SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Straight, bouncy and flowing hair is something many black women use chemicals to achieve. However, new research has shown that the products used to achieve that look are linked to several health concerns and now the FDA is moving to ban it altogether.
Hair straightening creams also known as relaxers have been a part of black hair care since they were introduced to the population in 1909. But imagine a staple hair product that you use on a regular basis containing the same chemical they use to embalm dead bodies. Well, that’s what health experts say is the reality for many African-American women who are now suffering from medical issues after a lifetime use of the product.
“I started using relaxers at an early age I was wondering why my hair was thinning and wondering why and some young ladies might be dealing with the same thing wondering why you get that burning right in the top and sore spots and it’s from the relaxers,” said Theresa Jameson, Founder Savannah Beauty College.
Relaxers are a staple in the black household because the chemicals that are applied on the hair shaft loosen the curl pattern making it easier to manage and style. But after decades of medical research and many women suffering the consequences of using the products the FDA has moved to ban chemical straightening creams that contain formaldehyde. The odorless colorless gas that is found in fertilizers, disinfectants and many more.
“A lot of clients. And they wanted relaxers and as we began to talk they talked about the different ailments and the different things that are going wrong with them and I tell them you need to get away from these relaxers you need to go natural and they say well, ‘I will do it next time’ and I say ‘Why can’t we do it now’,” Jameson explained.
Master cosmetologist Kay Cantrell wants women to know if they’re not ready to go natural but are still concerned about their health and hair there are options for you too.
She said, “So, we offer a chemical-free treatment which takes amino acids and it has the same PH as an orange or lemon and it doesn’t have the chemicals like formaldehyde or anything like that those components that help straighten your hair it’s temporary it last 12 to 13 weeks.”
Kay also wants the public to stay aware and informed on the products you are putting into and on their bodies.
“As a consumer, you’re going to have to look out for things that may not be what they say they are don’t always pay attention to the big bold writing in the front of the package really read and if you have questions call the number on the box or send an email that’s what its for,” Cantrell told News 3.
Kay also recommends telling the FDA if you experience any adverse effects from using these beauty products so they are made aware. Hair relaxers containing formaldehyde have been linked to several different types of cancers and there are currently several class action lawsuits against companies who use these chemicals in their products.
We will continue to update you as we learn more.