Natural Hair Relaxers May Not So Natural After All

Natural Hair Relaxers May Not So Natural After All : Are natural hair relaxers really natural? It’s a question that many people may ask themselves when considering their hair care options. The hair beauty industry has massive potential as a multi-billion dollar industry, with hair care being one of the top sectors. Hair relaxing is a popular method of hair care that involves the use of chemical relaxers to straighten and smooth the hair.

While there are a variety of hair relaxers available on the market, some people may prefer to use natural alternatives in an effort to avoid potential negative side effects of hair relaxers. However, it is important to understand that even natural hair relaxers are not entirely free from chemicals and may still have potential risks.

Benefits of hair relaxing:

With the global cosmetics industry expected to grow about $716 billion by 2025, it pays to know if what you are using is right for you. Here are popular reasons why people use hair relaxers.

  • Reduces knots and tangles: Relaxing hair can remove tangles and knots, improving the texture of the hair and reducing breakage during combing.
  • Reduces frizz: Relaxing improves the texture of hair that may otherwise hold a lot of water and swell, resulting in frizz.
  • Saves time: Relaxing makes it easier to work with hair, allowing for faster and more convenient styling.
  • Allows for new styling options: Relaxing makes it easier to try new styles and update your look with a different style every day.

Types of hair relaxers:

  • Lye-based relaxers: These are the most common type of relaxer and contain high amounts of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide as the active ingredient. These chemicals work by breaking down the bonds in the hair, making it more pliable and easier to straighten.
  • Lye-free relaxers: Lye-free relaxers use alternatives to lye as the active ingredient, such as guanidine hydroxide or ammonium thioglycolate. These relaxers are generally considered to be milder than lye-based relaxers, but they may still cause irritation or other negative effects in some people.
  • Low-lye composition relaxers: They are basically like lye relaxers but with milder effects. Heavy application may lead to damage to the scalp.
  • Thio relaxers: They have Ammonium thioglycolate as the main ingredient. They are more acidic compared to metal hydroxide relaxers. Hair must be neutralized post-relaxing with hydrogen peroxide or sodium bromate. Apple cider vinegar is a good natural alternative to use as a thio-neutralizer.

It cannot be definitively said that there are natural relaxers. All types of relaxers have a percentage of chemical composition. The closest to natural relaxers there can be are low-lye composition relaxers, although they have similar side effects to lye relaxers.

Chemical composition of hair relaxers:

Lye: As mentioned, lye is the main active ingredient in many hair relaxers. It is a mixture of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide and other hydroxide-containing solutions, such as lithium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide. Lye has a strong alkaline pH, which is what makes it effective at breaking down the bonds in the hair.

Other chemicals: Depending on the type of relaxer, there may be other chemicals present in the formula. For example, some natural relaxers may contain ingredients such as keratin, argan oil, coconut oil, or other conditioning agents. These ingredients may help to nourish the hair and improve its texture. Other ingredients, such as preservatives or fragrances, may be added to help preserve the product or improve its scent.

Natural vs. unnatural hair relaxers

While the term “natural” may be thrown around to describe some hair relaxers for marketing reasons, no hair relaxer is completely free from chemicals. Even natural relaxers contain ingredients that are derived from plants or other natural sources, but they may also contain other chemicals such as preservatives or fragrances that may be irritating to some people.

It is important to do your own research and carefully read the ingredient list of any hair relaxer you are considering using. To be on the safe side of the great natural relaxer debate, look for ingredients that you recognize and understand, and avoid products that contain a long list of unfamiliar chemicals.

Risks of using hair relaxers

  • Dryness and brittleness: Hair relaxers can be drying to the hair, causing it to become brittle and prone to breakage. This is especially true of lye-based relaxers, which can be very harsh on the hair.
  • Damage to hair shafts: The chemicals in hair relaxers can penetrate the hair shaft and weaken it, making it more prone to damage. This can lead to dry, brittle hair that is more prone to breakage and split ends.
  • Scalp irritation or burns: Lye-based relaxers are particularly harsh and can cause irritation or even burns to the scalp if not applied properly. This is why it is important to follow the instructions carefully and only use relaxers under the supervision of a professional.

