Hair Relaxing vs Hair Rebonding—Which Is Better?

Updated on June 6, 2018
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Hair Straightening: Should You Relax or Rebond?

If you have curly, frizzy, or unmanageable hair, you may have opted to have your hair straightened permanently. Straightening hair is increasingly common among women today.

There are a number of methods for straightening hair permanently, including relaxation or rebonding (also called Japanese thermal reconditioning).

What Is the Difference Between Hair Relaxing and Hair Rebonding?

Both relaxing and rebonding use chemicals to straighten hair, but they have different costs and end results.

Hair Relaxing

This procedure uses chemicals to straighten the hair by breaking down and reforming the hair's components. Typically, the treatment does not straighten the hair completely. Rather, it softens very tight or kinky curls. Many women find they still need to straighten their hair after having it relaxed if they want it to be completely straight.

The chemicals used in this process are typically lye-based. Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, has a high pH level, which means it is a strong alkaline (as opposed to an acid). It can straighten very quickly but can cause scalp irritation if you leave it on for too long. However, there are non-lye relaxers—a common one is guanidine hydroxide.

Process:

  1. Get a consultation with a stylist, during which you'll talk about your goals and the look that you want to achieve. You should also ask what their experience is with this procedure. If they are very new, you might want to choose somewhere else to go.
  2. Once you've decided on getting the treatment, your hair is washed and cut, and a straightening chemical is applied and left on for about twenty minutes, which loosens the bonds in the hair.
  3. The solution is rinsed and then neutralized with an acidic solution.
  4. Your stylist will give you instructions on taking care of your hair for the next couple of days after the treatment.
  5. You'll need to touch up your hair every 6-8 weeks as new growth comes in.

Pros:

  • The procedure is relatively cheap and does not take very long to do.

Cons:

  • The process does not take the curl all the way out of your hair, and you will need to continue to style it.
  • The procedure, if done improperly, can cause scalp irritation and burning since it is applied at the scalp level.
  • The texture of the hair after relaxing can be brittle or coarse.

Summary:

Hair relaxing is popular because it is very affordable and the chemicals needed to perform the procedure are cheap. However, side affects can be severe. Many people complain about their hair falling out, scalp irritation, dry hair, hair loss, scalp burns, and others. The side effects can be especially pronounced if you have your hair relaxed frequently (every eight weeks).

When looking for a place to get your hair chemically straightened, go to centers with skilled and professionally licensed stylists. The application of the chemicals requires expertise. Delayed rinsing or improper application and execution can lead to hair damage.

Video: Professional Hair Rebonding

Hair Rebonding (Also Called Japanese Straightening or Thermal Reconditioning)

This procedure was developed in Japan and has become popular in other Asian countries and communities. Rebonding uses slightly different chemicals than relaxing as well as heat in order to straighten the hair.

Rebonding is done by the application of a solution, usually a perming solution with strong chemicals like sodium hydroxide, guanidine hydroxide and ammonium thioglycolate or thio. This process breaks the hair bonds. Then a flat iron is used to reset the hair bonds and make the hair straight.

Process:

  1. Get a consultation with a stylist. In the consultation, you'll talk about your hair's history, and you should also learn about the stylist and how many times they've done the procedure before. Some people say that if it's less than fifty times, you should find someone else. The procedure cannot be done to someone with hair that has already been relaxed.
  2. Rebonding chemical is applied and then left to set, loosening the hair structure as in a perm.
  3. After the hair is washed, the hair bonds are reset using a flat iron.
  4. A neutralizing agent is applied that will preserve newly restructured hair bonds and the hair is rinsed and ironed again.
  5. The stylist will give you instructions on how to maintain your hair for the couple of days following the procedure as well as what you need to do on a regular basis to make the treatment last for as long as possible.

Pros:

  • The procedure lasts for six or seven months.
  • Treated hair looks very beautiful with a rich natural texture.

