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The modern man puts a lot of effort into his appearance. From wearing well-fitting clothes to having skin and beard routines, men no longer shy away from looking good. Among the many routines they use to enhance appearance is relaxing hair.
The practice has long been reserved for women, but young men are quickly taking to the trend. Taking cues from celebrities like Jaden Smith, Travis Scott, and Nasty C, perming or relaxing hair seems the next popular fad.
As with any other hair routine, finding the right hair product is critical to successfully perming your hair. So, we’ve prepared a list of the best hair relaxers for black men’s hair to help you make an informed decision.
Here’s an overview of the best hair relaxers for black men to make exploring relaxer options easier for you:
1. SoftSheen No-Lye Relaxer: Best Overall
With over 100 years of operation, SoftSheen has proved a reliable producer of the best hair relaxers for black hair. This particular one is our best pick due to its long-lasting results. Being a no-lye relaxer means its formula isn’t as strong as lye relaxers. However, SoftSheen formulates it to give salon-like results that last up to six weeks.
Another reason it tops this list is that it’s infused with natural ingredients to nourish your hair. It has avocado oil, shea butter, and jojoba to moisturize and strengthen your hair while giving it a healthy glow.
You also get value for your money as the kit comes with eight components for a complete perming regimen. The kit comes with a hair conditioner to moisturize your hair, keratin serum to remove hair frizz, and a protective pre-treatment and neutralizing shampoo to avoid irritation and hair damage.
Since it has regular strength, it’s best to apply it to hair with medium or normal hair texture. It might be extremely harsh for black men with thin or delicate hair.
2. Phyto Specific Phytorelaxer: Best Premium
This relaxer is for you if you’re big on using plant-based hair products or want a relaxer that doesn’t have hydroxide compounds. Its price is a little higher than other products on our list, but its all-natural formula is worth every dime.
It contains soybean extract, wheat proteins, cinchona, and the Shitake mushroom salt, which nourishes hair, repairs and restructures damaged shafts, and protects hair against thinning.
Also, it doesn’t contain hydroxide compounds, making this relaxer an excellent pick for men with thin and delicate hair.
The relaxer feels light on the scalp and hardly leaves your hands greasy, relaxing your hair without weighing your head down. The result is soft, silky, and shiny hair, but its plant-based formula might not keep hair straight for long.
3. TCB No Base Hair Relaxer: Best Budget
TCB is a legendary producer of hair relaxers, and this formula is a great budget pick. It packs lots of product (425 g) for the money and is effective enough to straighten your hair within minutes. The relaxer is also super strong, so you only need a small amount to get the process going.
Since sodium hydroxide is the active ingredient, only professionals can apply it to your hair. However, with the moisturizing agents, it hardly causes burning and irritation on the scalp.
This particular relaxer has a super strength formula making it suitable for men with normal or medium hair texture and those with tough curls. If you want to set waves, this relaxer makes the process easier. It’s best to follow it up with a neutralizing shampoo to avoid damaging your hair.
4. Avlon Affirm Conditioning Relaxer for Sensitive Scalp
The Avlon Affirm relaxer is one of the mildest relaxers on the market. It’s an excellent buy for men with delicate or damaged hair or a sensitive scalp. This relaxer is made from high-quality ingredients which straighten hair effectively without irritating the scalp.
Its formula also works well on curly hair as it provides superior curl retention while creating a smooth, silky texture. What’s more, it rinses out quickly from the hair without leaving residue.
The fact that it doesn’t contain thioglycolates, which damage the hair cuticle, is a bonus for people with highly damaged hair. The relaxer comes in a nine-product kit which includes a shampoo, conditioner, relaxer, neutralizer, and activator to protect your scalp from chemicals.
5. Mizani Relaxer
Dying and color-treating hair has been a popular trend among young men. Finding a relaxer that works well on color-treated hair can be an uphill task, but Mizani’s relaxer proves otherwise. It’s one highly-rated relaxer for both men and women.
This particular one straightens hair within minutes of application without irritating the scalp. It also works on a range of black hair types, including curly, delicate, and fine hair. Follow it up with a neutralizer to stop the chemical action; otherwise, the relaxer continues reacting on your hair.
6. Avlon Fiber Guard Relaxer Kit for Sensitive Scalp
It seems Avlon’s lineup comprises relaxers for people with sensitive scalp and the Fiber Guard is another excellent pick. It’s a no-lye relaxer allowing you to achieve salon-like results at home.
The Fiber Guard has a more potent formula than Affirm Relaxer as it is made with Avlon’s proprietary Fiber Strengthening Complex technology. The formula not only strengthens your hair but also penetrates deep into the roots after relaxing to enhance its elasticity and tensile strength.
It also restores the hair’s moisture and glow, creating more body to damaged hair. The Fiber Guard is also an excellent relaxer for men with color-treated hair.
