The Left Brain responds:
Right Brain has blogged before about the chemistry of hair relaxers. In short, here is how they work: Hair has two kinds of chemical bonds that keep its shape. The first type, hydrogen bonds, weakly bind protein chains together. These bonds are easily broken by wetting the hair with water. (This is what causes “bed head” in the morning.) The second type, disulfide bonds, are very strong and the primary reason kinky hair is so hard to straighten. Chemical relaxers work by breaking these disulfide bonds with alkaline chemicals; this allows the hair to be straightened. The bonds are then reformed in the straight configuration to lock in the hair’s new shape.
Cautious about Curlaway
Curlaway claims to relax hair “using very gentle, natural ingredients that are low in pH, not high in pH like alkalines.” Their website says that “Curlaway Curl Relaxer breaks hydrogen bonds in the keratin protein of your hair, not S-S bonds like conventional, high-pH relaxers.” While it is true that Curlaway doesn’t contain any high pH relaxing ingredients it it is true that this product will break hydrogen bonds, it’s wrong to imply it can be as effective as an alkaline relaxer. Just breaking hydrogen bonds will not straighten tightly curled hair. Curlaway may be a perfectly fine straightening lotion to use with a flat iron but it’s not chemically capable of permanently straightening hair.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
Curlaway Curl Relaxer is a non-reactive treatment that can help straighten hair when used with heat styling tools. But this acetic acid based product is not a magic replacement for alkaline relaxers.
Have you tried Curlaway? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.