By Kathrina Tiangco
Researchers recently discovered that certain Black hair care products contain dozens of hazardous chemicals. The study was conducted by scientists from the Silent Spring Institute. This research study is the first one to test various types of hair products that are targeted to Black women.
The research team studied 18 hair products ranging from hot oil treatments, hair lotions, hair relaxers, leave-in conditioners, anti-frizz hair polishes, and root stimulators. Each product was tested for 66 types of endocrine disruptors. These disruptors are linked to various health issues namely cancer asthma, reproductive disorders, and birth defects.
The scientists discovered that the products collectively contain 45 out of the 66 endocrine disruptors. Meanwhile, each product has around six to 30 of the chemicals they tested for. All products are made with perfume chemicals while 78 percent of the items had parabens. This is a type of preservative that is often discovered in cosmetic products and is considered as an endocrine disruptor.
Other chemicals that were traced in root stimulators, hair relaxers, and hair lotions include diethyl phthalate and nonylphenols. Meanwhile, traces of cyclosiloxanes were also discovered in anti-frizz products. 11 of the products contained at least seven chemicals that were banned in the E.U.
The hair relaxers had the highest amount of five chemicals banned in the E.U. which was alarmingly packaged and sold towards children. 84 percent of the chemicals the research team detected were apparently not included in the product label.
Unfortunately, consumers cannot argue this with the manufacturers because they aren’t required to declare all ingredients they put into their product. Hence, consumers are left blinded and making informed choices, therefore, becomes harder for them.
Some of the chemicals discovered by the research team identified it to be present in other beauty and personal care products. Nevertheless, the levels of chemicals are found higher in Black women’s products. Researchers conclude that this may be one of the reasons why Black women are more exposed to harmful chemicals compared to other races.
According to Jessica Helm, the study’s lead author, the chemicals found in hair and beauty products mostly did not undergo tests and are often unregulated. She also adds that conducting their study is the first step in revealing the hazardous ingredients that are present in products that are used by Black women. Knowing the content will help us understand and identify the health conditions Black women are facing.