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How do hair relaxers work on curly hair?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Hair relaxers contain chemicals that relax and straighten curly hair. Specifically, these chemicals break bonds, known as disulfide bonds, that link together amino acids in the hairs' keratin (proteins that make up hair). The more disulfide bonds, the curlier the hair.

The longer the hair relaxer is left on curly hair, the straighter it will be after the treatment. It's best to have a licensed technician apply the treatment, since hair damage and skin irritation are risks. The chemicals can also be very harmful if they get in your eyes. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.