Dangers of Relaxing Your Hair

 By Mary Wolff

For many women, choosing to embrace your natural hair is a journey of self-acceptance long overdue. For those still using relaxers from time to time, this information may make you rethink that decision.

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According to a study published in American Journal of Epidemiology, there are several reasons to consider skipping the relaxer. The report states, “Hair relaxers can cause burns and lesions in the scalp, facilitating entry of hair relaxer constituents into the body. The main ingredient of “lye” relaxers is sodium hydroxide; no-lye relaxers contain calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate, and “thio” relaxers contain thioglycolic acid salts. No-lye relaxers are advertised to cause fewer scalp lesions and burns than lye relaxers, but there is little evidence to support this claim. Products may also contain hormonally active compounds, such as phthalates, which are not required to be listed separately as ingredients and are often reported under the term “fragrances” or “perfume”. Not only do these products damage the scalp, the harmful chemicals in the relaxers can actually make their way into your blood stream and affect your health. Anything you put on your skin has the potential to be absorbed much deeper than that the layer of epidermis. The Center for Disease Control has already published a list of chemicals to avoid because they increase the risk of certain cancers. Many hair products, including relaxers, are not as closely regulated by the FDA, so manufacturers could still be using several potential harmful ingredients in their products. A study published in Carcinogenesis, a leading cancer research publication, reported a higher increase of breast cancer in for women using hair dyes and relaxers. While studies are still being performed to examine how these products affect a woman’s health, many have chosen to avoid the risk altogether and embrace their natural hair.

Aside from the dangers of the chemicals found in relaxers, they also have a tendency to dry out hair which can result in damage such as breakage. It can also have an effect on your natural curl pattern leading to a loss of definition after it wears off. From the medical concerns to the hair health issues, there are plenty of reasons to consider skipping your next relaxer treatment.
Sources
https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/175/5/432/175919/Hair-Relaxer-Use-and-Risk-of-Uterine-Leiomyomata
https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/carcin/bgx060

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