What Does Hair Neutralizer Do?


When you hear the word "neutralize" it might make you think of an action and adventure movie. Neutralizing something in that way isn’t always a positive thing, but when it comes to hair, a neutralizing compound is definitely on your side. If you use chemical treatments often it’s not a bad idea to get a huge jug of the stuff to keep with your haircare supplies.

What is a Neutralizer?

A hair neutralizer is a special compound that contains oxidizing agents, such as hydrogen peroxide and other ingredients that stabilize the hair's condition. A stabilizer is just a fancy word for something that settles down the reaction of a certain type of chemical. In the case of hair styling the chemical is alkaline, acid, lye or a similar ingredient present in certain hair treatments.


Hair neutralizer has two main applications. One type of neutralizer is used in curly perms to make the curls permanent. Another type of neutralizer is a shampoo product that comes with relaxer perms. It helps balance the hair's pH after a chemical treatment while also cleaning the hair and scalp of relaxer residue. In short, neutralizers react with and counter the chemicals in some hair treatments.

Using After Treatments

To use the product with a permanent wave kit you must add the neutralizing compound to each hair rod as directed. When the rods are out you usually have to add even more neutralizer to ensure full coverage. As for a straightening relaxer, after rinsing out the cream you must add a dollop of neutralizing shampoo to your palm and manipulate it all over your head from root to tip. Repeat as directed. Most neutralizers have a color code system. For instance, pink means the chemical isn't neutralized yet and white means you’re good to go.

Why it’s Important

If you neglect to use neutralizer as directed in a perm or relaxer kit there is a risk of hair loss, weakening of the strands, or in the case of a perm the waves might not take. For this reason it's best to leave perming and relaxing up to the pros. In addition to stabilizing or setting the hair after a chemical treatment, a neutralizer sometimes acts as a conditioner. It helps make hard, brittle hair softer and more supple to the touch.

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