An analysis of ingredients in 1,177 beauty and personal care products marketed to Black and Brown women, about one in twelve (12) was ranked highly hazardous on the EWG'sEWG's Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database scoring system, a free online resource for finding less-hazardous alternatives to personal care products.
The worst-scoring products marketed to Black women were hair relaxers, hair colors, and bleaching products. Each of these categories had an average product score indicating high potential hazards.
Hair relaxers are classified as creams or lotions marketed explicitly to Black and Brown women to "tame" their ethnic hair by making it smoother, straighter, and easier to manage daily.
In some studies, up to 90% of black and brown women have used hair relaxants and straighteners. Relaxers contain hormonally active & carcinogenic compounds, including phthalates, known to cause endocrine disruption. None must be listed separately as ingredients and are often broadly lumped into the "fragrance" or "perfume" categories.
Relaxer habits usually begin in formative childhood, and adolescence is likely a period of enhanced susceptibility to debilitating conditions resulting from exposure to these chemicals. In the 1990s, the first relaxer product for young Black girls, Just for Me ™, hit the market with a catchy advertising jingle that captured consumer attention.
It soon became one of the most popular straightening treatments, touting a no-lye formula designed gentler for children's sensitive scalps.
Have you or your friend used hair relaxers or been diagnosed with cancer of the ovaries?
Perm box women may be able to get legal help if they suffer from endometriosis symptoms.