Hair Softener vs. Relaxer

Relaxers get your hair looking sleek and straight.

Photo: Baerbel Schmidt/Digital Vision/Getty Images

With all the different hair products available in the beauty world, it's easy to get confused about them. For instance, you might not know the difference between a hair softener and relaxer. But in order to get your hair looking the way you want, you've got to use the right products. Or else you may end up with something you don't.

Hair Relaxers

Hair relaxers don't give your tresses a massage and lull them into a state of chilled-out bliss. Actually, they are used to make curly or otherwise unmanageable hair straight. African-American gals often use this product to get sleek and shiny strands. They are typically reapplied every six to eight weeks to keep new growth looking as straight as the rest of your mane.

Hair Softeners

Hair softeners are essentially what they sound like -- they soften your hair. They can make your hair soft and silky, or at least much softer than its current state. Gals with seriously coarse hair often find using this type of product calms down their tough tresses and coaxes them into feeling more silky and sheen.

How They Work

The term "relaxer" could make you think this product is soft and soothing; however, it is quite the contrary. Relaxers, also knows as perms, use harsh chemicals to straighten curly tresses out. These chemicals can even burn or damage your scalp if used improperly. Softeners, on the other hand, typically use natural ingredients to infuse your rough strands and get them feeling moisturized and hydrated. Look for products that contain olive or jojoba oil, which gives your thirsty strands something to drink and leaves them with a healthy-looking sheen.

Who Should Use Them

Gals that have hair that is so curly they can't do anything with it often benefit from relaxers. They are able to run a brush through their strands with no problem at all and can style their manes in ways that they can't with their curly hair. However, it makes your hair pretty fragile, which can result in breakage. Hair softeners are great for gals who wish their hair was more sleek and soft. Locks that feel rough or coarse often calm down and feel oh-so-amazing as a result of softener.

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