Hair Relaxers- Interesting facts on natural and chemically treated hair

By now most of us have heard of the new movement for black women to embrace their curls; there are constant debates on whether chemically treated (popularly known as relaxed) hair or natural hair should be the new standard. While the growing consensus is that natural hair is better and should be worn proudly, let us look beyond this forming bias and focus on facts and facts alone.

Until recently, most black moms out there having being relaxing their little girls’ hair and we don’t need to ask why. The early morning routine of getting your child ready for school, the ease with which you can run a brush through your little girl’s hair and have her ready in a few short minutes is the leading reason why most moms opt to chemically straighten their kid’s hair. Below are a few fascinating facts about the natural and relaxed hair that might just sway you into spending those extra minutes.

The side effects of chemically changing the molecular structure of natural hair

For those of us who use or have used hair relaxers in the past, or for even those mildly curious minds, we have all wondered at some point how do hair relaxers really work? The average hair follicle of a black person tends to be on the thick side, this is because of the molecular bonds of the disulfides. These disulfide bonds are not only responsible for the thickness and texture of our hair, but also the curl pattern we exhibit. When a relaxer is used to straighten your hair, the molecular structure of your hair is essentially being changed, as the disulfide bonds are broken or destroyed. What this means, is that you lose all the side effects of the disulfide bonds (thickness, texture and curl pattern). Now, the question is what does this do to the health of hair?

There are many issues associated with the use of hair relaxers to straighten hair. However, several hair treatments have been included by many hair relaxers companies to mitigate issues associated with hair breakage. This does not take away the negative effects associated with the use of relaxers on hair. One of the interesting things associated with the use of hair relaxer is the ability to grow hair with its application. This leads us to the big question most black women want to know, ‘Does natural hair grow faster than relaxed hair?’ The answer to that question is “NO’, while relaxing your hair weakens it, it does not affect the growth rate of your hair. The inability of most black women to achieve a certain desired length is due to lack of what is known as ‘length retention’.

As we stated earlier, the chemically relaxed hair is hair in a weaken state, hence the propensity for your hair to break off is extremely high. This inevitably leads to an inability to pass a certain hair length. That said, most black moms are not overly concerned with the length of their child’s hair, but with how fast and neat they can get their daughter’s hair. 

There are products out there that neither harm (yes harm, we will get to that in a bit) nor alter the natural structure of your child’s hair and still gets the job done. Won’t you rather use clean and non-toxic natural products (some of the ingredients used in relaxers ARE TOXIC) on your children and keep your peace of mind, especially with medical conditions that are now being correlated with hair relaxers. Midori Family specializes in the manufacture of clean and non-toxic products. Their revolutionary brand uses and source only clean and organic ingredients for use in their manufacturing processes. They also produce a special brand of detanglers that work wonders on the natural black hair, so there is no need for moms out there dealing with the knotty strands to worry. Additionally, they have amazing hair conditioners made with natural and certified organic ingredients. They work excellent for both natural and chemically treated hair.

The medical correlations of hair relaxers and uterine fibroids in black women

For years, scientist have been baffled by the extremely disproportionate rates at which black women and white women develop uterine fibroids (about 80% more likely in a black women). Before we delve any further, let us first examine what uterine fibroids (medical name; uterine leiomyomata) are.

Uterine fibroids is the development of the non-cancerous tumors on or in the muscles of the uterus. This can result in gynecological morbidity and is the leading cause of hysterectomies (the removal of the uterus) performed in the United States. Aside from this gynecological morbidity, other signs that a woman may have uterine fibroids are heavy bleeding and extremely painful periods. So you may ask, what exactly do uterine fibroids have to do with hair relaxers? [1]

Well as some of us may know, the hair care industry isn’t regulated by FDA, and as such, some companies may choose not to inform their customers that the hair relaxers they produce contain Phthalates and parabens. Whether they choose to include this in the ingredients section or hide them under names such as fragrances/perfume, it is believed that most, if not all hair relaxers contain these chemicals.

These ingredients are known to be hormonally-active compounds that can be absorbed through the skin and have been shown to have negative estrogenic effects on cells of animals experimented on. And as uterine tumors are dependent on estrogen, any disruption of the body’s natural estrogen production can cause the development of fibroids. The early onset of puberty in girls was found to be more common in African American girls than even their counterpart in the Caribbean. Some of these young girls began their menstrual cycle before the age of 10 and there is a high correlation between girls that begin their menstrual cycle before the age of 10 and development of uterine fibroids later in life. [1]

So the next time your daughter asks to get her hair straightened, you should consider investing in a good hair straightener for the occasional change of looks or simply embracing your beautiful curls. Not only do hair relaxer contain hormone disrupting compounds, but also the active ingredient ‘lye’ (sodium hydroxide). In the production of hair relaxers, the sodium hydroxide used, is never completely absorbed in the formulation process because this is needed to break those disulfide bonds.

Sodium hydroxide is known to be harmful to body tissues and can cause lesions, chemical burns, skin irritation, hair loss and dermatitis. The hormone disrupting compounds mentioned earlier, then gain direct access into the blood stream from these lesions, chemical burns and sores caused by sodium hydroxide. Hence, a higher percentage of these compounds are absorbed into our bodies, increasing our chances of developing uterine fibroids. In a study done on over 23,000 African American women, scientists have positively correlated the number of burns, and duration of hair relaxer use with the increased occurrence of uterine fibroids in African American women. [1]

With the ever increasing evident pointing to hair relaxer as one of the causes of the increased fibroid occurrence in black women, it becomes a question of if hair relaxers are worth the tremendously increased risk of uterine fibroids. Here at Midorifamily, we believe in the clean and organic lifestyle, hence the majority of our ingredients are actually food grade and have zero to minimal toxicity. Explore the clean natural product we have developed for the improved and continued health of your hair.

Be Bold and Beautiful!

Reference

1. Lauren A. Wise*, Julie R. Palmer, David Reich, Yvette C. Cozier, and Lynn Rosenberg * , “Hair Relaxer Use and Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata in African-American Women”, Slone Epidemiology Center, Boston University, 1010 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215 . Accepted for publication September 9, 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3282879/


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