Serious news regarding the use of hair chemicals continues to emerge and I must share it with you! Let me first begin by stating that I am not against chemical hair relaxers or dyes. I got my first relaxer at age 10 and my last one at age 30—a year after starting my hair research company and gaining knowledge about these chemicals’ potentially dangerous health links.
Since 1999, I have studied thousands of African American hair loss cases, many of which were a result of chemical relaxers. However, it was interesting that many of these women were also suffering from uterine fibroids (non-cancerous growths). The fibroids cause longer and heavier monthly bleeding, which can result in having to take iron pills for anemia. In the 2009 Chris Rock film, Good Hair, I specifically gave expert advice about adverse hair issues from the use of chemical relaxers.
For years, many have thought it was ridiculous for hair chemicals to get into our reproductive tract. However, the chemicals—especially the hydroxides in lye relaxers (sodium hydroxide) and no-lye relaxers, texturizers and kiddie perms (calcium hydroxide, lithium hydroxide)—can absorb and “burn” into your skin through the numerous pores, cuts and scratches on the scalp’s surface. These chemicals can not only damage your hair roots, but they can also absorb into your scalp’s abundant blood supply and enter your bloodstream. This can result in your body producing hormone-disrupting chemicals affecting both your reproductive system and breasts.
So when studies were published in 2011 linking chemical hair relaxers to early menses, uterine fibroids, infertility, and early hysterectomies, I was not surprised as I had already suspected a potential link in the early 2000s.
But now, an even more severe health link has been confirmed. The National Institutes of Health performed an eight-year study of over 46,000 women of all races between the ages of 35–74 that linked chemical hair relaxers and dyes to breast cancer. African American women had an astounding 45 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to other races.
With this major new health link to breast cancer and reproductive issues, we must continue to sound the alarm and share this critical information. Early and constant exposure to these chemicals makes one more likely to be susceptible to hormone disruption. Given the more serious health links, we must be extra cautious. Therefore, it has been my ongoing passion to educate against the use of hair chemicals in girls under 18.
If you are 18 or older and have no hormone health issues yet, but still desire to use hair chemicals, please protect your entire scalp with a petroleum base to reduce absorption or use natural alternatives. Continue to join me in helping to spread this critical, life-saving information!