Sidney says…Can your please review the product Curlaway Curl Relaxer by Xenna? It claims to use acetic acid to temporarily relax the hair. Is there truth to this product?
The Right Brain’s relaxed response:
I guess our answer depends on your definition of “relax.” Based on the chemistry of this product (yes, we know it’s “natural” but it still contains chemicals!) we’re certain it won’t straighten hair the way a traditional relaxer will.
Xenna Curlaway Ingredients
Here’s what Xenna’s website says about the ingredients: ”Patented Curlaway Curl Relaxer contains naturally-derived acetic acid (a natural relaxer), PEG 400 (to hold the water and oil ingredients together in a gel consistency), dl-panthenol the vitamin B-5 for conditioning your hair, MSM (a fortifier, conditioner and hair softener), grapeseed oil (a natural, light oil to penetrate your hair for shine and moisturization) and fragrance.”
Purified Water , PEG 400 Monostearate , Grapeseed Oil , Dimethylsulfone , Acetic Acid , DL-Panthenol , Fragrance , Xanthan Gum
PEG 400 monstearate is an emulsifier and thickener while MSM is a solvent formally known as Dimethylsulfone. The “plant acid” (aka acetic acid or vinegar) as the active relaxing ingredient seems implausible. (Even though the salon world has been using vinegar rinses forever to “tighten the cuticle and create shine”.) If anything, acetic acid would de-swell the hair. Xenna’s website essentially admits this when they say “Curlaway Curl Relaxer breaks hydrogen bonds in the keratin protein of your hair, not S-S bonds like conventional, high-pH relaxers.” Hydrogen bonds are very weak and very temporary compared to the S-S (disulfide) bonds.
If Xenna is applied with heat, then I’d expect it to work like a heat straightener. In any case, neither heat nor reducing agents are as effective as the alkali relaxers and are certainly more temporary in nature. The good news is that is much less damaging to your hair. The bad news is that reversion to kinky/curly is/was and always will be the problem with these types of products on African hair.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
This product is certainly not as effective as a traditional relaxer but if you’re looking just to loosen your curls there’s no downside to giving it a try. It certainly won’t hurt your hair and it’s not that expensive.
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