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How Does a Texturizer Make Hair Curly?

author image Allan Robinson
Allan Robinson has written numerous articles for various health and fitness sites. Robinson also has 15 years of experience as a software engineer and has extensive accreditation in software engineering. He holds a bachelor's degree with majors in biology and mathematics.


A hair texturizer loosens curly hair without straightening it. It's primarily used on extremely tight curls to make the hair more manageable. A hair texturizer is chemically similar to a hair relaxer and contains an alkaline substance which will break some of the protein bonds in the hair. A texturizer is milder and is left on the hair for a shorter period of time than a relaxer. A texturizer is typically left on for five to eight minutes, whereas a relaxer is left on for 20 to 30 minutes. Unlike relaxers, a texturizer is left on without combing it through the hair. Hair is frequently shampooed immediately after rinsing out the stronger texturizers in order to neutralize the alkalinity of the texturizer. Texturizing lasts for three to five months, depending on the hair and the strength of the texturizer.

Lye Texturizers

A lye texturizer uses sodium hydroxide (lye) as the active ingredient. Additional ingredients in a lye texturizer include petroleum jelly, mineral oil, emulsifiers and water. These ingredients primarily serve to provide the desired consistency for the texturizer. The lye removes some of the bonds in the hair's protein, which causes it to have a slightly looser structure. A lye texturizer may be further classified into "base" and "no base" texturizer. A "base" texturizer is stronger and requires you to apply petroleum jelly to protect your scalp. A "no base" texturizer can be applied directly to the hair without petroleum jelly.

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"No Lye" Texturizers

A "no lye" hair texturizer uses some other alkaline substance besides sodium hydroxide. The most common active ingredients in "no lye" texturizers include calcium hydroxide and ammonium thioglycolate. Calcium hydroxide is the best for sensitive skin, but may not loosen the tightest curls. Ammonium thioglycolate is used primarily on shorter curly hair, and doesn't require shampooing afterwards.

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