Natural/Unprocessed hair. Photo courtesy of: Its Holly - http://www.flickr.com/photos/itsholly/3292517945/

Texturizers are mild versions of a chemical hair relaxer. The texturizer loosens the natural curl pattern of an individual's hair without completely straightening it. Loosening the curl allows for more manipulation and in many cases, more manageability. Texturizers are ideal for someone who wants to retain natural curls but with a softer, looser pattern. Both men and women use texturizers and the process is recommended for use on short to medium length hair.

How Do Texturizers Work?

Texturizers commonly use the chemical sodium hydroxide (lye). Hair contains proteins referred to as keratin amino acids. One of the major amino acids in keratin is cysteine. Cysteine contains a disulfide bridge, which causes the hair to kink and this is what makes the hair curly. Chemicals contained in texturizers such as lye break the hydrogen bonds of the disulfide bridge, altering the physical structure of each strand and loosening the curl.

Neutralizing a Texturizer

Hair requires neutralization after a texturizer is applied and rinsed out. Lye is caustic and will damage hair if left on beyond recommended times. Check the packaging to determine how long the texturizer should process. A neutralizing shampoo will bring the hair closer to its natural pH and stop the chemical process. Some neutralizing shampoos contain color-change properties (such as a change from pink to white) to alert the individual if there is still lye in the hair. After neutralizing the hair, rinse well and apply a deep conditioner to prevent excess drying and breakage.


Chemical processing weakens the hair, so individuals should pay close attention to treated hair. Only gently comb and brush the hair. Keep the hair hydrated and moisturized by drinking lots of fluids and applying topical moisturizers as needed.

Texturizers are chemicals and may burn skin and damage hair. Follow the instructions on the texturizer packaging. Perform a strand test before texturizing to help determine processing time. For sensitive skin and scalps, reconsider using the chemical or use a "base" such as petroleum jelly on the scalp and skin area surrounding the hair you will be processing. Do not get the texturizer in the eyes or use on eyebrows or eyelashes. Use plastic or latex gloves to avoid manual contact with the chemical. Contact a physician if you develop a rash or burns from the chemicals. Chemical dyes are more likely to damage the hair when used in conjunction with texturizers or relaxers.