Surprising Health Risks Associated with Hair Relaxer Products Marketed to Black Girls and Women

This episode features an insightful conversation with journalist Linda Villarosa, focusing on her New York Times Magazine article, “The Disturbing Truth About Hair Relaxers.” Linda discusses the surprising health risks associated with hair relaxer products and other hair products marketed to Black girls and women, including links to uterine cancer and various reproductive health issues. Through her extensive research, she reveals the systemic issues in the cosmetic industry and the regulatory gaps that disproportionately affect Black women. 

Listeners will gain a deeper understanding of the cultural and historical context of hair straightening in the Black community, the potential health impacts of hair relaxers, and the importance of better regulation and personal choices in mitigating these risks. Tune in to hear about potential solutions and how we can support a shift towards safer, more natural hair care practices.

Go deeper and read the research underpinning Villarosa’s article:+

– A 2022 study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that frequent users of hair straighteners were significantly more likely to develop uterine cancer.

– Over the past two decades, researchers like Tamarra James-Todd from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have conducted numerous studies revealing the harmful effects of chemicals found in hair relaxers, such as formaldehyde and phthalates. These substances are known to disrupt endocrine function and are linked to health issues like early menstruation and reproductive cancers (Harvard School of Public Health) (Fibroid Fighters).

Despite the mounting evidence, these products remain largely unregulated in the U.S., contrasting with stricter regulations in Europe. This lack of regulation has led to continued exposure and harm, with many Black women still using these products due to societal pressures and norms regarding hair aesthetics (Gatekeepers News).

Get Inspired:

– bell hooks, “Straightening Our Hair” in *Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black

Discover videos related to Black girl natural hair on TikTok.

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