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Original Source: Blavity
Chemical relaxers are a staple in the Black community, though the safety of their formulas has come into question in the last few years. Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, brought the issue to the Food and Drug Administration in March and pushed them to answer questions about the safety of chemical relaxers. Months after their pleas, the FDA is finally stepping up and addressing the issue.
According to The Root, the congresswomen said the FDA is proposing a new ban on dangerous chemicals found in chemical straighteners, including formaldehyde and other formaldehyde-releasing chemicals.
Brown is just as elated about the update.
“On behalf of women, especially Black women across the country, I applaud the F.D.A.’s new proposed rule banning formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals from hair straighteners,” Brown wrote.
In Pressley and Brown’s original letter, they explained the cultural history of chemical relaxers in the Black community, and how many Black women have felt pressure to use these products to straighter their hair as a means of adhering to Eurocentric beauty standards.
Though the proposal has yet to be enacted, it marks an important step forward in the fight for safe products for Black users. Right now, there may be negative health consequences for many users of these products health. A 2020 Harvard study discovered that harmful chemicals were included in the formulation of 50% of hair products marketed specifically to Black women, which is a far cry from the 7% of products containing harmful chemicals that are marketed to non-Black women.