f you have ever grown a beard, chances are that it grew in pretty curly and frizzy. This is a common occurrence for all androgenic hair (beard, chest hair, etc) and especially among African American Males.
When your facial hair curls up, it can look unkempt and sometimes even resembles pubic hair. So it’s not that big of a surprise that many men are looking for methods to flatten and straighten their beards.
There are three main methods of making your beard straight:
- Using a beard straightener – usually, these are mini flat irons, heated beard straightening combs, or electric press combs (these are our most recommended method and you can read more about straighteners here).
- Using a blow-dryer – the classic way of straightening the facial hair is to simply take a quick shower, and then using a blow-dryer and a beard comb, you straighten the curls. This is pretty effective, but also very time-consuming.
- Using beard relaxing cream (texturizer) – This is the topic of the day, the most effective method of eliminating beard curls, but also the most damaging one. Out of the three, it’s our least recommended route to take.
So are you ready to find out what are beard relaxers and how they work to straighten out your curly facial hairs?
If so, continue reading below and we will tell you everything you ever needed to know about chemical beard texturizers. ↓
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What is Beard Relaxing Cream?
Beard relaxing cream (also called beard texturizer) is a creamy lotion that contains alkali chemicals as the active ingredient.
Alkali in human language is the ionic salt of an alkaline metal, which has a pH value of 7 or above.
The alkali used in beard relaxers is either…
- Sodium hydroxide
- Potassium hydroxide
- Or lye (a blanket term for both).
If the above chemicals sound familiar, that might be because they’re also used in small amounts on shampoos and soaps. The high pH acts as a detergent that strips away dirt and oils.
In this sense, a real beard relaxer is a unique beard product and completely different from things like beard oil or beard balm (although some manufacturers still randomly add “relaxer” to their oil and balm descriptions).
How Does Beard Relaxer Work?
When you have a curly beard, it can be caused by two things…
- The shape of the facial hair follicles (oval-shaped follicles sprout curly facial hairs, and perfectly round follicles tend to sprout straighter beard hairs).
- The tightness of the keratin-bonds (the proteins inside your beard hair fibers are bound together by keratin, the tighter the bonds, the curlier the beard).
You can’t really impact the shape of your follicles, but what you can do with beard relaxing creams and texturizers relates to the keratin bonds inside your beard hairs.
“You see, the strong alkali chemicals in the beard relaxer cream break down the keratin that coils up the facial hair.”
This effectively relaxes and straightens your beard, but as you can expect already expect, there are some major cons with using them.
Does Beard Texturizer Damage the Beard?
The short answer:
Yes. Using a beard relaxing cream will result in some beard damage like increased facial hair shedding and beard split-ends.
The longer answer:
Most people know that using heated beard tools like straightening iron or electric brushes will cause some damage to facial hair.
Even the less effective methods of straightening the beard like blow-drying it, are associated with some possible damage.
But beard relaxing cream is in a league of its own and has the possibility of inflicting much more harm to your beard hairs than heated brushes or blow-drying ever could.
This is because of the strong chemicals used in the beard texturizers, which annihilate the beard hairs from the inside and break down the natural keratin bonds that are responsible for curling the facial hair in the first place.
To put it simply; beard relaxing creams don’t gently guide your beard hairs to flatten up, they beat them into submission and suck the life force out of them from the inside.
This results in a very straight beard, but also an unresponsive and flat beard, which is something you don’t get with other straightening methods like heat tools or blow-drying.
Here’s a great explanation from one guy on Reddit who decided to straighten up his beard with mild lye-free relaxing cream:
“The first thing I noticed was my facial hair was completely flat. I mean it literally looked like someone had taken a clothes iron and pressed it against my face. My whole beard was flat against my skin and if I combed through it the hair would literally fall right back down. It completely killed the hair’s rigidness (both good and bad since all hair needs to have some level of rigidness)”
Now that’s for the mild lye-free stuff.
Imagine what happens when you use the common beard relaxers with a high amount of lye in them (nothing pretty, I can guarantee you that).
These are not just opinions and personal anecdotes either, there is also some scientific studies which have confirmed that the hair that has been treated with chemical relaxers, will lose some of the amino acids from its structure.
