As if you needed another reason to go natural… A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology links the use of hair relaxers with uterine fibroids. I first learned of this story through a Fox News report in Houston, TX where a reporter visited a local hair salon asking women about their thoughts on the correlation. My feelings about the use of chemical straighteners are clear — I would never use it on my hair again, and would never allow any future child of mine to be subjected to it either. My mom relaxed my hair when I was about 7 or 8 years old and I continued the act of self-hatred until I was 18. Choosing to grow out my hair in 1995 was a pivotal point in developing my own sense of self as there were no YouTube tutorials, blogs, or hair products dedicated to natural black hair to support my decision. Reactions from friends and family on my decision to do the big chop were met with blank stares and gasps of disgust. I cut my own relaxer off with a pair of household scissors in my mama’s bathroom after the relaxed part of my hair melted together after washing it (I still don’t know how that happened…). I went from having long straight hair down past my shoulders, to a few inches of puffiness that seemed to not follow any pattern or sense of logic. My mother responded with tears.
Relaxers = Fibroids?
You may be asking yourself the question, “If you stopped perming your hair in 1995, why did you develop fibroids?” I have 2 responses to that. ONE — linking hair relaxers to fibroids does not mean the same thing as relaxers directly causing fibroids. All this means is that the relationship between the two is significant enough to do more research on the topic. TWO — I permed my hair religiously every 4 to 6 weeks for about 10 years. That’s roughly 100 applications of the highest strength hair relaxer (I always had thick hair that wouldn’t lie down right without the strong stuff…) on a young body that had not finished fully developing. Remember that whatever you choose to put on your scalp and skin seeps directly into your pores, your bloodstream, and your brain. Fibroids do not develop overnight in your uterus; they take YEARS to develop and possibly more years to actually develop symptoms. I did not notice changes in my menstrual cycle until I was about 22 years of age — so I could have been 15 or 16 when they began to develop. Add to the fact that I grew up eating an unhealthy, meat and carb filled diet and it is easy to see that the damage had already been done.
FDA: A Respectable Standard?
The Fox News story gives a sound byte from a natural hair stylist who says that the haircare industry is not regulated by the FDA and therefore just about anything can be put into them without regard to safety. Truthfully, I don’t believe the FDA’s standards serve as any real stamp of approval for us to follow. Afterall, genetically modified foods and animals are regulated by the FDA. On the other hand, there a thousands of beneficial herbs that have been used in traditional medicine for generations that are not regulated by the FDA at all. The only way to judge if a product is safe for you to use is to do your own research.
Many of us continue with the harmful practice of hair relaxing because we think it is expected of us — and that’s a shame. Black women are so desperate for public approval that we are willing to sacrifice our own fertility to get it. I learned to stop looking for public approval when I made the decision to cut my relaxer off. Because at the end of the day, if I don’t accept myself in its natural state, I will never be acceptable to anyone else.
Do you want to learn how to live more naturally while healing yourself of fibroids, PCOS, endometriosis, infertility, etc.? Click here to learn more about my 6-month women’s health coaching program.
Halona Black is a Women’s Health Coach, Writer, and Personal Chef. She is currently offering free, private health consultations to women interested in talking about their experience with fibroids and other reproductive health challenges. If you are interested, you can complete a health history form and Halona will be in touch with you shortly to discuss your responses.