The potential harm caused by relaxers may be far more serious than most of us realize. Although abstaining from using chemicals is ideal, many opt to relax their hair for an array of reasons: “it’s too humid where I live”, “I don’t like my natural curl pattern”, “natural hair takes too much time and effort” and the list goes on.
Nevertheless, before deciding to get your next retouch, the fact is: relaxing your natural hair is dangerous to your health.
As a trichologist, I have access to FDA and Dermatology Association approved studies that link the ingredients in relaxers to increased risk of cancer, hormone disruption, Alzheimer’s disease, fibroids, cysts, developmental and reproductive damage, allergies, and the list goes on.
In the United States, hair relaxers are not even regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA states that they only monitor the safety of hair dyes and relaxers. They then go on to say both hair dye and hair relaxers can hurt you if you are not careful. In a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, relaxers are referred to as “a chemical concoctions that may be linked to fibroids that grow in the uterus and may contribute to premature menstruation in Black girls among other potentially harmful issues.” YIKES! So, the chemicals in relaxers can affect hairdressers as well as the ones receiving the relaxers; I think we owe it to ourselves to start demanding far more detailed answers to some serious questions regarding the overall impact of these products on our bodies.
Here is how chemicals from relaxers are passed throughout your body and cause harm: When you get a relaxer, it uses your body temperature to heat up on the scalp. The longer the relaxer sits on your hair to process, it begin to burn through your hair follicles, causing inflammation. From there, it begins to seep into your blood stream and move throughout your lymphatic system. When you urinate, you pass the chemicals from the relaxer through your reproductive system, causing fibroids, cysts and other bad elements to enter into your body.
The inflammation caused by the burning of your scalp, is the leading cause of dermatitis in African American women. Using relaxers also has a tendency to cause breakage and thinning of the hair. Given that relaxers are used to permanently alter your natural hair texture, your hair will become weaker and more likely to break the more you relax.
There are many alternatives to relaxers such as smoothing treatments (which are amino acid profiles) and blow-out services. While these alternative options aren’t permanent, straight hair should not be more important than your health! Whether to use relaxers, or remain natural is a decision that must be made by each individual. Nevertheless, for those who opt to use relaxers, do keep in mind that relaxing comes with a price.