Texturizers, softeners...what are they? What should I use?

I don't want to straighten/relax my curls. I only want to make them slightly looser. I have (LOTS OF) 3b curls, but now that my hair is getting longer, it's becoming less and less manageable. Because of this, I want to loosen my curls....3a curls would be ideal, and 2c would be okay. So what exactly are softeners and texturizers? What is the difference between the two? How are they different from relaxers? And will I still have a curl pattern after using one of them, or will they just make my hair puffy? Thanks :)

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