The market is flooded with products that claim to enhance our hair’s appearance. From hair dyes to straightening treatments, there seems to be an unending number of products designed specifically for our hair. However, most of these hair care products contain chemicals, some of which are more harmful than others.
The excessive use of such chemical products can have severe consequences on your hair, health, and the environment. For instance, research by Boston University suggests that prolonged usage of chemical hair relaxers by postmenopausal Black women increases the risk of cancer. Given that more than 90 percent of adult Black women in the US use hair relaxers, this research impacts a lot of people.
As reported by EurekAlert, chemicals – particularly cyclic volatile methyl siloxanes – from hair products tend to linger in the air in high amounts. These chemicals can degrade the quality of the air and harm the environment. They can also lead to health problems in living beings.
Having said all that, let us observe some common negative effects that stem from the overuse of chemical hair products.
#1 Hair Damage and Breakage
One of the most immediate and noticeable consequences of overusing chemical products on your hair is damage and breakage.
Many popular hair treatments, such as relaxers, perms, and certain hair dyes, contain potent chemicals that alter the hair’s structure. These chemicals penetrate the hair shaft, breaking down the natural bonds that give hair its strength and elasticity.
Continuous exposure to these harsh chemicals weakens the hair, making it more prone to breakage. The damage is often irreversible, leading to split ends and a frizzy, unkempt appearance.
Over time, the cumulative effect of chemical-induced damage can result in significant hair loss, leaving individuals with thin, fragile strands that lack vitality.
#2 Risk of Cancer
Recently, it has beenbeen noted that hair products contain a large amount of PFAS or forever chemicals. These chemicals are included in the product formulas to deliver high-quality shine and provide anti-frizz properties. However, PFAS chemicals are notoriously known for causing cancer, as was evident in the AFFF foam lawsuits.ncer.
WION reports that commonly used products like deodorant, makeup, shampoo, hair dyes, and sunscreen often contain these harmful PFAS chemicals. Several US states are considering the prohibition of cosmetic items containing PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” due to their potential risks.
PFAS chemicals found in the Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) firefighting foam have been found to cause severe health issues, including cancer. Because of this risk, the AFFF lawsuit was filed against the manufacturers of this firefighting foam.
According to TorHoerman Law, the AFFF MDL consists of around 6,000 individual lawsuits. They are all related to injuries from AFFF exposure. Studies show that those exposed to the PFAS chemicals had an increased risk of thyroid cancer, kidney cancer, and other types of cancer.
You’ll be amazed to know that similar PFAS chemicals are being used to manufacture hair products as well. These chemicals are even used in making shampoos. Therefore, overusing such chemical hair products can greatly increase the risk of cancer. If anything, the AFFF toxic firefighting foam lawsuits showcase just how life-threatening PFAS chemicals can be when people are exposed to them.
In fact, as reported by The Washington Post, several US states are currently looking to ban PFAS-based cosmetics. These include hair products like shampoos and relaxers.
#3 Loss of Natural Shine and Luster
Chemical treatments often promise a glossy, salon-quality finish, but the long-term consequence is quite the opposite. Excessive use of chemical products strips the hair of its natural oils, disrupting the delicate balance that maintains its shine and luster.
Harsh cleansers can be particularly detrimental, as they wash away the protective oils that keep the hair cuticle smooth and reflective. Without these essential oils, hair becomes dull, lifeless, and prone to static.
The loss of natural shine not only affects the aesthetic appeal of the hair but also reflects its compromised health. Rather than enhancing beauty, the excessive use of chemical products can result in lackluster locks that betray the damage inflicted upon them.
#4 Scalp Irritation and Allergies
Chemical products can wreak havoc not only on the hair but also on the delicate skin of the scalp. Many hair dyes, shampoos, and styling products contain allergens and irritants that can cause a range of adverse reactions.
Common symptoms include redness, itching, burning sensations, and even the development of painful sores on the scalp. According to TheHealthSite, chemicals that may trigger scalp allergy include para-phenylenediamine, para-toluenediamine, and ammonia and its by-products – ethanolamine, diethanolamine, and triethanolamine.
Repeated exposure to these chemicals may trigger allergic reactions, leading to conditions such as contact dermatitis. The scalp’s natural balance is disrupted, causing discomfort and compromising the overall health of the hair follicles.
Prolonged irritation can contribute to hair thinning and may exacerbate existing scalp conditions, such as dandruff and psoriasis.
#5 Environmental Impact
The negative effects of excessive chemical product use on hair health extend beyond personal consequences to impact the environment. Many of the chemicals commonly found in hair products, such as sulfates, parabens, and silicones, are known pollutants that can harm aquatic ecosystems.
When these chemicals are washed down the drain during showers, they find their way into rivers and oceans. They can then disrupt aquatic life and accumulate in the environment. The environmental impact of these substances is a growing concern, prompting calls for more sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives.
In conclusion, while the allure of picture-perfect hair may be tempting, the excessive use of chemical products comes at a considerable cost. As consumers, it is essential to weigh the short-term benefits against the long-term consequences and consider embracing more natural approaches to hair care.