FDA is considering a ban on hair-straightening chemical compounds. Stylists say Black girls have moved on

ATLANTA — The U.S. Meals and Drug Administration is contemplating a ban on sure hair-straightening chemical compounds which were utilized by Black girls for years and that analysis reveals could improve the danger of uterine most cancers.

However Black hair stylists say such merchandise — particularly those being checked out by the FDA, which comprise formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing chemical compounds — have fallen out of favor, particularly amongst youthful generations.

“Relaxers have taken an excessive decline … as we grew to become extra educated concerning the results of the relaxer in your hair and what it will probably do to your hair,” stated Kayleigh Butler, a hair stylist in Atlanta who remembers getting relaxers when she was 5 years outdated. She added, “I feel folks simply needed to maneuver away from that and reside a more healthy life-style.”

The FDA is within the first steps of the method: The discover of a attainable rule was not too long ago added to its regulatory agenda. The company goals to publish an advance discover of proposed rulemaking by April 2024, however objects can keep on the agenda for years.

The attainable rule would apply to each salon-grade and at-home merchandise, FDA spokesperson Courtney Rhodes stated.

Jasmine Garcia, who owns Jasmine Nicole Xclusives Hair Salon in Atlanta, estimated that lower than 5% of her shoppers — who’re Black girls — need relaxers. She informed The Related Press {that a} consumer texted her after studying concerning the potential ban, saying: “Of all of the issues the FDA must look into, why relaxers proper now?”

Earlier this 12 months, U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Shontel Brown of Ohio requested the FDA to research chemical hair straighteners, pointing to a examine printed in 2022 from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being that linked straighteners to an elevated threat of uterine most cancers. Pressley stated in an Oct. 6 assertion that the FDA’s attainable motion is “a win for public well being — particularly the well being of Black girls.”

“No matter how we put on our hair, we ought to be allowed to point out up on the planet with out placing our well being in danger,” she stated.

The FDA posted a video Wednesday on social media, reminding those who no motion has been taken but and that the company plans to work with and encourage the cosmetics business to develop different straightening merchandise.

In a examine from Boston College printed this month within the journal Environmental Analysis, researchers adopted almost 45,000 Black girls for as much as 22 years, the vast majority of them average or heavy customers of relaxers. Amongst postmenopausal girls, those that used relaxers most frequently had a higher than 50% elevated threat of uterine most cancers in comparison with those that by no means or seldom used them.

Black folks have the best charges of dying from most cancers, based on information from the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. The dangers for Black girls might shift with higher regulation of chemical hair straighteners, stated Dr. Kimberly Bertrand, an writer of the Boston College examine.

She added that FDA motion could be a step in the suitable path, however that it shouldn’t focus solely on formaldehyde.

“I feel consideration of endocrine disrupters like phthalates and parabens could be vital, and heavy metals, too,” she stated. “Eliminating formaldehyde in these merchandise actually is an effective factor, however … I don’t know that it renders these merchandise utterly secure.”

Dr. Yolanda Lenzy, a dermatologist and licensed cosmetologist who co-authored the Boston College examine, additionally stated there’s nonetheless some strain for Black girls to have straight hair, particularly in conservative job fields like regulation.

Twenty-four states have some kind of regulation banning discrimination over hairstyles, however Black folks have nonetheless run into points, like in Texas, the place a highschool pupil was suspended due to his locs.

“I simply know so many Black girls who’ve made the alternatives about how they present up on the planet based mostly on codes at work, on guidelines at work, that … their hair needs to be presentable,” Lenzy stated. “What does that actually imply?”


The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Robert Wooden Johnson Basis. The AP is solely chargeable for all content material.