Difference Between Perms, Relaxers & Texturizers


With so many processing options in place for your hair, it's hard to know what to choose. In fact, sometimes the options are enough to make a girl want to throw up her hands and slip on a fabulous wig instead. But, if this isn't an option for you, it helps to know the differences between the main processed styles, which are perms, relaxers and texturizers. They might seem the same because they are all chemical-based and change the composition of your hair; however, the outcomes for each are different.

Chemical Differences

A perm consists of sodium thioglycolate that when used in conjunction with rods creates a lasting curly effect on the hair. However, relaxers and texturizers are composed of sodium hydroxide, which is known as a "lye" formula and is more potent, or guanidine hydroxide, which is marketed as "no lye" and is a less harsh grouping of chemicals. The differences between the latter are characterized by their outcomes on hair.

Processing Time

No matter which you choose, you might feel like you've been sitting in that stylist's chair for hours -- and with good reason. None of these processes are quick. A perm must be left on the hair for up to 30 minutes to get good results. A texturizer is generally left on the hair for 15 to 18 minutes, depending on the coarseness of the hair. A relaxer may be left on for up to 25 minutes, again depending on your hair.


Each of the three processes change the hair dramatically and all in different ways. Want curly locks that fall lusciously around your head? A perm is the way to go. Need to slightly relax the texture of your hair, creating loose waves instead of tightly coiled curls? Opt for a texturizer. Pining for super straight hair that swings around your head with major bounce? Brave the relaxing process.


No matter which process you choose, you are still dealing with dangerous chemicals. If possible, have a perm, relaxer or texturizer done by a trained, professional stylist to ensure proper application, processing time and care after the treatment has been applied. Understand the differences among the processes so that you can manage your expectations. For example, if you have super thick, super curly hair for example, you may need a relaxer instead of a texturizer for your hair. Should you decide on a texturizer anyway, understand that you might not get smooth, silky locks as you would with a relaxer.

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