black hair care

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology says black women who relax their hair have a higher chance of developing fibroids than those who don’t relax. Fibroids are benign tumors that form in the uterus. I’ve been watching this matter simmer for several days on the Internet. While I am surprised that many have attacked the study, its methods, and the people who link to it, the information itself is not shocking.

I stopped relaxing my hair almost 20 years ago because I didn’t see the point of using a product that burned my scalp. It didn’t help that it was expensive and required me to spend more time than I liked in hair salons.

Regardless of what this new study says, it’s clear that putting lye and similar chemicals on the scalp is not a good idea. As much as I hated Chris Rock’s “Good Hair,” the film made one very clear point. The active ingredients found in relaxers can, over time, dissolve an aluminum can.

Researchers also have been sounding the alarm about endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, in black hair and skin care products for years. I know I’ve been reading about them for what seems like forever. EDCs have been linked to reproductive health issues, birth defects, breast cancer, and heart disease.

I am not going to wait for more, larger, well-funded studies to prove whether these most recent studies and others like them are on point. I don’t know when that’s going to happen or whether it will happen. I also don’t have a lot of confidence that when the answer finally bubbles to the surface that anything will be done about it. Besides, for many of us, it will be too late.

Unless the manufacturers of these products decide to change them, black women have only two options. We can continue to relax and use beauty products with questionable ingredients, or we can arm ourselves with knowledge and take our money elsewhere.

5 thoughts to “Relax Today, Fibroids Tomorrow?

  • Laura M.

    I agree. The toxicity of the chemicals seems obvious. Studies are great but they do seem like a very slow moving way to come to a final decision.

    Why didn’t you like Good Hair? (Did you already write a post about this?)

    • Honeysmoke

      I wanted to see a thorough documentary. I guess that’s my own fault. I thought the film needed to be a documentary, or a comic’s take on the relaxers. One or the other, not both.

  • Ellie {Musing Momma}

    Eek – that is very scary! Do you know by chance which sorts of products include EDCs? I use shea butter leave-in conditioning cream on my boys’ hair. I’d guess that is okay and it is the harsher products that women tend to use that are more toxic?

  • Aisha G of Hartlyn Kids

    I stopped relaxing long ago because one day I thought – this can’t be right to seep into my scalp! glad studies got around to making the hunch something real

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