If you’ve been feeling sick lately, there’s a chance that your hair products might be the cause. According to a report by Black Women for Wellness, an LA-based research and advocacy group, hair care products for black women might contain harmful chemicals that make you sick.
Called “Natural Evolutions: One Hair Story”, the 60-page report highlights the results of five years of research. This includes data collection, focus groups, interviews with African American beauty professionals and literature reviews.
The report notes that twice as much as other ethnic groups, black women spend close to $9 billion on just beauty products. Come 2017, the black hair care industry should reach an astounding $500 billion. Despite this, a lot of products used by black women are never researched for toxicity. And when they are, researchers have found these products to be among the most toxic on the market.
The report listed the toxic ingredients, including propylparaben, linalool methylparaben and DMDM hydantoin. Many of these compounds disrupt one’s endocrine system, meaning users have a 1.4 higher chance of experiencing puberty early.
These products, from hair detanglers to hair perms and chemical hair oils*, can trigger puberty in girls as young as 2 years old. DMDM, for one, is an agent that releases formaldehyde as well as an allergen and a skin toxicant. The chemicals also cause uterine fibroids, which affects up to 80 percent of black women at some point in their lives.
If that wasn’t enough, these hair care products also contain chemicals linked to respiratory disorders, from bleaching agents to ammonia and formaldehyde. Women who are constantly exposed to them–like hairdressers–experience symptoms like tightness in the chest, coughing and recurring sneezes.
When Black Women for Wellness interviewed Black hair care professionals, they discovered that 9% of these professionals had health issues concerning their reproductive system. A lot of them also reported chemical burns, headaches and dizziness.
This report is shocking, to say the least. The companies manufacturing black women’s beauty products should clearly list all their ingredients so that potential buyers can know what toxins they are exposing themselves to. On that note, there should be measures to safeguard the public from these kinds of products. This research will hopefully be the first of many, and the industry should be forced to take measures to remove the toxicity their products.