Here’s one example of such study, where amino-acid measurements were taken from relaxed hair. The researchers noted things like reduced cysteine levels, which is associated with frail and damaged hair.
And here’s another one, which found that up to 95% of the subjects who used hair relaxing products, had adverse effects like split-ends, dandruff, frizzy hair, etc.Black women that relax their hair straight from the age of 20 to 40 will lose 50% of their hair strands, the result of long term chemical use is that the follicle will not produce new hair, causing premature baldness, and having to turn to the use of wigs, weaves and braiding. Dr. W. Morrow
Granted, the above research is done on curly hair of the scalp, and with scalp-hair relaxing products, which means that it’s not perfect evidence for disowning beard relaxing products.
Yet, how unlikely would it be that the facial hair texturizers that use the exact same ingredients – and are applied to hair that grows out of a similar type of follicles – would somehow result in a different reaction?
For this reason, we do not recommend beard relaxing products. You want to pamper and nourish your facial hair, not destroy it from the inside with harsh chemicals.
If you insist on straightening your curly beard, then go read our articles on blow-drying and using heated beard brushes (like the Aberlite Heat Brush – our personal favorite). Those are much much safer and better alternatives.
Beard relaxing creams are extremely effective at straightening curly facial hair.
But they are also going to damage the beard hairs thanks to the strong chemicals like sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, which will destroy some of the natural keratin bonds that hold and coil up your beard fibers.
Bottom line: Chemical beard relaxer is a lotion that contains lye or other types of alkali as the active ingredient. It straightens up beard curls by breaking down the keratin-bonds inside your facial hair, but this will also result in a flat and unresponsive beard that just feels dead.
Generally speaking, both men of color and those from middle eastern ethnicities tend to have beards that grow in a much curlier manner.
Now if this isn’t you – don’t skip ahead, there’s some good stuff we are covering (you will see why in just a minute).
This can be a major pain for a few reasons:
When cut, instead of growing outwards from the surface of the skin, the hair may actually curl back into the skin and develop a noticeable bump coupled in most cases come with a mild infection.
Secondly, as your beard gets longer and longer, it won’t actually appear longer.
Except when you get out of the shower…
When your beard is soaking wet, you might notice that it has some great length due to the water weight.
However, as soon as you dry it up…
All that length is now hiding along your jawline and your neck.
This can be confidence-busting.
Not only will your beard not have the length, but it will also look way TOO thick and bunched up.
But don’t worry – this will no longer be an issue:
We will go over two killer solutions in just a minute.
But before we do that, I want to take a second to talk about mustache hairs specifically…
…trust me, this is essential to know:
For all men, regardless of ethnicity, they often run into a problem with a curly mustache.
After a couple month’s of growth, you will probably start having issues eating foods such as chicken wings, sandwiches, ice cream, or anything else that requires you to take a bite without a fork or spoon…
…and lets face it:
…eating chicken wings with a fork and spoon while keeping your mustache clean is about as jarring of a scene that one can imagine…
And it’s because of this frustration that most men will start giving second thoughts about that cartridge razor that’s collecting dust in the medicine cabinet.
But, you don’t have to do that…
…at least not yet.
What are the solutions?
Here’s the first one:
Beard Relaxing Cream
Beard relaxing creams are a great way to add some length and get your beard in order.
Relaxing creams are completely unique on how they work.
Think of them as a perfect balance between a styling and moisturizing agent.
The moisturizers in the product will help strengthen the cuticles along the shaft of the hair (these are tiny scales that coat the hair), making them lay flat along with length of the follicle while also giving your beard and skin essential nutrients.
The key moisturizers usually come in all-natural varieties through carrier oils including grapeseed, jojoba, argan, and apricot kernel oil to name just a few.
On the other end of the spectrum is the styling agent – and key to a great looking beard.
Styling agents are exactly what you would think:
They give your beard some shape through extended holds.
Styling formulas come from a wide variety of families.
As a quick example, take a look at your hair styling products:
These are all fixatives and will help keep your beard looking relaxed (and straight) as opposed to being a curly mess throughout the entire day.
