Sales Of Chemical Hair Relaxers Are On The Rise In Africa

FDA Relaxer, Cancer, Africa, International, Global

by Jameelah Mullen

As sales of chemical hair straighteners decline in the US, Canada and Europe, companies are shifting their focus to Africa

Many chemical hair straighteners contain ingredients such as formaldehyde, bisphenol A and parabens, all of which have been linked to cancer.

In a 2023 report published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that women who Use chemical hair straighteners Women who have cancer at least four times a year have twice the risk of developing uterine cancer than women who do not. Both Treescountry Canada have imposed restrictions on formaldehyde in hair straighteners. The US Food and Drug Administration proposed to ban the chemical last year.

Several black women have Lawsuits filed against companies claiming their hair care products caused cancer. A class action lawsuit claims that companies sold hair straighteners that “an increased risk of uterine and ovarian cancer, but it also did not adequately warn about this potential risk.”

As awareness of the dangers of hair straighteners has increased, the use of these products has declined in the United States, Canada and Europe. However, according to market research firm Euromonitor, sales of chemical hair straighteners have increased significantly in some African countries. Sales in Tunisia and Kenya increased by 10% from 2017 to 2023.

Seyi Faladun-Liburd is co-director of Level Up Germany, a feminist organisation that campaigns for gender equality in the UK. Faladun Liburd says that companies expanding into Africa is problematic because it allows them to circumvent some of the regulations in place in the US, Canada and Europe.

“This means that most consumers are probably not even aware of the effects of these hair straighteners. We do not believe that they are harming us for profit,” Faladun Liburd told NBC News.

Both L'Oreal and Godrej Consumer Products, the company that owns TCB Naturals, have expanded into Africa following litigation in the US.

In a statement to NBC News, L'Oreal claimed that these lawsuits had no “legal or scientific basis” and would have no impact on the company's presence in Africa.

According to the Sokolove Law, more than 8,000 Lawsuits over hair straighteners were submitted against L'Oreal USA and other companies.