The Controversy Surrounding Chemical Hair Relaxers for African American Women

June 18, 2023

The Controversy Surrounding Chemical Hair Relaxers for African American Women

African American women have a rich and diverse range of hairstyles, with unique textures and patterns that celebrate their cultural heritage. Over the years, there has been a growing concern regarding the use of chemical hair relaxers, also known as "creamy crack," within this community. While chemical relaxers offer the promise of straightened hair, they come with potential risks and a complex set of societal implications. In this blog post, we will delve into the issue with chemical hair relaxers for African American women, exploring the reasons behind their popularity, the associated health concerns, and the importance of embracing natural hair.

The Appeal of Chemical Hair Relaxers:

The desire for straight hair is deeply ingrained in our society, often associated with mainstream standards of beauty. For many African American women, chemical hair relaxers have been seen as a means to achieve these beauty ideals and conform to societal norms. Straightened hair has historically been considered more professional and acceptable in certain professional settings, which can create pressure for women to alter their natural hair texture.

Health Concerns:

Unfortunately, chemical hair relaxers contain harsh ingredients such as sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide, which are used to break down the protein bonds in the hair, altering its natural structure. The use of these chemicals can have detrimental effects on both the scalp and the hair itself. Regular application of relaxers can lead to scalp irritation, burns, hair breakage, and thinning. Moreover, improper application or overlapping relaxer treatments can cause severe damage to the hair and scalp, leading to irreversible hair loss.

The Impact on Self-Perception:

Chemical hair relaxers not only affect physical health but also influence the way African American women perceive themselves and their natural beauty. The constant pressure to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards can create a sense of self-doubt and perpetuate the belief that natural hair is somehow inferior. This mindset can have significant psychological and emotional consequences, affecting self-esteem, self-acceptance, and personal identity.

The Rise of Natural Hair Movement:

Thankfully, a paradigm shift is occurring. The natural hair movement, led by African American women and supported by diverse communities, promotes embracing and celebrating natural hair textures. This movement encourages women to reject the idea that straight hair is the only acceptable form of beauty and encourages them to explore and appreciate the versatility of their natural hair.

The Benefits of Embracing Natural Hair:

Choosing to embrace natural hair can have numerous advantages. Firstly, it promotes self-acceptance and self-love, empowering women to embrace their authentic selves. Natural hair is also versatile, allowing for a wide array of creative and unique styles that celebrate individuality and cultural heritage. Additionally, embracing natural hair can lead to improved hair health, as it eliminates the use of harsh chemicals and encourages proper hair care practices, such as moisturizing, deep conditioning, and protective styling.


The issue with chemical hair relaxers for African American women is a complex one, influenced by societal pressures, health concerns, and personal identity. However, the rising natural hair movement offers hope and a path towards self-acceptance and empowerment. By encouraging the celebration of diverse hair textures and rejecting harmful beauty standards, we can redefine the concept of beauty and create a more inclusive and accepting society. Ultimately, the choice to embrace natural hair is a personal one, but it is crucial to prioritize health, self-love, and individuality in our journey towards embracing our authentic selves.

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