Uterine and ovarian cancer risks & Hair Relaxers

There have been some studies that suggest that the use of hair relaxers may be associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer, particularly uterine and ovarian cancer. However, the evidence for hair relaxer products linked to cancer is not strong and more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Chemicals found in hair relaxers, both natural and unnatural, may have estrogenic activity, which means that they may mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Estrogen is a hormone that is important for reproductive health, but high levels of estrogen or exposure to estrogen-like chemicals may increase the risk of certain cancers, such as uterine and ovarian cancer.

One study found that women who used hair relaxers had a higher risk of uterine leiomyomata, or benign uterine tumors, compared to those who did not use relaxers. The study also found that the risk increased with the frequency of relaxer use and the number of years that the relaxers were used.

Hair relaxers come into contact with the scalp due to excessive application. The scalp may have abrasions, cuts or scratches that expose it even more to the chemical in the hair relaxers. They then seep into the bloodstream and are transported further into the lymphatic system. The chemicals flow through the blood vessels in the uterus and other reproductive organs, causing uterine cancer, fibroids and cysts.

Symptoms to look out for

  • Vaginal bleeding, especially after menopause
  • Lumps in the lower abdomen and pelvic area
  • Sharp pains in the lower abdomen
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Inexplicable weight loss

Another study found that women who used hair relaxers had a higher risk of ovarian cancer, particularly African-American women. The study also found that the risk increased with the frequency of relaxer use and the number of years that the relaxers were used.

Hair relaxers were found to contain a range of endocrine-disrupting compounds that are likely to cause ovarian cancer. The compounds are:

  • Phthalates
  • Parabens
  • Cycloxiloxanes and,
  • metals

It is important to note that these studies did not prove that hair relaxers directly cause uterine or ovarian cancer. However, the results suggest that there may be a link between the use of hair relaxers and an increased risk of these cancers. From this studies it is also apparent that these cases of uterine cancer are more prevalent in black women because of the pressure to have flowing natural hair which drives them to extensive use of hair straightening products compared to other women.

Other Hair Relaxer side effects

  • Itching and irritation of the scalp
    Excessive application of relaxer causes the extra relaxer to sit on your scalp. The chemicals will react with the skin and cause inflammation of the scalp that is irritating. The temperature of the scalp accelerates the reaction.
  • Permanent Hair loss
    The use of relaxers may cause thinning and breakage of hair. Relaxers will permanently change the texture of your hair. this will make the hair weaker the more it is relaxed. This is particularly prevalent in African American women.
  • Hormone disruption
  • Alzheimer’s disease

It is always a good idea to be cautious when using any beauty products, including hair relaxers. If you are concerned about the potential risks of hair relaxers, it may be a good idea to consider alternative hair care methods or to use natural hair relaxers sparingly and in moderation.

Remember that every person’s hair and body is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to find what works best for you and your individual needs. As always, it starts with following the instructions on any hair care product carefully and to consulting with a professional if you have any concerns or questions.

Hair Relaxer Lawsuits: What You Need to Know.

A 28-year-old woman filed a lawsuit against L’Oreal hair relaxer and four other companies after she was diagnosed with uterine cancer that arose out of her perennial use of hair straightening products since grade school. The diagnosis cut short her dreams of having children. This case has the potential to open the floodgates of lawsuits against hair straightening companies after long suspicions of a possible link between hair relaxers and cancers.

Possible damages that a court can award

While the court will consider a hair relaxer lawsuit depending on the facts presented before it, courts will usually award compensation for:

  • Economic loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Medical expenses
  • Punitive and exemplary damages and,
  • Any other damages that it will consider appropriate.

FAQs About Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

Can hair relaxers affect hairdressers?

The chemical in hair relaxers affects hairdressers too. Their skin may be exposed to the chemicals, especially if they do not put on protective gear such as gloves.

Can I sue a company for damages to my health?

Yes, like in the Jenny Mitchell case. You can use a hair-relaxing company for damages to your health. Contact our attorneys today to schedule a consultation and seek redress for any damages.

Can I recover damages from hair relaxers that claim to be natural?

All hair relaxers have a chemical composition, albeit how little. These chemicals have negative implications for their users in the long term despite the claim that they are 100% natural. It is, therefore, possible to sue despite the claim that they are natural or organic.




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Natural Hair Relaxers May Not So Natural After All

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