Now while there are very few beard relaxing creams on the market, beardsmen will either do one of two things:
Use a hair centric product on their beard…
…use a beard balm (which is sometimes marketed as a relaxing cream).
If your beard is a few months old, we would recommend reaching for a beard balm for a few reasons:
First and foremost, they are usually all natural (as opposed to chemical based hair care products).
Since you will be applying this stuff directly to your face (which has naturally more sensitive skin) and smelling it (at least for the morning hours), you probably don’t want to be huffing chemicals.
Balms come in many different varieties.
However, being that you are dealing with a curly beard and are trying to relax it, many beardsmen have had success with this beard balm.
This beard balm has a higher density of beeswax than compared to most.
Therefore, you will still get all the great conditioning agents of the balm through the carrier and essential oils along with a butter.
But that’s not all:
If you are sitting there thinking to yourself that you tried beard balm and it just didn’t work…
You will want also double down on some mustache wax.
Typically formulated from 95% beeswax, mustache wax will give you the ultimate control over your beard.
Now don’t think that this stuff can only be used on your upper lip – its completely safe and acceptable to use a little bit on the rest of your beard as well…
…just don’t get too carried away with it though…
Otherwise you might find yourself entering the World Beard & Mustache Championships!
Straighten Beard With A Flat Iron
Now if you want to get physical with your beard, the best option is a flat iron.
Yes, probably the same thing your wife or girlfriend uses…
I know this might be out of the comfort zone for some men…
…but so is eating a chicken wing with a fork and knife…
If you want effective results immediately, then you must consider this.
But unlike her flat iron, you need to get something a bit more compact and discrete.
Therefore, travel flat irons like this one are perfect for your beard.
Not only do the smaller paddles make it easier to control, but you also are less likely to burn yourself in the process.
A quick word of wisdom:
You got to exercise caution when using this tool.
Excessive use on your beard will burn the follicles.
This will make your beard look worse, and likely impossible to repair.
So please, use extreme caution when handling.
Brush Then Comb – Depends On Beard Length
In order to get the most out of your next tub of beard relaxing cream, you will want to make sure you brush or comb daily.
Now, here’s the short when it comes to beard styling:
Most men use their standard comb or plastic brush.
While, yes, you can use this tool…
it’s just not….
…doing the best for your beard.
More often than not, cheap brushes are made from plastic and do a lackluster job of spreading the relaxing cream through your beard.
Secondly, many of the cheap combs are pretty flimsy and don’t really work too well.
Now, I definitely don’t want to come across as salesy.
However, I really do think the best beard brushes make a marked increase in length and appearance for beardsmen, especially those with curly beards.
The reason why they work better is that they rely on natural animal fibers (usually boars hair) rather than plastic.
This means that they will help to distribute product (i.e. beard relaxing cream that has moisturizers and styling agents) along the entire shaft of your beard.
Secondly, when dealing with a really curly beard, beard brushes help the follicles to grow in a uniform direction.
Regardless of ethnicity, nearly all men struggle with some curly hairs on their mustache or neck.
When using a beard brush daily, you can train your hairs out of the way of your mouth (or going downward on your neck and cheeks) in order to both look longer and behave the way you want it too!
Beard combs on the other hand are perfect for further styling with really long beards.
So, if you have more than a few months of growth, I would recommend going with a beard comb instead.
Sure, you can use a brush, but combs will give you a bit more control and still deliver great results.
Important Reminders When Trying To Relax Your Beard
Just like growing a beard, relaxing and maintaining your beard really boils down to persistence.
Taking a few days off will more often than not reverse all the hard work that you have done to date.
Therefore, it’s incredibly important that you use a relaxing cream and brush daily.
This will not only help to cure any sort of beard itch or dry skin that is resting beneath your beard, but the rich moisturizing carrier oils and butters contained within the product will make your beard heathy and well-nourished.
But more importantly, the beeswax in these relaxing creams will give your beard natural styling abilities that will help to improve the length and straighten out even the toughest of curls.
All products aside:
One great way to fully relax your beard will be patience.
The longer your beard is, the more the beard will go downwards due to its weight alone.
If you can push yourself to grow a yeard (beard for a year), not only will you be incredibly pleased with the length of your beard, but also with the appearance of your follicles beginning to straighten.