“Creamy Crack” more commonly known as relaxers was discovered in the early 29th century to straighten kinky hair Before the whole natural hair movement thing happened, I transitioned from relaxed hair to natural hair in 2006. I remember it like it was yesterday, a lot of my female friends said “ girl, I don’t know how you are doing it, I love my creamy crack.” At 23 years old, I had had approximately 162 relaxers over a course of 18 years. Just think about it, I believe my first relaxer was at 5 years old. There are 52 weeks in a years and I probably got a perm every 6 weeks that is equivalent to 8.6 (9) perms per year. At the time it didn’t occur to me that a chemical was being applied to the largest organ on my body… MY SKIN, it also didn’t occur to me that the chemical to straighten my hair could enter my bloodstream via my scalp. Being ignorant was bliss in the case of how straight I wanted my hair to be, I wanted the relaxer to stay so long that my scalp burned out of fear of that my hair wouldn’t lay flat for the latest hair styles or that my wrap would not lay just right. In the African Community there is a common rite of passage that most little girls were familiar with:
Location: Kitchen close to the stove
Items required: Hot stove, blue magic grease, comb, hot comb, paper towel, towel & chair
Involved Parties: daughter, mother/grandmother/aunt
Casualties of the ritual: burns on ear or neck, traumatic thoughts associated with heat close to the face, ear or neck
End result: straight and greasy hair with bows
Although this ritual may sound ridiculous, many mothers and daughters shared this experience every weekend especially for special holidays e.g Easter, Christmas, or even birthday. How does getting relaxers correlate with having fibroids?
In the American Journal of Epidemiology a study was completed entitled Hair Relaxer Use and Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata in African American Women Laura Wise et al. (2012)in which premenopausal women were followed for 12 years and the incidences of women that received relaxers vs. women that did was significant. All occurrences of fibroids were confirmed through pelvic exams and ultrasound. Although hair relaxers have been used for rites of passage for years, hair relaxers can cause burns and lesion on the scalp that introduces ingredients of the relaxer into the body. Relaxers vary by ingredients to include lye (sodium hydroxide), no-lye Calcium hydroxide + guanidine carbonate) and thio (thioglycolic acid salts). Although the types of relaxers vary from the main ingredient, phthalates aka “fragrance” is an hormonally active compound hidden in most relaxers. Phthalates can be absorbed by the skin and/or inhaled as has been shown to cause estrogenic effects in animals during testing. Although not proven, fibroids have been known to occur and/or grow secondary to estrogen dominance and it seems like the very thing some women depend on for beauty could be a source of fibroid growth.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if a relaxer gives you that pep in your step than by all means keep getting a relaxer. If you feel like you look like Don King, as I always say that I do after getting my hair washed by all means continue to get a perm. I know how hard it is to transition from the creamy crack to shea butter and twist outs, but my hair is healthier and I am introducing fewer chemicals to my body. If estrogen dominance is the cause of your fibroids and you have tried everything else e.g . exercises, dietary changes, emotional ties, liver detoxes then maybe transitioning to natural hair may be the next best thing to decreased the estrogen load on the body. How many relaxers have you used and how is your uterine health? To use creamy crack or not is a personal decision, but whatever your decision may be, may it be conducive to your healing and aid in your healing.