What do women want in a hair relaxer product? Most will cite some combination of hair care, styling and texturing, meaning they are not necessarily satisfied with their natural hair type and want to shape it differently.
Because many hair relaxers are chemical based, consumers mistakenly assume the potential for damage or pain to be part of the tradeoff; a risk they must take in order to effectively straighten their hair and achieve the desired look. Not true!
At What Cost? Common Chemical Complaints
Hair relaxers typically contain sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also known as lye. This corrosive ingredient is able to cut through curls by deeply penetrating the hair but can become harmful when used in high concentration. It is the driving force behind the consensus recommendation that consumers leave hair relaxing to professional stylists rather than trying to DIY at home.
An improper relaxer treatment can cause scalp burning or sores when left to sit too long. Perhaps the worst myth about hair relaxing is that the consumer should feel the tingle or burn. Ouch. Wrong. Stop.
In addition to scalp discomfort—and completely counterproductive to the goal—chemical relaxers are sometimes responsible for hair dryness, breakage and thinning. The result is a never-ending cycle of hair moisturizers, special shampoos and conditioners, and routines that simply don’t work.
No Lye: Formulating a Safer Solution
Informed consumers are cautious about strong chemicals in texture transformation and ready to try alternatives made with milder chemicals or, better yet, natural ingredients. Market research firm IRI found that 64 percent of consumers purchase natural or organic beauty and personal care products in order to avoid unnecessary chemicals.
The first step to a safer hair relaxer, of course, is to remove sodium hydroxide. Yet, some brands will replace lye with other, equally damaging chemicals such as calcium hydroxide. Instead of continuing on the path of what is wrong with these relaxers, we’re going to turn the focus to a Sensient Cosmetic Technologies solution: Sensistyle® Curl Relaxer. Using the enzymes found in pineapple and papaya, this naturally derived product relaxes most curl types by softening and nourishing hair to gently reduce volume.
Bromelain in Pineapple
The potential health benefits of bromelain, found in pineapple, are significant in hair care formulations. Bromelain is believed to reduce inflammation, which can help with dermatitis and other skin conditions affecting the scalp. It is also praised in promoting hair growth, as the enzyme assists with the digestion of protein (an essential nutrient for healthy hair). It’s important to note that these suggested benefits are not conclusive, although we do have our own research suggesting our formula with bromelain is effective in controlling, defining and styling hair shape for an extended time period.
Papain in Papaya
Synergistic with bromelain is papain, another enzyme known to break down proteins. Sensient extracts papain from raw papaya for its many suggested hair benefits, which include softening, smoothing, and growth. Some even believe papaya consumption acts as a natural conditioner. The reason we prioritize hair growth in a relaxer is because healthy hair holds up better when styled and straightened. No woman chooses a relaxer in search of brittle, breaking or thinning hair.
Sensistyle® Curl Relaxer isn’t just an ingredient; it is a natural innovation that answers a market need and meets consumers’ expectations. Bromelain and papain combine with hydrolyzed yeast proteins to achieve up to two levels of curvature reduction per application, with semi-permanent curl relaxing for up to 21 washes in most hair types. Want formulation examples? Look at our 4-in-1 Color & Align Hair Treatments in Blue or Charcoal. And if you need further formulation guidelines, contact us today.