There are a various chemicals of differing strengths incorporated in most modern hair perms for black hair that all work by breaking down the proteins in the hair, essentially straightening it. Choosing the best perm for black hair will require you to know the chemical differences between hair texturizers, lye, and non-lye relaxers. If you are looking for something that will slightly loosen your curl pattern, then a texturizer will be right for you. Non-lye, and lye relaxers will completely straighten the hair, with non-lye formulations being suitable for those with sensitive hair strands.
To understand how texturizers and other chemical straighteners work, you will have to familiarize yourself with the science behind chemical straighteners. Hair is mostly made up of proteins known as keratin amino acids. The sulfide bridge in the protein is what gives hair its unique shape and texture. Chemicals like sodium hydroxide is weaken these protein bonds, resulting in straighter hair. When selecting a perm for black hair, always make sure to use the appropriate strength. Boxes are that are labeled as “Super” should only be used on stubborn hair, while “Mild” formulations should be used on fine hair.
If you are trying to maintain a somewhat natural curl pattern, then a texturizer will be best for you. The sodium hydroxide in texturizers will loosen tightly-coiled hair to something with more of a wave pattern. They are usually marketed towards men because of their ease of use, though they can be used on women just as well.
There are two other forms of relaxers that are usually used to straighten black hair completely. A hair relaxer is the best choice if you are looking for a perm for black hair that will completely straighten the hair strand. Unlike texturizers, hair relaxers will have a more potent formulation of sodium hydroxide, resulting in straight hair instead of smooth curls delivered by a texturizer. Guanidine hydroxide, commonly dubbed as a “no lye” relaxer, is a perm for black hair that straightens without the harsh sodium hydroxide compound. This chemical will benefit those that have adverse reactions to sodium hydroxide.
A perm for black hair will have to be washed as soon as the desired straightness is achieved. The rinsing process is as important as the application, as traces of perm left on the hair will continue to process it. It's imperative to select a perm for black hair that contains a neutralizer that will halt the chemical process.