Cons:

  • The procedure is costly and time-consuming. It can cost between $400 and $950 and take up to seven hours.
  • You won't be able to try new looks (such as curls) in the months following the procedure, because this could damage your newly-straightened hair.
  • You should not try this procedure if you've already had intensive hair treatments such as straightening, hair coloring, or bleaching because your hair won't be able to handle the chemicals.
  • People of African descent should not use this procedure because it is too harsh and will be more damaging than hair relaxation. The procedure is best to straighten bulky, loose, or medium curls, but not kinky ones.

Summary:

Rebonding is an irreversible procedure that can lead to hair damage when not done properly or if the hair is not taken care appropriately afterwards. It can also be very time-consuming—no less than four hours for the shortest hair, and even longer for those with longer or thicker hair. It can also be more expensive than straightening.

That said, most people are extremely happy with the results of rebonding because their hair requires no additional styling. You should always ask your stylist about the results he or she would expect on your specific hair type.

So there you go! Now it's up to you to decide on which treatment you want for your crowning glory (your hair!)

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Questions & Answers

    Have you had your hair relaxed or rebonded?

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      • profile image

        Sal 

        4 months ago

        Just say “people who have kinky hair shouldn’t use this product” instead of “people of African descent shouldn’t use this product” because there are a whole bunch of “people of African descent” whose hair is nowhere near kinky...some of them even have straight hair. Not trying to be extra “woke” but I just don’t want a black girl with hair that is actually suitable for the treatment to think that she’s not because of an error the writer made :)

      • profile image

        Patience 

        8 months ago

        So lovely,and I would like to undergo ur training

      • eatpraylove profile imageAUTHOR

        eatpraylove 

        18 months ago from Philippines

        Yes.

      • profile image

        Yasmin 

        23 months ago

        Hi.. I have wavy hair.. somehow,i want to straighten half of my hair.. I mean, I want my upper hair to be straight and my lower hair to be wave.. so what I did was, I do rebonding my upper hair.. and my hairstylist said not to wash my hair for two days.. then after the two days,I wash my hair and put hair mask on my lower hair so that my hair will be healthy.. and now I achieved the look that I want..

        Just remember that rebonding really took a long time to do it..mine was from 6pm-12am.. and pls take care of your hair after rebonding..

        Hope this help..

      • profile image

        Roshan 

        2 years ago

        Since hair rebonding is very popular in the Philippines, local salons with stylists (mostly unlicensed) offer hair Rebonding worth about 12-30 usd. It might seem very attracting but, most of these treatments are extremely damaging and carelessly done. I had my hair rebonded in the phil for one time, and during the process the guy doing my hair was literally pressing the metal plate of the hair straightener against my scalp! It was burning so bad and the end results looked terrible. My hair looked like a poorly done wig with metal sticks as strands. My hair had no flow at all! It was all literally pin straight. No curves, no texture, just poorly done, rough, stick- straight hair. So DO NOT trust local shops in the PH. They didn't even advise me to not wash hair until the next 3 days! I'm glad i knew that I had to but i pity the other girls at the salon not knowing what they had to do. NEVER REBONDING EVER AGAIN.

      • profile image

        amna 

        2 years ago

        Can 13 years old do hair rebonding?

      • profile image

        Gitika 

        2 years ago

        I had naturally straight hair. Still I went in for relaxing only to make it more manageable. Got amazing results. After a year I underwent another relaxing session. But since then the fresh hair growth is wavy. Where I am left with no option but to continue straightening. Result hair loss, itching in scalp. Pls guide is there a way to get back my original texture.

      • profile image

        lali 

        2 years ago

        Hi wht u mean by hot oil ? Can i do it by myself. Take coconut oil make it hot and apply on my hair?

      • profile image

        Maria 

        3 years ago

        Good Dayy. I have a very thick hair that is frizzy and always dry. And a little bit wavy. I don't want to Rebond it because it can leave permanent damages and it would take so long to recover it (or maybe not). So do you prefer Hair Relaxing? Or is it just like having a hot oil or something?

      • profile image

        Shani 

        3 years ago

        I also want to do relaxing or rebonding...but I'm afraid to hair losing and hair falling...?

