Hair straightening products are popular among women from many demographics, especially black women. Many women prefer the look of straight hair, even if they have naturally curly or wavy hair. However, hair straightening products, especially chemical-based (rather than heat-based) products, can case numerous adverse health effects. It is common knowledge that hair straightening chemicals may lead to dry hair, but there are far greater health risks posed by these products. The health conditions that may be caused or worsened by hair straightening chemicals include dermatitis, asthma, hair loss, and even cancer.
Read on to learn more about the negative health effects of hair straightening products.
Dermatitis and asthma
Hair smoothing products, which are often used before hair straightening products, can produce noxious fumes when exposed to heat. This can happen if you use both hair-smoothing chemicals and straightening iron. Perhaps the most dangerous gas that can be created by exposing straightening chemicals to heat is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a highly toxic gas that is often used when embalming dead bodies. This gas can cause skin irritation known as dermatitis. Dermatitis caused by hair straightening chemicals may show up on the scalp, neck, or forehead. Even the skin in your sinuses can become irritated due to hair straightening chemicals. It can even cause or exacerbate asthma.
Hair straightening products contain many common allergens. Even products marketed as hypoallergenic can cause adverse reactions. The allergens commonly found in hair straightening products include parabens and fragrances. This is why so many women have allergic reactions after using hair straightening chemicals. These reactions may show up right away, or they only show up after repeated use. Allergic reactions to hair straightening chemicals can include skin irritation and eye irritation.
Permanent hair loss
Hair straightening chemicals can damage hair in a variety of ways. These chemicals can even cause permanent hair loss. This is because they damage the follicles that the hair grows out of. Long-term usage of hair straightening products can damage hair follicles irreparably. The problem is often worse among women who also use a straightening iron. However, using hair straightening chemicals alone can still lead to hair loss.
Recently, products used for hair straightening and uterine cancer have been linked. Chemical hair straighteners may contain estrogen-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs have been linked to higher rates of cancer, including uterine cancer. As black women are more likely to use hair straightening products, this connection may even help to explain the higher rates of uterine cancer among black women. However, any woman who uses hair straightening products on a long-term basis may be at a higher risk of cancer. This problem is so serious that many lawsuits are being filed against manufacturers of hair straightening products who were allegedly negligent in offering products with such health risks. It is important to keep in mind that EDCs can also increase the risk of other types of cancer, such as breast cancer or ovarian cancer.