Why Should Women Refrain from Chemical Hair Straightening?

Every woman wants her hair to look stylish and stunning. For that many straighten their hair, as they feel it’s a benchmark for looking fashionable. It could be a personal choice or what they have seen around them in television commercials and social media content.

With the help of chemicals, it takes a few hours in a parlor to straighten curly or wavy hair. And while the outcome is shiny, straight hair, the after-effect can be very scary. Chemical hair straightening might lead to uterine cancer, endometriosis, breast cancer, and fibroids. Apart from that, other side effects include scalp inflammation, hair discoloration, increased frizz, and weakening of the hair. 

So, should women think twice before straightening or treating their hair chemically? The answer is yes. In this article, we will discuss the dangers linked to hair relaxers and straighteners that will help women make an informed decision.

Is Chemical Hair Straightening Unsafe?

The process of hair straightening includes the use of harsh chemicals like formaldehyde that break the natural structure of your hair and make it appear straight. This chemical is a carcinogen and can cause lung and breathing issues. Even the products that are said to be formaldehyde-free might have chemicals that release formaldehyde when they are heated.

Hair straightening products also include parabens that can affect hormone production and result in a hormonal imbalance. Some side effects of chemical hair relaxers and straighteners include:

  • Alopecia
  • Allergic reactions
  • Burned scalp and skin
  • Atrophied skin
  • Discolored hair
  • Hair shaft damage
  • Inflamed scalp
  • Eczema
  • Hair loss

A study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2022 found that women who straighten their hair chemically four times a year had a higher chance of developing uterine cancer. 

Another study done by the agency earlier linked the use of chemical hair straighteners to ovarian and breast cancer. Mostly, black women tend to be affected more by chemical hair straighteners than others because of their frequency of use.

Cancer and Other Health Issues 

Drugwatch News stated in October 2023 that breast and uterine cancer are caused by chemical hair treatments. Researchers think that formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens, and the toxic chemical DEHP are ingredients present in this chemical that can cause cancer.

Some researchers also think that the use of straighteners during adolescence can cause premenopausal breast cancer. Girls between the ages of 10 and 13 are more at risk because their breast tissues get exposed to harsh chemicals. Black women also have a higher risk of developing cancer than others, as they use hair straighteners frequently. 

According to Kelly Johnson-Arbor, medical director at the National Capital Poison Center, when chemicals get inside the human body, they don’t stay in it forever. They get metabolized and excreted through our kidneys.

However, she explained that using such chemicals frequently leads to an excess accumulation of them and can cause fatal health issues. The area in which the chemical is applied has a crucial role to play. For instance, the scalp, where hair straighteners are applied, tends to absorb more chemicals compared to any other body part and thereby cause harm.

Dr. Jordan Geller, an endocrinologist based in Florida, says that the chemicals block, interfere with, or mimic other hormones produced by the body. Even if the chemicals are applied in low doses, they can accumulate over several years and get effectively stored in the fat tissue of the body. Over time, the chemicals get leaked, and women face hormonal imbalance symptoms.

He further says that a woman with normal estrogen levels might have increased chemical levels in the body that act as estrogen. That can result in heavy periods and breast tenderness. It can even impact the hormone-producing thyroid gland as well.

Keeping in mind all these facts and factors, the FDA proposed to ban formaldehyde in hair-straightening products that are marketed in the United States. Hence, it is evident that chemical hair treatments can affect women adversely beyond hair fall and itchy scalps. The ones who have developed uterine or other types of cancer have filed a hair straightener cancer lawsuit to seek the justice and compensation that they deserve. 

Navigating the Legal Path 

The lawsuits about chemical hair straighteners are rather new and came into effect after the NIH released a study in 2022. The defendants include names like L’Oréal, and plaintiffs allege that those products were actively marketed to black women, who suffer the most from the after-effects.

TorHoerman Law states that if you have developed any type of cancer or faced severe hormonal issues after straightening your hair, you stand a chance to file a legal claim. A lawyer is the best person to help you decide whether you are eligible for legal compensation. Once you present all the healthcare data and medical documents, they can evaluate your case. They will also use vital evidence to build a strong case so that you get your compensation on time.

Finally, women have the right to decide the way they want to style their hair. While chemical hair straightening might appear glamorous, it leads to  health issues, like cancer and hormonal imbalance. Hence, women must choose wisely. Women who have developed uterine or any other cancer after a chemical hair treatment should seek both medical and legal aid. 


Leave a Comment