      • profile image

        roselle 

        3 years ago

        what if.my hair.is.naturally straight but they're a little wavy bec i always have it ponytailed.should i get a rebond or any other treatment thata not too harsh.

      • profile image

        jane 

        3 years ago

        Can a 12 yrs. Old can do hair relaxing??

      • profile image

        Sue 

        3 years ago

        Don't ever do the relaxer.. I'm balding because of it and i can say that i have lost like 60-70% of my hair in just one year.My hair keep falling out non stop with very2 little regrowth because the stylist apply it very near to my scalp and it damage my hair follicle. I can say that i have a very nice hair n quite good looking girl before this thing happen to me.My life will never be the same because of this stupid treatment..

      • profile image

        shenya 

        3 years ago

        Hy..i want to relax my hair..but I'm afraid to do that...i can't understand wether reborn or relax is suitable for me...i have normly straight hair...but i don't like it...i don't have much hair and my hair is very silky and thin..plz tell me which one is better for me...reborn or relax???

      • profile image

        Neela 

        3 years ago

        My Hair look so thin after i rebonding my hair is it if i do relaxing is better .

      • profile image

        sofea 

        3 years ago

        totally unrelated question but i've rebonding my hair last 4 month. and now i decided to colour my hair, will it affect my hair? can I colour my hair? your comment is highly appreciated :)

      • eatpraylove profile imageAUTHOR

        eatpraylove 

        3 years ago from Philippines

        what about rebonding? :) do you have any questions about hair rebonding? :)

      • profile image

        nisha 

        3 years ago

        Rebonding

      • profile image

        saai 

        3 years ago

        what is better, hair rebounding or hair relaxing? i want naturally shine hair which would be better looking for my hair?

      • eatpraylove profile imageAUTHOR

        eatpraylove 

        3 years ago from Philippines

        You can have your hair rebonded from a reputable salon. :)

      • profile image

        Jenny 

        3 years ago

        Hi, I have very fine and wavy hair. But I like to have straight hair. But I'm afraid of hair loss.I want to rebond my hair badly. What should I do?

      • eatpraylove profile imageAUTHOR

        eatpraylove 

        3 years ago from Philippines

        Sadly, you can't just get your hair curled back right away. Remember, the rebonding chemicals are still present in your hair components and applying another type of medicine can lead to serious chemical reactions. You don't want to lose all your hair, right? Just treat your hair with hot oil and maintain with recovery treatments and wait for a few months before you go for any other hair procedure.

      • profile image

        surya 

        3 years ago

        Hai,I just rebonded my hair ,now 3rd day is going on,,I don't like it,,I want my natural curly back,,is it possible???plesse help me...

      • profile image

        Bella J. Lenhart 

        4 years ago

        Its nice to see if your hair was straight..,I try this site and it feel good and looks great.., Thank you for this:)

      • eatpraylove profile imageAUTHOR

        eatpraylove 

        4 years ago from Philippines

        Yes that straight hair is achievable through hair rebonding :)

      • profile image

        jessa 

        4 years ago

        I like this straigh hair

      • profile image

        5 years ago

        hmmmm

      • profile image

        エリカ 

        6 years ago

        Hair rebonding is 10x, way better than Relaxers. Although both straightening processes are damaging, I personally choose Rebonding(Japanese Straightening).

        I've been Rebonding my hair for about 3 years now and I'm always happy with the result. About the relaxers, I've had horrible experiences with them. I got chemical burns when I was in the salon, I could barely take it! Consequently, my hair got super damaged and after even my 1st wash, my curls returned. It didn't last as long. After all that, I refused to do/use any relaxers ever again. BUT, my rebonding lasted for almost a year! I didn't have to go regularly for a touch-up. That was the good part! Now, the bad part is you could have excessive hairfall or further damage, that is, if you don't care for your hair properly. The hair will become weak after the process. So make sure to deep condition/do hot oil treatments regularly to restore the moisture you hair has lost. Also, avoid using any heat aplliances on you hair as it will exceed the amount of damage already done.

        Now this is very important. Always remember, you need to get a professional stylist to do the rebonding because this process is a delicate one. You can't leave that to inexperienced stylists.

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