7. Motions Hair Relaxer
Although relaxing hair leaves it neat and all straightened out, the process can cause the scalp to dry out. Finding a relaxer that straightens hair and moisturizes the scalp simultaneously is essential. Motions relaxer is one such product. It’s a lye-relaxer with mild strength hence suitable for men with medium and normal hair textures.
The relaxer is infused with hydrating ingredients like coconut oil, argan oil, and shea butter. Coconut oil nourishes and repairs hair; shea butter deeply moisturizes dry hair and the scalp, while argan oil adds shine to the hair.
The formula also contains cationic conditioners, which hold onto each hair strand to enhance hydration.
8. Hawaiian Silky No-lye Relaxer
This is another no-lye relaxer for black men’s hair. Unlike other no-lye relaxers with calcium hydroxide as the active ingredient, the Hawaiian Silky relaxer contains lithium hydroxide.
This is an excellent alternative because it doesn’t leave any calcium deposits on hair. The formula also contains essential oils which strengthen and enhance the hair’s natural glow. Jojoba oil, one of the oils, nourishes your hair with minerals and vitamins and prevents hair loss.
Hawaiian Silky also adds a blend of mink oil to improve hair texture, a handy feature for men with damaged or extremely dry hair. The formula is so well-balanced that you don’t need an activator when using this relaxer.
9. Dr. Miracles No-lye Relaxer (Super)
The relaxer is another excellent buy for men with sensitive scalp or damaged hair. Its formula is mild but effective thanks to the blend of vitamins, essential oils, minerals, and the active ingredient.
The result is neat, straightened hair with a healthy, shiny glow. Although the relaxer contains conditioning agents, it would help if you followed it up with a deep conditioner to reduce the drying effect on the hair.
The product is pretty light on the hair and goes on more evenly than other relaxers. There’s also minimal hair breakage, a common problem many men experience after relaxing hair.
10. Alter Ego Shea Butter Cream Relaxer by Linage
This relaxer doesn’t just straighten your hair but keeps it thick and strong. It reintroduces proteins to reverse any hair damage and retain the hair’s structural strength.
Surprisingly, it’s pretty gentle on the hair and the scalp, albeit being a lye relaxer. This means you hardly experience burning or irritation associated with these relaxer types. What’s more, it doesn’t have the characteristic chemical scent, which makes it pretty tolerable.
Alter Ego Shea Butter relaxer is ready for use out of the box, so you don’t need to add an activator. Wear a pair of gloves and start applying it to your hair. Another feature that makes this relaxer stand out is that it hardly dries out your hair.
Linage adds two hydrating ingredients—shea butter and Kerastase Nutrithermique—which combat dryness, leaving your hair soft, smooth, and glowing. However, you must follow it up with a conditioner to ensure the product is removed entirely after rinsing your hair.
11. Revlon Conditioning Creme Relaxer
Men with dense, coarse hair often find most relaxers ineffective. Most products fail to straighten out hair, and if they do, it doesn’t last long.
Revlon’s professional creme relaxer puts your fears to rest. It has infused this product with a strong formula that works on such hair, straightening it out within 10-15 minutes of application. The result is smooth, shiny, healthy hair, and if your hair has waves, they feel softer and more defined.
There are several caveats to using this relaxer. First, men with bleached or permanently colored hair with breakage or split ends should steer clear of this relaxer. If you must use a Revlon Conditioning relaxer, look for one with a mild formula.
Also, if you’ve dyed hair and want to use this relaxer, it’s best to apply it after three weeks of dying hair. Lastly, after rinsing off the product, use a shampoo and conditioner to prevent hair damage and ensure the hair remains straightened out longer.
12. Dark and Lovely No-Lye Relaxer by SoftSheen Carson
Your hair may have weakened and lost its luster if you’ve been color-treating it for a long time. Finding a relaxer that restores its strength is critical to keeping it healthy, and the Dark and Lovely No-Lye relaxer is one such product.
It restores the hair’s moisture, strength, softness, shine, and body. The product is infused with silk keratin serum which reloads the hair’s strength and conditioning ingredients to restore moisture.
The formula is so mild that it doesn’t burn or irritate the scalp even when it sets for an extended period. It straightens hair out, leaving it soft, smooth, and silky. The relaxer is also great for texlaxing if you don’t want to straighten your hair completely.
What to Look for When Buying Best Hair Relaxers for Black Men’s Hair
Finding a product with ingredients that work on your hair type is critical when buying a relaxer.
You don’t want to have a Denzel Washington moment (on Malcolm X) where he had to put his head in a toilet bowl to get the product out. Here are tips to help you choose the right product:
Type: Lye vs. No Lye Relaxer
Typically there are two types of relaxers: lye and no-lye relaxers. The difference lies in their chemical formulations. Lye-based relaxers have sodium hydroxide as the active ingredient and are naturally stronger than no-lye relaxers, increasing the risk of burns.
