Hair StraightenerWhat You Need To Know

Hair straighteners, also called relaxers, use high-pH solutions to stretch and rearrange the protein structure of hair.

What To Avoid
Chemicals:High pH can cause serious burns.
Lye:Lye (Sodium hydroxide) is extremely harsh and can cause severe skin irritation or burns. The FDA recommends avoiding direct contact with the scalp or skin. Breathing in lye vapors can irritate lungs. Some “no-lye” hair relaxers contain other types of hydroxide that also rely on very high pH to restructure the hair. These can also cause harm skin, scalp, and hair. Other “no-lye” relaxers use a type of ammonium, which can cause powerful contact allergies at levels found in hair treatments.
Fragrance:These products also use Fragrances to mask their strong chemical smells. Fragrances often contain Phthalates and other chemicals of concern.
Inhaling Carcinogens: Formaldehyde has become a popular ingredient to straighten hair and create a lasting shine. When liquid formaldehyde is heated during treatment, it turns into formaldehyde gas. Even hair straightening products labeled “formaldehyde-free” may actually contain chemicals related to formaldehyde. The good news is that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a ban on formaldehyde in hair relaxers.
Safer Choices
DIY:Try flat-ironing your hair, using natural moisturizers like shea butter or argan oil to protect it from the heat. Or wear your curls natural!
Find Safer Products
Websites and Apps:
Clearya is a free browser extension and app that notifies you when there are unsafe ingredients in your makeup, personal care, baby care, cleaning and other products, and helps you find safe products.
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics - Nontoxic Black Beauty Project
They offer a list and database of non-toxic beauty products made and sold by Black-owned companies that are committed to toxic-free beauty and personal care products.
Detox Me
This app allows you to scan barcodes on products to find relevant tips. They also offer a buying guide to decode product labels and find non-toxic alternatives.
Environmental Working Group (EWG)
EWG has a "Skin Deep" database that rates personal care and beauty products based on their safety and toxicity levels. EWG also offers a Healthy Living app that allows you to scan barcodes and find safer products.
Think Dirty
This app and website allow you to scan or search for personal care products to see their ingredient safety ratings.