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The FDA proposes ban on hair straightening products that contain formaldehyde


The Food and Drug Administration is proposing a ban on chemical hair straighteners that contain formaldehyde. Frequent use of hair straighteners and relaxers containing the highly toxic carcinogen have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other long-term adverse health effects, including headaches, asthma and allergic dermatitis.

According to the New York Department of Health, there are more than 150 hair straightening products on the market that contain formaldehyde. These products are predominately marketed toward Black women, where the rates of uterine cancer have seen the biggest increase. A study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health found that women who use chemical hair straighteners containing the toxin face more than twice the risk of developing endometrial cancer. Black women may be more "affected due to higher use."

On Cincinnati Edition, we discuss the FDA's proposed ban on hair straighteners with formaldehyde, the impact formaldehyde exposure has on the body, and how the ban could help promote legislation that would ban race-based hair discrimination.


  • Alicia Reece, commission president, Hamilton County Commission
  • Kelly Dobos, chemist, adjunct instructor, University of Cincinnati's Cosmetic Science Program

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