Trailblazing Triumph: Black Women at the Forefront of FDA Bans on Toxic Hair Products

Pursuing perfection in beauty and personal care often comes at a cost. For many black women, that cost has been disproportionately high due to the widespread use of toxic chemicals in hair products. However, they spearhead movements to ban harmful ingredients and promote safer alternatives.

This article delves into the journeys of these trailblazers and their triumphs. We will examine how they played a pivotal role in banning hair products with formaldehyde.

Why Black Women Straighten Their Hair?

For decades, black women have grappled with societal pressures to conform to Eurocentric standards of beauty. The thing is that most of these women have curly hair. However, they face numerous challenges when wearing their natural hair.

Many black women hate their hair, which is one reason Doja Cat recently shaved her head. According to Vogue, it was becoming impractical to wear a wig, and she didn’t like her natural hair. Therefore, she shaved her head and eyebrows in a live Instagram session. The article also states that the rapper Ice Spice faced backlash and was mocked through memes for her short auburn curls.

Another example can be seen in the workplace. Firstly, many women have to straighten their hair for job interviews. According to a PR Newswire article, around 66% of black women change their hair for a job interview. Moreover, 54% of these individuals feel they must straighten their hair, and 41% do so. This is because they feel it will help them succeed at interviews and get a job.

Secondly, even after getting a job, many must wear their hair straight at the workplace. As stated in a Harvard Business Review article, around 1/5th of the black women surveyed were sent back home for their hair.

The Problem With Straightening Hair Frequently

To overcome the perception of society about their natural hair, black women often resort to chemical relaxers, straighteners, and other products. However, these products have harmful ingredients like formaldehyde. These chemicals pose serious health risks, perpetuate the erasure of natural black hair textures, and reinforce harmful stereotypes.

Many studies have proven the link between hair straighteners and cancer. An NBC News article stated that a major study of over 33,000 US women found similar results. It was found that frequent or prolonged use of these products increases the risk of uterine cancer. Those who used them for more than five years or more than twice a year were at a 50% higher risk.

Since black women often use hair relaxers and straighteners, they are at more risk compared to others. This has even led to numerous lawsuits against major brands like L’Oreal and Revlon for their injuries. For instance, another NBC News article mentions Rhonda Terrell, who filed a federal suit against these companies.

She was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Since the cancer was aggressive, it spread to her abdomen and liver. Therefore, she had to undergo a hysterectomy surgery, where her uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes were removed.

According to TorHoerman Law, several such individuals have filed a hair straightener uterine cancer lawsuit. The plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers should have warned them about the potential hazards of their products. However, they neglected consumer health for their own profits.

If you have faced a similar situation, you can also file a hair straighteners uterine cancer lawsuit. All you need to do is find an experienced lawyer to represent you throughout the case. This will help increase your chances of winning the suit and receiving fair compensation for damages.

The Advocacy Movement

The movement to address the safety of hair products for black women gained momentum as alarming studies revealed the presence of harmful chemicals. These chemicals have been linked to a myriad of health issues, including cancer, reproductive harm, and respiratory problems.

Recognizing the situation’s urgency, many women came together to demand accountability from manufacturers and regulatory agencies. They say that black women have to face hair discrimination right from their childhood.

As pointed out in an NSU News post, black girls faced teasing and unwanted hair touching in schools. A study comprising 105 black or African American students aged 10-15 was conducted.

It was found that 14% to 54% of the girls faced verbal teasing and bullying from preschool or kindergarten. Moreover, touching hair without permission was experienced by:

  • 78% – 10-years-old
  • 50% – 11-year-olds
  • 81% – 12-year-olds
  • 65% – 13-year-olds
  • 70% – 14-year-olds

One of the pivotal moments in this advocacy movement was the 2019 release of the documentary “Natural Hair: The Movie.” It shed light on the health risks associated with chemical relaxers and other straightening treatments commonly used by black women.

The film sparked widespread awareness and ignited conversations about the need for safer alternatives in the beauty industry. Building on this momentum, advocacy groups such as the Women for Wellness and the Environmental Working Group launched activism campaigns.

These campaigns pressured the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to act against harmful hair product ingredients. Due to the growing concern and pressure, the FDA has listened to many women’s voices. The U.S. News & World Report states that the FDA is proposing a ban on formaldehyde in hair straighteners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Black Women Disproportionately Affected by Toxic Hair Products?

Black women are more likely to use hair care products due to societal pressure to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards. Additionally, systemic inequalities in access to healthcare and environmental justice contribute to higher levels of exposure to toxins in marginalized communities.

Are Natural or Organic Hair Products Always Safer?

Not necessarily. While products labeled as “natural” or “organic” may contain fewer synthetic chemicals, they can still pose risks if they contain allergens or irritants. Consumers need to research ingredients and choose products that prioritize safety and transparency.

What Can Individuals Do to Protect Themselves From Exposure to Toxic Hair Products?

Consumers can take several steps to minimize their exposure to harmful chemicals in hair products. For instance, they can read labels, research ingredients, choose products with fewer synthetic additives, and advocate for stricter regulations on cosmetic safety.

To conclude, the journey towards safer, more equitable beauty standards is far from over. However, significant strides have been made thanks to the unwavering dedication of black women advocates.

Their tireless efforts have catalyzed regulatory action and sparked vital conversations about representation, health equity, and the intersection of race and beauty. As we celebrate their triumphs, let us reaffirm our commitment to standing alongside them in the ongoing struggle for justice and equality.

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