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Smiling Black woman playing with hair

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According to Forbes, in 2012, 80 percent of Black beauty supply stores were stocked with products for chemically straightened hair and 20% of products for natural hair.  Today, the demand for natural hair products has reversed as Black women have transitioned back to natural hair.  Kline & Company, a market research firm, says that “sales from chemical straightening products has been on the decline for at least a decade.”  And although Black women had started a shift to more natural hairstyles, the pandemic also played a role. Black salons say they experienced a sharp decline in services during the pandemic and women were forced to choose natural hairstyles.

Health hazards from the use of perm products are also impacting sales. The National Institutes of Health study determined that “women who have used hair “straightening chemicals or relaxers, may be at higher risk of developing uterine cancer.” Another report by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute also released a report last month that suggests that approximately 4% of the women who use hair-straightening products developed uterine cancer by the age of 70 when compared to 1.6% of the women who did not use hair-straightening products.

Although experts expect hair straightening products to remain on shelves, it’s expected that the number of Black women using the products will continue to decline. An official campaign to end hair discrimination in the workplace and in schools has resulted in the CROWN Act, Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act. In 2019, the state of California was the first to pass the law, which prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture.  As of July 2022, the CROWN Act is the law in 18 states.