarious)
    I guess the short answer is “Because that’s what the hell they feel like doing”, but that wouldn’t be appropriate.
    *big cheesy smile*

  18. Tammie Faulkner Taylor
    Tammie Faulkner Taylor

    IF “relaxed women hate themselves because they don’t feel they can be beautiful with one” , means that women wear lipstick and any other type of makeup for the same reason, right?
    Of course not. “That’s ‘different’ !

  19. Marneek Jones
    Marneek Jones

    Rolling my eyes…here we go…Black women still wear relaxed because its called “freedom of choice”…Relaxing your hair is not a form of self hatred no more than being natural means u luv yourself..( and im natural) to each their own…

  20. Taylor Arianna
    Taylor Arianna

    Because it is our choice. Its not a factor of self hate like some people just love to believe. It is a choice. I will love myself regardless of the texture of my hair. Heck sometimes I rod my hair to make a little fro. I just like versatility and a relaxer gives me that. I don’t knock people for being natural. We’re all beautiful. But the answer is simple. Because we want to.

  21. Becky Boo
    Becky Boo

    Ive been natural for so long only a week or so i put a relaxer on my curls not coz i hate my hair just coz i wanna change my style i tried flatiron but everytime a bit of water or sweat coz its hot outside my hair would change back to its natural curl. And im not gonna wear wigs or weaves to have a straight do & no i dont relax 24/7 just once and again… I say do what you want to your hair.

    1. Robin Samanthia H

      I agree. I love some natural looks, but I love healthy hair….period! I’m not a follower, and I basically do what I want to do.

  22. Kali Mahogany Price
    Kali Mahogany Price

    The answer to top all answers is because WE WANT TO….yet some judgmental sisters sport straight hair weaves in their profiles. There is no denial of who relaxed sisters are ad there is no way you become “blacker” by being natural. Can we please quit.

  23. Ebony Mickell
    Ebony Mickell

    Damn! Hella relaxed women are touchy as hella about the fact that they have perm. LOL! Writing whole books on a status

  24. Cay James

    This is just another candy coated indictment of a woman’s choice to relax her hair….

    And just for the record….. as for your comment that,”Choosing to relax is a style choice while wearing your hair in its natural state ……..isn’t a choice a trend or a style.” Here’s the thing…. having a choice is the same thing as an option and the INSTANT that we had another choice, another mode of versatility, then keeping your hair natural DID become a choice.

    That is all.

  25. Nesha Brittwood

    Why do people worry about what other people do with their hair or what they do period? It’s nobodies business. People love bashing others for what they do with their hair or what someone does in general. If everyone minded their business when they needed to, the world would be a better place.

  26. Stacey Dave

    My hair to thick break my arm every day an every night i am a loctician and natural hair stylist exclusively thas WHY I WEAR PERM…

  27. Ashley Ruiz

    This is such a stupid article. You claim you’re trying to end the “age old debate” and then you give some backward, half-hearted ass post to why relaxers aren’t all bad. You could read the “relaxer hate” in the tone that this was written. You’re just further perpetrating the the natural vs. Relaxed hair debate and frankly, why do you feel the need to even discuss what anyone else wants to do with their hair. Why do non-relaxed women always feel the need to campaign to get relaxed women to cross over? This page is so annoying sometimes.

    1. Tamura D Alston

      You are so right ….this is not a competition…..having a relaxer doesnt make me less of woman…..

  28. Loren Sims

    Why does there always have to be a natural or relaxed debate. If your hair is healthy then your doing good either way. It’s not that serious

  29. Shavonne R. Boyd

    The question is why are we comfortable putting a chemical that can seep through our skin and cause severe damage to the body on our heads?

    1. Adesjola Tucker

      Who do you know relaxes her hair every three to four weeks? ANY beautician will tell you to have a retouch done IF THE PERSON CHOOSES no sooner than 6 weeks. That’s just dumb!

  30. Tae Moore

    To each is own! I relax my hair because I want to! Much easier to comb and Manage! Like BOBBY BROWN said ITS MY PREROGATIVE! LOL

  31. Stacey Lawrence

    People are always going to find something to be divided over. Why can’t people just live and let live?

  32. Brielle Winter

    Although i haven’t used one for over 10 years, some people need them, because there hair is really thick and can maintain it better

  33. Shelly Forde

    I agree with the email from the relaxer company except for the versatility and that’s only because I am comparing it to natural hair. When my hair was relaxed I couldn’t simply wash it to get back to my kinks and coils. But when I straighten my hair it lasts long enough that I can try straight hair styles for a while. But in the end I say do what makes you happy and forget society’s expectations and demands.

  34. Erica Ransom

    I’ve done both. I prefer relaxed bc I can relax it once every 3 months and all I have to do is wash and condition it once a week, wrap and go. Absolutely zero other products to maintain my hair. I liked my natural look but it was waaaay to high maintenance and waaaay too much product every day.

    1. Joycelyn Cannon

      I guess it depends. My styles week to week. I wash once or twice weekly depending in what my hair needs and let my hair air dry. Styling is minimal as the only thing I do in the morning is spritz to refesh the curls or take down my twist. Being relaxed for 25 up to the last 3 when I went natural……….natural hair is soooo much easier for me to maintain. But its all a matter of preference 🙂

  35. Rhonda Johnson-Cole

    Natural hair vs relaxed hair reminds me of light skinned vs dark skinned. I am a professional hairstylist that works with both. So tired of all the comparison.
    It’s about healthy hair weather its natural ir relaxed. I have seen unhealthy natural and relaxed hair and healthy natural and relaxed hair. Can we all just get along.

    1. Jamie Carter-Bailey

      Exactly, we hate being compared by others but have no problem comparing ourselves to one another, beating down the next.

  36. Rivian Jones

    Why even start this its all about preference duh!!! Natural hair is alot of work for me and relaxers are low maintenance.

  37. Lee

    Self service that fell short. There was never any after action instructions included with any products I used in the past, therefore I never quite totally achieved the results I wanted, growth/length. Oh it probably grew some, but not where I wanted it. Fine hair became finer, thinner in density and just barely reached my shoulders. Now natural, with all the myriad instructions on conditioning, moisture, and styling my hair has attained, from a twa, the lenth and thickness in a year that I had when it was relaxed lo those many years of ignorant neglect. I love the decision, in desperate laziness, to stop relaxing and opt for time consuming healthy hair.

  38. Tina Waters

    It’s because, THEY WANT TO!
    Why do women continue to wear high heels? Again, THEY WANT TO. The list goes on and on…..

  39. Tina Waters

    Hair product companies create this divide between relaxed and natural so they can sell more products.
    They repackage their product for “natural hair” and “relaxed hair” in order to raise sales. Nobody gives a crap what we do or don’t do with our hair. People are about making money. Our hair makes billions for a lot of companies so nobody can afford to end this debate!

  40. Tiffani Bates

    The real question is why do we allow the natural and perm topic to cause division between us women? It’s a choice!! I’m sure there are women who are natural who
    put things in their bodies that are not heathy just like some with perms. If we could stop hatin on each other and lift each up think of where we could be.

  41. Tamura D Alston

    As a relaxed professional hair stylist who enjoys working w my naturals.I say do you….what works for me may not work for you.I believe the relaxer vs natural battle is another thing to keep black people divided! I am
    relaxed, my 11 year old daugther is natural should me and her argue over who is more beautiful??!At the end of day relaxed or natural….we are more than our hair! As woman lets stop letting society tear us apart.

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