Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen a change in beauty standards taking shape in many ways. From the “clean” beauty movement to the “green” and “natural” beauty movement, the trends have taken over how many of us wear our hair and makeup today, along with the types of brands we choose when doing so. Makeup gurus, hair stylists, and beauty experts still use a host of products that include chemicals, but everyone from the ordinary woman to celebrities are embracing their natural hair, skin, and beauty and opting for products that are clean and green, or just plain au natural. While this  beauty trend is prevalent and successful, there is still a large percentage of women who still turn to chemical laden products to support their beauty routines and, according to scientific studies, are putting themselves at risk for physical ailments like uterine fibroids that can completely alter their standard of living.

Are your chemical hair treatments causing fibroids?

The link between chemical hair treatments and uterine fibroids has been study for quite some time now and the results are concerning. Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that form along the uterus wall of a woman and can vary in size from the size of a small seed to the size of a large grapefruit. The fibroids can impact women from various races, backgrounds, and ages and there are various risk factors such as family history, age, and weight. However, over the last several years, specialists have found that a risk factor that was previously not considered are chemical hair treatments.

In a recent study done by the American Journal of Epidemiology, scientists found that women that have had chemical relaxers, which cause burns and scalp lesions, are more likely to have uterine fibroids. The evidence, as of now, is more of an association between chemical relaxers and uterine fibroids, there is certainly evidence to support the theory that the relaxers can have a negative effect on a woman’s body, outside of the health of her hair.

Why are chemical hair treatments such an issue?

The real problem, when it comes to chemical relaxers and hair straighteners, is that the chemicals that are found in hair relaxers are not regulated by government organizations such as the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The ingredients list does not have to include all of the items in the product which means harmful ingredients, such as phthalates, are not listed clearly. So, when women who use chemical relaxers go to salons for treatment or buy at-home treatments, there is no way to say for sure what’s in that small bottle of liquid or cream. Moreover, the strength of the chemicals often times cause open wounds on your scalp allowing for the chemicals to seep into your body and blood stream.

There has been extensive research that has revealed a staggering disparity between white and black women that suffer from uterine fibroids and many researchers believe chemical relaxers have a hand in it as many more black women use chemical relaxers. A survey was conducted that included 23,580 black women that were chemical relaxer consumers revealed a disturbing connection between uterine fibroids and their chemical hair processing. At the end of the 12 year study conducted between 1997 to 2009, over 7,000 participants were diagnosed with uterine fibroids. The participants that were heavier relaxer users made up a large portion of the group of uterine fibroid sufferers. All of the research and data weighs poorly in the favor of black women as opposed to white women. Chemical relaxers are not only destroying the naturally curly texture of black women’s hair but they are putting their health on the line which is, in retrospect, totally not worth it.

And what about other chemical hair treatments?

There are various hair straightening and smoothing treatments that are marketed towards curly, wavy, and kinky haired women. While relaxers receive the most backlash when it comes to the controversy surrounding uterine fibroids, other chemical hair care treatments are not exempt. General treatments like hair bleaching and dying are not anything to be too concerned about as hair dyes and bleaches are a part of the regulated body care products, according to the FDA. However, new fad treatments like Japanese Straightening or Brazilian Keratin treatments are not regulated and can, just like chemical relaxers, cause lesions and open wounds in your scalp allowing for the chemicals to seep into your body and wreak havoc.

Finding the balance between your hair and your health

The truth is that chemical hair treatments, whether they are for straightening your naturally curly hair or simply toning it down, can pose a health risk. When you choose to apply a relaxer or keratin treatment, think about the chemicals that can seep into your bloodstream causing fibroids and other incurable health issues.

Learning how to work with the naturally curly texture of your hair can be what saves you years of pain and future health issues.


Article credit: Latifah Miles is a freelance writer and blogger at youngfabulousandnatural.com, hailing from Northern NJ. Her work is strongly rooted in empowering everyone to be the best versions of themselves.

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