Although a lot of people grew up using them, the chemicals in relaxers are doing more damage than you could possibly imagine. A lot of women of color are in great danger of relaxers rather than embracing their natural hair. Many still do not understand the devastating effects that relaxers can have, not only your hair but on your health too.

Here is the harsh truth about relaxers.

Although we have more women embracing their natural hair, still, there are a large number of women who still regularly use relaxers. The misconception is that if a relaxer is burning then it’s working but in reality, if a relaxer is burning then it is doing more damage than you could possibly imagine. The chemicals found in relaxers are very harmful, especially when they pass through our skin and cause a lot of problems with our physical health.

Keep reading to find out exactly why we should ditch the relaxers!

Who invented relaxers?
Relaxers were invented by Garrett Morgan, the son of a former slave. In 1910 he was originally trying to create new lubrication for the sewing machine needle. This lubrication touched the hair on his arm by accident and he noticed that the hair began to straighten up. By total accident, Morgan developed a hair topical for black people to chemically force their naturally curly hair straight. He called this invention the “Relaxer.”

What are they made of?
Relaxers are made of chemicals that actually changes the natural chemical makeup of curly natural hair. Sodium hydroxide or “lye” is the most hazardous ingredient. The soap company, Certified Lye, cautions users that “substances with large amounts of lye can cause chemical burns, permanent injury or scarring, and blindness. Lye may be harmful or fatal if swallowed”. Though there are some relaxers, that do not add lye in the ingredient regimen, there are other chemicals used that are still hazardous. Another ingredient is guanidine carbonate. Chemicalbook.com says that when handling guanidine carbonate “only use in the chemical fume hood.” Also, the relaxer ingredients, succinic acid should be kept out of contact with the skin clothes, and eyes.

What are the dangers?
Scientific research has shown there is cause for concern with the use of the ingredients found in Black hair care products. Studies show relaxers cause life-threatening ailments such as reproductive problems, heart disease, different forms of cancer, early puberty, fibroids, and mental health disorders because they enter our bodies through the scalp. Relaxers can also affect the chemical balance of our bodies by going into our system through cuts and burns.

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Esther is a seasoned writer and broadcast journalist with years of experience in both media, print, and broadcast journalism. A graduate of Sociology/Anthropology with a passion for editing and journalism.

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