They also have stronger pH levels which is why only professionals use them. The primary advantage of lye-based relaxers is that they rinse off without leaving residues, giving your hair a healthier and shinier look.
On the other hand, no-lye relaxers have milder formulations as they’ve potassium, lithium, calcium, or guanidine hydroxide as the active ingredient. Most relaxers have no-lye chemical formulations, which are easier on the scalp.
However, the calcium deposits cause hair to dry out and break, and you may need to use a clarifying or chelating shampoo to remove them. Chelating shampoos are also great if you often swim, wash hair with hard water, or are constantly exposed to chlorine.
Note that you don’t have to use a chelating shampoo every time you wash your hair. You can use it once a month or alternate it with a sulfate-free shampoo.
This feature determines the outcome of the overall process. Relaxers have three chemical formulas: mild, regular, and super formulas. Products with mild formulas are the most preferred as they relax hair while conditioning and nourishing it.
They’re the best for fine hair textures. On the other hand, those with regular formulas have more potent chemicals than mild formulas and are ideal for hair with medium/normal texture.
Super formulas are the best for men with coarse hair because it takes longer to straighten. Before using the super formula, it’s best to do a strand test with a regular formula first.
Knowing your hair texture is critical to buying a relaxer with the right formulation. The typical 4a, 4b, 4c, and 3c scale might not help; instead, you need to know the thickness of your strands relative to other people’s.
Typically, men have thicker, coarser strands than women; hence need relaxers with strong formulations. Hair texture is divided into coarse, medium/normal, and fine hair. Men with thick, wiry hair strands have coarse hair and need relaxers with regular or super formulations.
Those with thin, smooth hair strands have fine hair and need milder formulas, while men whose hair texture is between the two categories are deemed medium or normal. Relaxers with mild or regular formulas are the best.
Men with sensitive scalp or conditions like eczema should look for relaxers with gentle formulations. They should also consider pre-treating the scalp with a protective base and avoid applying a relaxer directly on the scalp.
Damaged or color-treated hair needs special formulations. Such relaxers have milder formulas and may contain natural plant extracts to nourish your hair.
Color-treated hair, for example, needs relaxers that contain ammonium thioglycolate because it’s less damaging to the hair follicles. If you can’t find relaxers with this chemical, opt for those with guanidine hydroxide.
Although this chemical is stronger, it works well on color-treated hair. On the other hand, men with damaged hair should look for castor oil relaxers to increase the hair’s volume.
Even the best hair relaxers for black men’s hair are loaded with chemicals that dry out hair. To balance out their effects, it’s best to check if the product is infused with natural ingredients which nourish the hair with essential minerals and vitamins.
They also enhance the hair’s texture and appearance, minimize hair breakage and hydrate the scalp. Here are examples of natural ingredients to look out for:
- Coconut oil: The oil penetrates the hair’s roots to protect the cuticle from damage caused by frequent wetting and drying of hair.
- Aloe vera: It keeps the hair and the scalp hydrated, resulting in smooth hair. Aloe vera also repairs damaged hair by promoting growth.
- Argan oil: It has a hydrating effect as it’s rich in Vitamin E, linoleic acid, and oleic acid. The Vitamin E component also helps add shine to your hair. That’s why relaxers infused with argan oil are great for men with color-treated hair.
- Avocado oil: It’s known for its emollient effects, which soften, hydrate, and smoothen hair. The oil also promotes the hair’s overall health and minimizes breakage.
- Olive oil: It comes in handy when relaxing damaged or frizzy hair because it nourishes the scalp and the hair and seals in moisture, restoring your hair’s health.
Best Hair Relaxer Brands for Black Men’s Hair
Finding a good relaxer for black men’s hair isn’t just about the ingredients; a brand’s reputation plays a critical role. We recommend these two brands:
SoftSheen Carson was established to provide hair products for people of color, and it has made a name for itself in the hair industry. The company has more than 200 hair products marketed under different brand names, including Optimum Care, Care Free Curl, and Frizz-Free, to mention a few.
TCB was founded in 1975 and has since shown outstanding commitment to producing the best products for black hair. Although it started with only eight products, TCB’s lineup has expanded dramatically, offering products in the styling, relaxer, and styling segments. Its relaxer products are known for their ability to straighten out hair without burning or irritating the scalp.
Top Hair Relaxers for Black Men’s Hair, Final Thoughts
By now, you should be able to make a wise decision when buying the best hair relaxers for black men’s hair. The SoftSheen No-Lye Relaxer is a great pick for all hair types, but if your hair needs more moisture, the Dark and Lovely No-Lye Relaxer by SoftSheen Carson is a better buy.
With these hair relaxers, you’re well on your way to achieving the best hair look.