Effects of Toxic Chemicals and Hair Products on Black Hair
Updated: Oct 26
For decades, toxic chemicals and harsh treatments were considered the only acceptable way to style black women’s hair. Hair relaxing treatments and chemical straighteners made textured hair easier to manipulate and style. But those chemicals are harmful to your hair and your body, and many find these treatments to be harmful to black women’s self- image as well. Keep reading to learn more about the negative impacts of toxic chemicals in hair products, and how we’re choosing a different route in our organic hair salon in Alexandria, VA.
Why Were These Treatments So Common?
First, let’s address why these incredibly toxic treatments were so frequently used when styling black women’s hair. Simply put, their prevalence is based on the beauty industry’s Eurocentric business model. The softer, straighter, less textured hair of European women has always been considered “the norm” by much of the beauty industry. And so, popular haircuts and hairstyles have always been centered around white women’s hair.
Even today, black women struggle to find hairstylists who know how to cut and style their hair. And so, many salons resort to chemical straighteners to force a more “normal” texture on their hair. Many black women have been told in the past that their “black” hairstyles—braids, afros, locs, and other styles meant to protect their natural hair—were messy, unkempt, or even entirely unacceptable in their schools or workplaces. Forcing their hair to be straight was the only “acceptable” solution.
The Big Problems with Toxic Chemicals
Of course, many hair products—for both white and black women—contain chemicals. But chemical straighteners and hair relaxing treatments can be especially problematic. For example, two of the primary ingredients in most chemical hair straighteners are sodium hydroxide and lye. These products essentially break down the hair’s natural structure in order to make it more manageable. Over time, they make hair brittle and cause it to break or even fall out and lead to baldness.
But they’re not only bad for your hair. They have other serious health implications as well. They’ve been linked to growths in the uterus, premature births, and low infant birth rates for pregnant women who use these treatments. For the stylists handling these products, regular exposure to these chemicals has led to severe skin irritation, hair loss, hormone imbalances, and even asthma.
Changing the Way We Treat Black Hair
Over the last decade, the perception of naturally textured black hair has changed drastically. Thanks in large part to celebrities and social media influencers who have modeled these changes, black women are embracing their natural hair—and, as a result, they’re demanding that the beauty industry find ways to style and treat their hair without breaking it down.
Here at the Cualtzin Salon, we will never use toxic chemicals to treat your hair. We love all things natural—including your natural beauty—and use only gentle, organic products, regardless of the texture of your hair. When you’re searching for a “hair cutting salon near me in Alexandria, VA,” with hairstylists who can cut and style your naturally textured hair, reach out to us directly at 703-706-5749. We encourage you to make a consultation appointment prior to scheduling your first service so that we can get to know you, your hair, and your style preferences. Give us a call today!