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Miscarriages, Asthma, Hair Loss & More Shocking Claims about Hair Relaxers by Nigerian Grad

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BellaNaija Beauty - BellaNaija - November 2015When it comes to hair care, we all know the hair salon can be a hazardous place. From the chemicals used is transforming dirty and ‘due’ hair to clean and relaxed tresses, to the salon attendants who put their health at risk applying these chemicals with their hands and inhaling all types of fumes. Beauty comes with many risks.

One of the most debated topics in the beauty industry now is the eradication of harmful hair relaxers. There have been many studies carried out that show why relaxers are harmful to the human body, but a new study we came across shows just how harmful relaxers really are.

A Nigerian Environmental Justice Research Coordinator for Black Women for Wellness – Teni Adewumi, has claimed that not only does using chemical relaxers lead to Asthma & Hair Loss, but it can also cause Uterine Fibroids, Dermatitis (inflammation of the skin e.g: eczema) and even Miscarriage.

Temi Adewumi

Temi Adewumi

According to a survey she conducted at African American salons in Inglewood, California, Teni discovered that most of the attendants complained of the same health concerns (listed above). Veteran hairstylists explained how they usually experienced symptoms whenever they worked with relaxers or other chemical hair straighteners. This has lead them to switch to working with natural styles instead.

Studies dating back to the 1980s show that stylists are at a risk of a range of chronic occupational health conditions including skin and respiratory diseases and adverse reproductive problems. And toxic chemicals found in hair straighteners and glue like formaldehyde, styrene and trichloroethylene can lead to cancer, liver damage and dermatitis.

The publication, TheAtlantic.com, had a chat with Teni to find out more on her survey and her ambition towards making beauty salons safer for the people, especially women.

Teni told The Atlantic- “When we held focus groups with salon workers, we found these stories of lack of education on chemical exposures and chemical-related health problems.” “Even though they had all gone to beauty school, there was just really no training around what these products could do to your body and to your reproductive system.”

Teni Adewumi - BellaNaija - November 2015001

Teni educating a hair stylist

This is in light of a lack of studies when it comes to more “ethnic” products targeted at women of color. According to Alexandra Scranton (Director of Science & Research, Environmental Organization, Women’s Voices for the Earth) there are certain gaps when it comes to clinical research that source from gender and race. These gaps especially affect women of color.

I could find almost no studies on salon workers who either are women of color or work with women of color, and work with the different products that are marketed to women of color—the hair relaxers, certain kinds of dyes, the hair glues for extensions.” “These are some of the products that seem to contain the most toxic chemicals, and no one has studied them.” Alexandra commented.

Here are 3 things we learned from the article that are key to note;
When it comes to ingredient listings on the back of products, the word ‘fragrance’ can stand for a number of chemicals no one has studied yet.
The Natural Hair movement has made a dent in the demand for chemical straighteners between 2008 and 2013. However, according to a 2013 Nielson report, African American women spend nine times more on ‘ethnic hair and beauty aids’ than any other group of women.
Salon workers are most at risk when it comes to hazardous health conditions in the beauty salon.

Teni and Alexandra are still working towards making beauty salons a safe place for women and men to visit and leave with their health intact. But it doesn’t end with them.

You too can talk to your hair stylist and local salon to educate them on the need for better working conditions for those who visit and work there. Their health should not be cost of the job.

Read the full article on TheAtlantic.com.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Citylab.com | BWWLA

Jennifer is the Beauty Editor & Style Representative of BellaNaija.com. Get in touch - Send an email to: beauty(at)bellanaija.com or style(at)bellanaija.com | Follow us on Instagram: @bellanaijabeauty OR @bellanaijastyle | Follow us on Twitter: @bellanaijastyle

26 Comments

  1. Mrs A

    November 19, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Lord have mercy!
    My instincts have been telling me that relaxers are dangerous for years!
    More research needs to be done.
    We need to get the word out.
    I’m going to carry this matter on my head because if we don’t no one will.
    If you can, write letters/email all the manufacturers of these products.
    Ask questions insist on straight answers.
    Write letters/email/call our elected officials whether you live in Nigeria, USA, Russia, where ever!
    Show them the findings of this research and ask them to do more about protecting the health of their citizens.
    If this indeed true something has to be done.
    Its in our hands.

    • Natu

      November 19, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Of course it is dangerous!!! The main ingredient found in relaxer is sodium hydroxide. #Blacklivesdontmatter

  2. Fabulous B

    November 19, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Keep preaching it. When I try to make an attempt to introduce organic products free of chemicals that are Harmful to women and men, I get turned down. My people here in Nigeria are so ignorant of this things. I spoke of dettol & others to be Harmful to some women and advised good hygiene. Forever Living Products, have organic hair products(shampoos,conditioners,gel,etc). It’s beyond advert and what you don’t know about FLP, don’t play ignorant like others. It’s a company that has its products present in over 150 countries. I use the products and many others too and it’s very effective. One of the challenges is that most Nigerians are not patient with organic products, it’s not as fast as your usual drugs and other fast effective products out there. That’s why prevention is better than cure. Even some of your doctors know about FLP and they use it but won’t recommend to the public bcos they’re scared of losing there jobs (public job ie government job). To reach me: pin:2BC07481. You don’t have to do MLM. You can just order the products for you and your loved one use. Also, gift them. Got several gift ideas for the festive period, birthdays, weddings, etc. Contact me. Thanks

    • More details pls

      November 19, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      FLP are ridiculously priced in my opinion. Why would I spend that much on aloe vera for example when I can get the plant and grow myself or get an organic one from amazon.

