A number of African-American women continue to damage their hair more and more each year. Author and physician Loren Pickart speaks on the damaging affects and loss of hair in her article “The Truth About Hair Relaxers.” Pickart states relaxing hair seems to be the talk of the party in the African American women’s community; although this product damages their hair with all the chemicals it contains, they continue to use it and sell it in stores. Black women want to be apart of society so much that they rather damage their hair and change their looks to fit into the European style than just be themselves.
The idea of relaxer seems very counter intuitive, this is a whole race of beautiful different shades of women varying from mahogany to dark chocolate, that has fought almost 300 years for freedom and equality to be who they are, and not to be looked at as different. Now they have invented a product so that they fit the standard look of their past oppressors. It is confusing and ridiculous to me. A lot of black women could have long beautiful hair, curls of gold , but they continue to treat their hair with relaxer which in the end damages the hair follicle completely. The FDA clearly lists the dangers of hair relaxers and people still use them. Relaxer contains sodium hydroxide the most prominent chemical used in this product. This chemical is found in drain cleaners, so why use this chemical toxin? The strength of the product is clear now yet using drain cleaner chemicals does not deter African-American women from continuing to damage their hair. The pH factor in relaxers is 10-14; the stronger the pH the faster and longer black hair stays straight, resulting in deepening the damage to the scalp. The chemical penetrates the cortex or cortical layer and loosens the natural curl pattern.This inner layer of the hair shaft is not only what gives curly hair its shape but provides strength and elasticity. Once this process is performed it is irreversible.This process which produces the desired effect of “straighter” hair at the same time leaves hair weak and extremely susceptible to breaking and further damage.One must keep in mind that relaxers do not help the hair, but actually strip it. Seeing the dangers of using relaxer, African american women ignore the damage just to fit the european standard and they can feel beautiful. Follow these steps for those who continue to treat hair with relaxer, and less damage may be caused 1. A protective base is applied 2. Relaxer is neutralized 3. Conditioning treatments are vital. Many women are against using relaxer products in present times because of the dangerous chemicals they contain and the damage it does to the hair and they are more aware of the dangers, not using relaxer leads to a safer route and stronger, healthier hair.
Pickart, Loren. “What You Need to Know About Chemical Hair Relaxers.”The Truth About Hair Relaxers. Real Published Science, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
Here’s a good source for you, bj. Alek Wek is interviewed for the BBC’s 100 Women series. She’s a top fashion model from Sudan who has a lot to say about black women needing to comply with the “European standard” of female beauty, and comments specifically about using dangerous chemicals for cosmetic purposes.