The difference between relaxed and natural hair is more than just the use of chemicals. When Covid-19 pandemic started, the salon closures forced women to find DIY hair management methods. Some used this opportunity to try new styles, such as transitioning from relaxed to natural hair or embracing gray hair.
Unfortunately, competitiveness and judgment are prevalent among women, with natural hair ladies judging relaxed hair ladies, and vice versa. Many grew up believing that “good hair” is straight hair without tight curls or kinks, leading to a division between #teamnatural and #teamrelaxed.
Ultimately, the focus should be on maintaining healthy hair, regardless of whether it’s natural or relaxed. Both types of hair can be damaged, so the priority should be on keeping your hair healthy and avoiding judgments based on personal preferences.
Natural Hair Vs. Relaxed Hair: What’s Better for Me?
|Reduced detangling time, daily moisturizing
|Daily moisturizing, regular washes
|Hair & Scalp Health
|Risk of scalp sores, burns, inflammation, and breakage
|Requires nourishing products, minimal heat exposure for healthy hair
|Neither grows faster; relaxer damage can impact growth
|Growth depends on genetics and hair care habits
|Limited to straight hair
|Countless styling options; versatile
|Regular professional treatments or at-home kits
|Generally cheaper; trial and error with products
Difference Between Natural Hair and Relaxed Hair
In this article, we will discuss the distinctions between relaxed and natural hair, delve into the history of black hair, and explore its evolution up to the present day. If you’re undecided about transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair or vice-versa, the insights provided here may help you make a more informed decision or reinforce your current choice.
First let’s highlight the pros and cons of both natural hair and relaxed hair:
|– Easier to manage
– Easier to style
– Ease of styling
– Easy to manage
|– More prone to damage
– Easily prone to damage
– Hair breakage
– Over processing
|– Less prone to damage
– Healthy hair
– Hair growth
|– Harder to maintain and style
– Time consuming
Natural Hair vs. Relaxed Hair Structure
Chemical creams or lotions create relaxed hair by breaking down the hairs’ natural curl pattern and overall texture, leaving the hair with a sleek, straight appearance. This chemical alteration allows hair to hold styles longer, and you don’t have to worry about hair expansion in humid weather.
Natural hair can be stronger and healthier than relaxed hair because chemicals haven’t stripped it. Natural hair fibers have better volume, bounce, and body than relaxed hair. Hair in its natural state has a higher level of elasticity which helps fight breakage.
Daily Care and Management
If you’ve experienced both natural and relaxed hair care, you would probably agree that relaxed hair is easier to manage. Relaxed hair is less prone to tangles and knots, so you don’t have to spend as much time detangling on wash day, and it’s easier to comb daily.
Healthy relaxed hair is possible when you condition your hair regularly, occasionally use a deep condition, and keep your hair moisturized. You’ll want to stay away from heat as much as possible, using low heat when necessary.
We advise that you should see a professional for chemical treatments to avoid any mistakes or over-processing if you can afford to.
Natural hair is prone to tangling and knotting on itself, making it time-consuming to detangle, comb, and style your hair. However, if you choose to wear a protective style like braids, you have an easier hair care routine compared to relaxed hair.
Whatever style you choose to wear your natural hair, you’ll need a good hair routine to keep your hair healthy and flourishing.
Natural hair is nonporous. The hair cuticle is closed, so it repels everything. If you want to color your natural hair, you’re going to need a semi-permanent or permanent color. You’re going to need a developer to open the cuticle so the color will take. While some say that hair that is colored isn’t natural, you should know that permanent color doesn’t damage hair the same way relaxers do.
On the other hand, relaxed hair is porous and will soak up color, oils, and moisturizers with ease. If you want to color your relaxed hair, look for semi-permanent or temporary hair color.
If you’re going to color your grays, check out vegetable dyes. You don’t want to over-process your hair that will lead to damage and possible hair loss.
Relaxed hair requires the application of a relaxer every 12 weeks. While you can purchase a relaxer kit and do it at home for under $50, we highly recommend you find a professional to relax your hair. You may want to budget for an occasional deep condition hair treatment and trim as well.
If you’ve transitioned to natural hair, finding hair care products that work with your natural hair can involve a lot of trial and error. When trying a product for the first time, it’s best to buy it from a store with a return and exchange policy so that you can return the products that don’t work the way you want them to.
Natural or Relaxer Hair: It’s Up to You
The real difference between natural hair and relaxed hair depends on whom you ask. For some women, wearing the choice to wear their hair in its natural state is a statement of self-love and acceptance. For others, it’s a sign of resistance against what some feel is a European-centric view of beauty.
Some women that choose to relax their hair do it for convenience. They don’t want to invest the time needed to care for their hair in its natural state. It has nothing to do with self-hate or wishing to appear to be White.
For far too long, women of color have felt that they had to assimilate to be accepted or respected, whether professionally or while pursuing an education. No one should feel like they have to look a certain way to be viewed as employable or competent. We also need to stop judging each other for our personal choices. Let’s focus on what we have in common instead of our differences.
We can’t expect others to accept us for who we are when we struggle to do it within our communities. We have to find a way to release the mindset that tells us that natural hair is unkempt or will prevent us from advancing in our careers. Things will start shifting when we demand that they do.
Many of us grew up believing that our hair defines our beauty. It’s time to ask ourselves if we’re willing to continue enforcing that belief even if it doesn’t serve us, or are we ready to raise a new generation of young women who love themselves and each other, regardless of what they choose to do with their hair?
It’s time to stop letting what we do with our hair define us—choosing to relax your hair or keep it in its natural state is a personal choice. The only opinion that should matter is your own. Wear your hair however you choose and do it with pride!
Whether it’s a personal preference or a political statement, women of color have had to deal with how others perceive their hair if they choose to wear it in a style that isn’t considered mainstream.