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Are Hair Products for Black Women Safe? Three Black British Women Want to Find Out

By Features Desk

Wednesday, September 19, 2018.

In April this year, Tola Okogwu was featured in a BBC news story about the potential dangers of hair care products marketed at Black women. The story went viral and was shared by thousands of women all over the world. Black women were rightly shocked and concerned and yet it did not cause much of a stir across mainstream media. This inspired her to join forces with Abi Begho and Sheila Marshall to create a documentary uncovering the truth behind the safety of hair products for Black women.

A recent study by researchers at the Silent Spring Institute and Battelle Memorial Institute in the United States, points out that 80% of Black hair products contain endocrine disrupting and asthma causing chemicals. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are of particular concern as some studies have linked these chemicals to hormone-related health conditions including, breast cancer and fibroids. But what does this research actually mean for Black women using these products daily? Should they be worried? Should they stop using these products?

Black women need to be empowered with clear, accurate, reliable information so that they can make informed decisions about the products that they choose to purchase. This is why the ‘My Haircare Nightmare’ documentary is so important.

Tola, Abi and Sheila’s goal is to create a documentary that will provide some answers, stimulate discussion and question a culture that has created a market that perpetuates the myth that natural afro hair needs to be ‘tamed’ with product after product.

The three women’s career backgrounds make them ideal for this much-needed documentary.

Tola is an author who holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and has written for several publications including Black Beauty and Hair Magazine and Metro UK. Abi Begho is the founder of Lake Health and Wellbeing, an organisation which seeks to address the health inequalities that exist where the black community faces a number of health challenges. And Sheila Marshall, who has a Masters degree in International Political Economy, is an independent film-maker with over ten years of experience in the television and film industry.

Their documentary will creatively explain the science behind the research and delve deeper into the societal and cultural pressures that lead black women to use these products. They will speak to real women and hear their hair stories.   

The documentary will also provide expert advice and practical approaches to help Black women reduce their level of exposure to EDCs and asthma causing chemicals. They will speak to scientists, manufacturers, consumers, influencers, policy makers and more to gain a deeper understanding of the issue and what we should all be doing about it.

In order to make this documentary happen, the collective needs to raise over £80,000 and have launched a crowdfunding campaign to turn their vision into a reality.


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Are Hair Products for Black Women Safe? Three Black British Women Want to Find Out

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