FDA Considers Ban on Formaldehyde Hair Relaxers


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking a significant step by proposing a ban on the use of formaldehyde in hair relaxers, a common product used by many Black women. This move aims to raise awareness about the potential health risks associated with such products.

Formaldehyde, a highly toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemical, is commonly found in hair-smoothing or hair-straightening products, also known as relaxers. The proposed rule seeks to officially ban the use of formaldehyde in these products. While the FDA currently advises against the use of hair-straightening products containing formaldehyde, the proposed ban would strengthen regulatory measures.

Formaldehyde exposure can lead to irritation of the eyes, skin, lungs, and throat. It is also linked to certain cancers, including myeloid leukemia. Even products that don’t explicitly list formaldehyde as an ingredient may contain substances that can convert into formaldehyde when heated.

The proposed ban comes in response to growing awareness of the potential dangers of chemical hair relaxers. Recent studies have indicated associations between the use of these products and health issues, including an increased risk of uterine cancer. Black women, in particular, have been disproportionately affected, as many commonly used hair-straightening products are poorly regulated, and consumers may not be fully aware of the substances they are exposed to.

The FDA’s proposed ban is a significant move towards addressing these concerns and protecting consumers from potential harm. It also aligns with ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the unique challenges and health considerations faced by Black women, including the passage of the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, which aims to prevent discrimination based on hair texture.

As the FDA works towards implementing the proposed ban by April, it emphasizes the need for increased scrutiny and regulation of cosmetic products to ensure consumer safety.

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