Since 1913, the hair game has been changed and upgraded to a whole new level. From Afros, to Jerry Curls, to hot combs, perms, braids, weaves and anything in between, Garrett Morgan, who was the owner of the Hair Refining Company, redefined black hair all in one container. “How did he do so?” you ask. He did it by inventing the perm, making the his company the proud provider of the number one product (chemical hair straightener).
During this time frame, the product was selling and it was marketed on every platform imaginable. Mother’s were buying it, Mother’s were buying it for their daughters and even men were purchasing.
Garret Augustus Morgan observed that it was possible to change the natural and basic structure of the African American woman’s hair shaft when certain chemicals penetrate the cortical layer.
Although this hairstyle was pretty to some and coveted by others, in the long run, the chemicals in the product did nothing good for our black queens.
Contrary to popular belief (back then), the perm was full of harsh chemicals that became unappealing to African American women’s health. Over time, the harsh chemicals led to many black women suffering from hair loss and early-onset alopecia. It caused long term issues, hair health issues as well as scalp health problems.
Unfortunately America loves a beautiful woman.
Beautiful women are not unfortunate. The unfortunate part is that you have to be a “certain kind of woman”to be considered beautiful in the eyes of America.
Women of color, during that time, had little to no opportunities. So why not hop on the bandwagon and make yourself more likable.
African American women, during that time, felt that a less kinky-haired version, brought them closer to the beauty standards of America.
In the long run, the cost for beauty was health and to this very day, it still is.
In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, researchers investigating the racial bias of uterine fibroids hypothesized that endocrine-disrupting chemicals in hair relaxers could impact a woman’s risk of developing the condition.
According to Blacknews.org black women are 3 times more likely to get uterine fibroids and tumors than any other race.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle of the uterus. A study of 23,000 black women showed that fibroids may be linked to the chemical exposure through scalp burns that result from perms and hair relaxers used by many black women.
Hair relaxers contain a variety of toxic chemicals: lye-based relaxers contain sodium hydroxide; “no-lye” relaxers contain calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate; “thio” relaxers contain thioglycolic acid salts; and almost all varieties contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates, which often appear on a label as “fragrance” or “perfume”.
As black women, we have to be attentive to the things we put in our bodies, even if it is indirect. The look and management of a more soft and calm head of hair, can bring much interest to the eye, but a clear balance of style and health should always be at question.
If you ask me, natural is the best way to go! it’s how we were created. No alterations, no complications.