FDA To Ban Formaldehyde In Hair Straighteners Used By Black Women

The agency has long known that the chemical can increase the risk of developing cancer.

Government and cosmetic industry scientists have long known the health risks of formaldehyde in hair straightening products marketed mainly to Black women. Yet, government regulators are only now taking action.

The New York Times that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed banning hair products that contain or emit formaldehyde, a chemical the funeral industry uses in embalming fluids and has industrial uses.

According to the agency, frequent use of hair straighteners with formaldehyde can increase the risk of developing uterus cancer. 

Other studies link using hair straighteners and dyes to breast and ovarian cancer, perhaps contributing to women of color having a higher rate of uterine cancer in recent years.

New Study Reveals Chemical In Black Hair Care Products Increases Risk Of Breast Cancer

The FDA expects to issue a ban in April 2024 on hair products that contain formaldehyde and other formaldehyde-releasing chemicals. In the meantime, the agency urges consumers to read hair product labels and avoid those containing formaldehyde, formalin or methylene glycol. 

Since 2016, FDA scientists recognized formaldehyde in hair products can cause cancer. But it’s unclear why the agency ended a plan to ban those products seven years ago. 

“The FDA has known for decades now that these products are dangerous. There is no reason for them not to have acted sooner,” Melanie Benesh of the Environmental Working Group,  an advocacy organization, told The Times.

Environmental Working Group asked the FDA twice – in 2011 and 2021 – to ban hair products with formaldehyde.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.