Relaxing Fine Curly Hair

Woman with fine curly hair
Photo: Sylv1rob1/Shutterstock
Q: I have very fine curly hair and my haircutter suggested that I let it grow and then have it relaxed. She said that it would look great. I am concerned that since my hair is so fine, it will fall out. Is relaxing hair dangerous?
A: The safety and results of ANY chemical hair service - whether it's color, perms, straightening, relaxers, or bleaching - depends largely on the skill of the stylist performing the process.
Having fine-textured hair, your hair will probably be more readily accepting the chemical processing and will process more quickly than more heavily textured hair would process. With a good, skilled stylist, relaxing is no more dangerous than perming the hair.
The good news is that there have been a wide-variety of advances in the science behind many cosmetology processes, resulting in the availability of gentler, more effective products which offer superior results to many of the older standard practices. Good examples of these are the Yuko System of straightening the hair (also called Japanese Thermal Reconstruction) and now, L'Oréal Professional's X-Tenso and Texturesmooth products which are designed to straighten curly hair and or smooth frizz and unruly curls.
Once again, even with the best products, the results depend largely on the skill of your stylist, so be sure to do some homework. Ask for references of clients who have had the same procedures you are recommended to have, or at least to see photos showing before and after, to give you an idea of the results you can expect.
If you have a good relationship with your stylist and know and trust his or her work, then you may want to simply trust him/her.
I will recommend that whatever you choose to do, you avoid hydroxide relaxers, since these chemicals permanently break the chemical side bonds in the hair in order to straighten it and remove curl.
This means that you will have a more difficult time regaining the curl of your hair if you choose to do so later. In fact, you will not be able to perm the hair after a hydroxide relaxer is used and will need to allow the relaxed hair to grow out and be cut away before perming can be safely performed.
See also:
Permanent hair straightening
What is Japanese Thermal Reconstruction?