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Meet The Organization Demanding Less Toxicity In Curl Care Products

by Chelsea Castonguay
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Most Black women already know there is a long history of products being less than healthful for their curls. Long term exposure to many of the curl products that have been on the market have been linked to various serious health ailments in Black women. However, some women are standing up against this, and demanding change. Meet the organization demanding less toxicity in curl care products. When it comes to the health of Black women, this organization has taken a stand and demanded change in the industry.

Meet The Organization Demanding Less Toxicity In Curl Care Products

Fed up with the risk Black women taken when it comes to beauty products, especially hair care products, the organization Black Women for Wellness came together to investigate the products made readily available on the market. In 2016, the organization released the results of a four-year study, a report titled “Natural Evolutions: One Hair Story.” Within this report, the details of the dangerous chemicals used in products often used by Black women, such as relaxers, straighteners, and dyes are exposed. Perhaps most disturbingly, it was discovered that most manufacturers of these products aren't required to list the more dangerous of ingredients on their packaging, ensuring that women don't know exactly what it is they're utilizing to care for their hair.

Willie Duncan, senior program manager for Black Women for Wellness, spoke out about the insidious nature of the black hair are industry. Willie called for transparency in products primarily used by the Black community, especially those in salons, which had no requirements for ingredients to be listed on products. Without transparency, it can be difficult for federal regulations to be created requiring the listing of product ingredients. As a result, most consumers as well as stylists weren't fully aware of what they were using on their hair and their clients' hair.

In an industry that's deeply ingrained in Black culture in the United States, it can be hard to figure out where to start combating this issue. Black women use their hair styles as a way to express their culture, personal identities, as well as celebrate their ancestry, and connect with other Black women across the globe. As the study relates, the $9 billion dollar a year industry “is interconnected with the conversation around class, gender, race, colorism and colonialism.” Customers balk at paying higher prices, relating that it feels they are being “punished” for seeking out healthier


What can be done?

Fortunately, not all hope was lost after the release of this report. Black Women for Wellness has called for immediate industry changes, including the transparent listing of all ingredients on products used for the “Africans, African-Americans, Black Americans, Black Caribbeans, and Afro Latinos,” communities. Toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, ammonia, obesogens, and phthalates should be listed clearly on ingredients lists. Companies should also make it clear what risks come with using these products.

Duncan also encourages consumers to engage in more individualized research, and to prioritize utilizing safe products, as well as patronizing salons that do so. She recommends for people to not be duped by “green labeling” and to really ensure they've investigated companies that claim to have green or more healthful products without actually following through. Finally, Duncan recommends considering making your own curl care products. It's a certain way to ensure you're in control of exactly what is going into your products.

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