  3. RIFF RAFF

    November 19, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    The brain wash is too deep. African women will never stop killing themselves slowly cos they so badly want to resemble other beauty standards, trying to look like what they’ll never be, even with these hair and skin modifications. Black women are the cash cows of Asians who laff their way to the bank and at them for that matter. Waiting for deflectors: white women equally put harmful on themselves naah. As if na competition about who puts on the greatest amount of dangerous products

    • Cindy

      November 19, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      Some of you comment so distastefully. Not everyone relaxes their hair because they want to look white/Asian. Some of us do just because our hair is tough. Simple. Anyway this is an Eye-opener from the author. I actually relaxed my hair last earlier this year. Planning to go natural, I’ll trim it after a while. Now that I’m no longer a student, I guess I’ll be able to maintain it.

    • Natu

      November 19, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      @riffraff even when they try, their best ain’t never good enough. Lol nobody wants to look black not even the black woman. #shame

  4. me

    November 19, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    LMAO @ “WRITE ELECTED OFFICIALS IN NIGERIA”……..

  5. Marie Antoinette

    November 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    To all you naturalistas…
    TO EACH THEIR OWN!
    LIVE AND LET LIVE!
    Haba! Na wetin sef???

    • Babe

      November 19, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      Why so defensive? Is anyone stopping you from living? This is simple sharing of information. If you no like am, then move on. No one is forcing you to stop using relaxers. The choice is all yours. ..

  6. More details pls

    November 19, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    I clicked on this link looking forward to seeing some scientific evidence but all I have seen so far is “can”, “survey” etc Where are the figures and hard facts from this research? It is not enough to say “lead to” and “can cause”, back it up hard evidence not just anecdotal stories. A lot of hair products contain harmful products we’ve been told but please give us a clear correlation between them and all the diseases mentioned.

    “not only does using chemical relaxers LEAD to Asthma & Hair Loss, but it CAN also cause Uterine Fibroids, Dermatitis (inflammation of the skin e.g: eczema) and even Miscarriage. ”

    oxic chemicals found in hair straighteners and glue like formaldehyde, styrene and trichloroethylene CAN lead to cancer, liver damage and dermatitis.

    • Blessedheart

      November 19, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      I agree. I don’t see much of a scientific evidence. I also agree with the author that relaxers and other hair products contain toxic chemicals. The onus is on the salon attendants to employ safe practices. For example, the attendants in the salon I use do not touch the relaxer with their bare hands.

    • MC

      November 21, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      You don’t think it’s weird that something that CAN’T go on bare skin (hands) is okay to sit on your scalp?

    • sika

      November 19, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      I read another website where this claims are supported. africanhealthmagazine.com/2012/02/23/new-study-links-relaxers-to-fibroids/

      looks like this has been out there for a while. Sha, thank goodness i am team natural. i cant make my life complicated abeg

  7. more info needed

    November 19, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Please the heading is misleading, where’s the evidence that all the health issues listed can be directly linked to hair relaxer? Please do not sensationalize things, give us fact and not anecdotes and dem say dem say story

  8. aurora

    November 19, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Lmao. These naturalister hair movement is trying be like PETA and LGBT. Trying to force their opinions down our throats. We will continue to relax our hairs. You people will have to deal. Take a sit!

    • kel chuk

      November 19, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      ????. Watch out for a worldwide association soon.

  9. Person

    November 19, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    I thought everyone knew relaxers are known to specifically cause uterine fibroids? It’s not my business what anyone puts on their heads but the risks should be well stated.

    • Holly

      November 19, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      “Everyone knew”. “are known to”
      All these baseless unverifiable statements.

  10. HatsOff

    November 20, 2015 at 8:15 am

    No Scientific evidence??
    All I see is survey…..

  11. SimonLizzy

    November 20, 2015 at 11:22 am

    It’s a good thing that this came to public notification, cause i came across something like this months ago, since then i’ve been trying as much as could to stay away from artificial hair produce #LindaObserve

  12. mabel

    November 21, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    How come our mothers don’t have these diseases? My mom has been using relaxers even before we were born. She’s. In her late 60s. Maybe not all relaxer users will experience these sha. My hair is not processed though.

  13. danny

    November 24, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Oh my God, information in this article is very useful. Thanks for a very informative article.

  14. Steve

    December 1, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    It is always advisable not to use harsh chemical based hair products. shampoos

  15. Anie

    December 6, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Natural or relaxed hair, just try and live a healthy life. The ingredients that are “harmful” are also in the everyday products we use. Have you checked the ingredients on your toothpaste, hand soap, even the chemicals used by farmers to farmers to prevent pests and diseases or for an improved yield?. Basically what i am saying is that everything should be done in moderation. For natural, relaxed hair, and skin products, contact- 08166243282 for you affordable oils and butters, located in surulere, lagos.

  16. Ellison

    December 29, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Usage of harsh chemical based hair products leads to hair damage.

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