A new study reveals that most Black women in the U.K. who use chemical relaxers to straighten their hair are likely to suffer from painful side effects.
The study, published by The Independent, found that as many as two-thirds of Black British women have experienced burnt scalps and hair loss – from using hair relaxers, new research has revealed. There has also been a proven connection between chemical relaxer use and uterine fibroids.
Nearly a quarter of Black women between 18 and 30 have fibroids compared to about 6% of white women. This number spikes to 60% after 35. Approximately 25% to 50% experience heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent urination and pain.
The study included 1,024 Black British women aged 25-44 and was conducted by feminist group Level Up and Black hair care company Treasure Tress.
“We should all be able to trust the products we use on our bodies are safe. But hair relaxers sold to Black women include lye, the same dangerous chemical used to unblock drains,” Ikamara Larasi, campaigner at Level Up, said, per the publication.
“Almost two in three Black British women have had negative experiences with lye-based hair relaxers, including scalp burns and hair loss. These products are also linked to a 30% increase in breast cancer. Thousands of Black British women are calling for No More Lyes. Beauty companies must remove the lye or take relaxers containing lye off the shelves.”
And the issue is just as prevalent here in the U.S.
Last year, Boston University’s Black Women’s Health Study followed 59,000 Black women for over 25 years. The study found that Black women who used hair products containing lye at least seven times a year for at least 15 years had an approximately 30% increased risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.