Relaxers for African-American Hair

Relaxed African hair
Photo: Rudo film/Shutterstock
Q: I have used a product called Curl Free Hair Relaxer for about 18 years. The primary ingredient in the relaxer is Ammonium Bisulfate. It was manufactured by Gillette. It has recently been discontinued. This relaxer was gentle to my hair and allowed versatility for me. I like to wear straighter styles but also like to wear my hair with a more natural curl.
I am African-American but my hair does not have a very tight kinky texture. The relaxer loosened the kink enough for me to manage and wear a variety of styles. Without it my hair is more difficult to manage and frizzes. Can you suggest an alternate relaxer/straightener?

A: Well, you obviously want to avoid using any lye-based hair relaxers, so that was where I began my search, yet even among the relaxer products listed as "no-lye" relaxers, many have chemical ingredients that are just as harsh to the hair. I do want to point out that we at Hairfinder, do not endorse any particular brand or product, so that we can assure you an objective viewpoint from which to give advice.
That having been said, the following are products that may suit your needs:
New Era has a line of hair relaxers that use Ammonium Bisulfate as their primary ingredients. The New Era Platinum Clear Gel Hair Relaxer Kit can be found at most beauty supply stores or shopped for online.
Fresh Look Products, Inc. offers their BodipHier hair straightening system, which straightens the hair using an Alkaline Water formula, which is reported to be very gentle to virtually all hair types. These products may be found in some beauty supply stores, but is clearly available from their online shop.
There are also a wide variety of "no-lye" products on the market, but even those listed as "no-lye" may contain hydroxide formulas which can be caustic and damaging. If you cannot find another product to use, I recommend you look among the "no-lye" relaxer formulas for those that include deep conditioning as a part of the formulation and even consider using those formulas designed for use on children's hair, in order to take advantage of the especially gentle formulation.
See also:
Hair straightening and relaxing
African American hair and Japanese thermal hair straightening
What is the difference between a traditional relaxer, Japanese and Brazilian straightening?