The natural hair movement has been in full force for the last decade or more, women all over the world began tossing out their chemical laden treatments in favor of a natural lifestyle and wearing their natural hair textures. However new trends have also risen throughout this time period, giving women alternatives to the traditional relaxer. So far we have seen the texturizer treatment, Brazilian blowouts, diverse smoothing treatments and on a low and slow scale, the “texlax” technique.
What is Texlaxing?
Texlaxing involves using a relaxer system on one’s hair for a limited time, to process the hair at a lower level than the full relaxer system. This choice, like the others mentioned above are attractive to women who want to live a more natural lifestyle, want to keep a bit of their hair texture, or have concerns about wearing their hair relaxed or natural. This technique is typically considered a middle ground option.
Texlaxing vs. Relaxing
Relaxing the hair involves applying a cream to hair with texture or curl. The strong chemicals of sodium hydroxide and guanidine hydroxide penetrate the layers of the hair shaft to permanently break down the strongest bonds in the hair, also known as the disulfide (covalent) bonds, which ultimately break, loosen and straighten the curl patterns of the hair. The hair is then combed through to smooth the cuticle and the chemicals are left on the hair for a specified time to produce the desired results.
According to Creme of Nature "relaxing the hair has traditionally meant the process of straightening curly hair with a product formulated to break the disulfide bonds in the hair and realign them into a straight position, resulting in hair that is permanently straightened. Texturizing is defined as removing at least 60% of the hair's natural curl pattern."
While “texlaxing” uses the same chemicals, the process is slightly different. The time frame for texlaxing is usually complete in half the time of a relaxer. However, the process time is based on the desired texture of the hair, with longer processing for straighter hair and shorter for more textured hair. Some texlaxers choose to skip the “comb through” method all together, afraid that step may over-straighten the hair. The intent of texlaxing is to have manageable hair with less risk of damage or breakage.
UloveMegz, popular YouTuber and Blogger, chimes in on the conversation “I consider Texlaxing to be, purposely under-processing your hair during the relaxing process to leave some texture to your hair. It will not be bone, or super straight so you will have somewhat of a natural wavy texture, loosened by the chemical of the relaxer. I decided to texlax for more texture and volume. It is a process that any woman with 'textured' hair could consider.”
The Benefits & Risks
Both relaxing and texlaxing offer benefits and risks. The chemicals in the two processes can be damaging to the hair and require consistent, high caliber hair care. Regular deep conditioning treatments are necessary for strengthening the bonds and structure of the hair shaft. To minimize breakage in the two options it is important to remain on a maintenance schedule to minimize the tension at the line of demarcation, the point at which two different textures meet. This line can be a breaking point when not handled properly. Deciding to texlax or relax requires committeemen and when using chemicals it is highly recommended to see a licensed professional.
The benefits of Texlaxing include extra volume, more texture, and a new set of styling options utilizing relaxed and natural hair care techniques like flat twists and braid outs. The benefits of a relaxer include a smoother texture, enhanced manageability, and a different set of styling techniques like smooth roller sets and wraps.
Both options have value and risk. Therefore one’s hair type should be taken into account. Extremely fine hair may benefit from the gentler treatment of the texlaxer compared to the relaxer, whereas thick, hair could handle a relaxer if they chose, and if applied properly. With such a delicate decision requires time and research for making a firm decision. If you research the texlax methods and take into consideration your hair's true integrity, you can make the healthiest decision for you and your hair.
Are You Natural if You Texlax?
Natural hair is defined as wearing one’s hair in its natural state. Using chemical products to texlax the hair does permanently alter the state of the hair. According to UloveMegz, “I consider myself relaxed since I am still breaking down the natural bonds of my natural hair. Again, I do it to simply add volume to my fine hair." Women who choose this option won’t be in #teamnatural, but that’s okay. There is such a thing as #teamrelaxed. So, do what is best for you and be proud of the choices you make. Texlaxing does place you in a middle ground where you can wear both natural and relaxed styles with ease.