A recent study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that using chemical hair relaxers frequently may significantly increase uterine cancer risk. Hair relaxers are lotions or creams used by women with tight curls or very curly hair, as these products make their hair easier to straighten due to the chemicals they contain. While some have a strong alkali as the main ingredient, others are based on highly toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and might also contain endocrine-disrupting substances, including phthalates, bisphenol A, and parabens.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, assessed the health of 33,000 women who regularly used different hair products for 11 years. Women who had used hair straightening products were nearly twice as likely to develop uterine cancer than those who had not. According to estimates, a little over 4% of women who regularly use hair relaxers will develop uterine cancer by the age of 70. Still, the bad news does not end here – women who frequently use hair straightening products are also at high risk for endometriosis and ovarian cancer.
Researchers warned that the endocrine-disrupting chemicals in hair relaxers, which can take a heavy toll on the hormonal system, might have other reproductive effects, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and breast cancer. In November of this year, a hair relaxer lawsuit was filed against L’Oréal and five other companies by a woman from Illinois. She believes the cause of her endometriosis and uterine cancer, which she developed at 39, to be the use of products such as Dark & Lovely, and Just for Me.
Other companies suspected of including harmful chemicals in their hair relaxers are Strength of Nature, Godrej Son Holdings, Revlon, and SoftSheen Carson. However, this is by no means a comprehensive list, as dozens of manufacturers might allow endocrine-disrupting chemicals in their products. To avoid toxic exposure from hair-strengthening products and lower your uterine and ovarian cancer risk, it is advisable to seek natural, safe alternatives. You can use four non-toxic options instead of chemical hair relaxers.
1. Heat Styling
This is a great way to tame curly or frizzy hair and give it some definition, and the only thing you need to heat style your hair is a flat iron. The cost of a quality heat tool can reach $200, but you will be able to use it for years. Curling wands and blow dryers are good options for this hair straightening. You can style your hair in the comfort of your home, and while the process can take up to one hour or longer, no toxic chemicals will be involved. To avoid damaging your hair, you can use a heat protectant spray.
2. Oil Treatments
Oil treatments have numerous benefits as a natural and effective alternative to chemical hair relaxers. You probably have one of the oils that can be used to straighten your hair in your home, such as olive, coconut, or avocado oil. This method is also chemical-free and will nourish your hair, as these oils contain vitamins A, D, and E, stimulate cell growth, and have antifungal and antibacterial properties, preventing dandruff and other scalp problems. The only downside of using oils to straighten your hair is that they might weigh down your hair.
3. Keratin Treatments
Keratin treatments are another effective alternative to hair relaxers, and they can be done either at home or at the salon. Nevertheless, before using this method, you should make sure the product does not contain formaldehyde, as some formulations do. These hair treatments introduce keratin protein into your hair to seal the cuticle, making your hair shinier and stronger. Another noteworthy benefit is that they last for six months or even longer, so you will save money and time if you choose to have a keratin hair treatment. Using a hair straightening method so rarely will also be in good condition, as you will avoid damaging it.
4. Blow Drying
There are multiple hair dryers you can buy to straighten your hair on the market, so you will be able to find one suitable for your hair type. Using a blow dryer, you will have smooth hair, and this method will also preserve your hair’s natural volume. For the best results possible, you should make sure to use the blow dryer when your hair is 70% dry and use a comb to straighten it. Blow dryers uniformly spread heat so your hair can dry and straighten easily. The drawback of this method is that repeated use can reduce the brightness or shine of your hair and can weaken your hair, but using certain products can help you avoid damage.
Jonathan Sharp is Chief Financial Officer at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. The law firm, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, specializes in toxic exposure and defective product cases, assisting women who developed uterine cancer, endometriosis, and ovarian cancer as a result of using chemical hair relaxers. Jonathan Sharp is responsible for case evaluation, management of firm assets, and financial analysis.