It is a running joke online for Black women to claim their hair would’ve been extremely long or lavishly thick if their mother hadn’t permed it when they were a little girl. This mockery of relaxers, horrible pungent smells, chemical burns, etc. is a testament to the rather complex relationship between Black women with textured hair who have more often than not fallen victim to texturism.
According to USA Today, due to cancer-causing chemicals, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests placing a ban on products that straighten and smooth hair. Products with the chemical formaldehyde, or other chemicals that could possibly release formaldehyde have been linked to chronic health conditions like cancer. In addition to this they can also cause short term health effects like shortness of breath and other kinds of reactions.
There have been multiple studies done by the International Journal of Cancer and the National Institutes of Health to support these claims. However none have been absolutely conclusive. It’s important to be conscious of the ingredients in the products you use on a daily basis. Make an effort to make sure that if your products do contain these kinds of chemicals, that the amounts are extremely low and regulated to an amount that is safe for human contact. Of course, choosing a product that is completely free of these chemicals is optimal, but oftentimes more “organic” self-care products are more costly and can be both inaccessible to the Black and Brown women who research has shown are the demographic of people who are impacted the most by the presence of cancer causing chemicals in hair products.
On one hand, it makes sense for the FDA to try and ban products that are believed to possibly increase the risk of multiple kinds of cancer. But placing bans and creating laws around this issue will disrupt the lives of many Back people until they have a more healthy alternative. Now that this information has been shared, what will you use to care for your hair?
By Gabrielle Bolton, Freshman, Howard University
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