Hair-straightening Cream Linked to Kidney Damage

We know that our customers have many health concerns. We often hear people worry about kidney health in relation to their blood sugar. Taking care of your blood sugar and kidneys is essential.

Things we wouldn’t think about can have significant impacts on our bodies. A woman had kidney problems three separate times after receiving treatments at a salon. Doctors believe that hair-straightening cream on her scalp caused kidney damage. In June 2020, April 2021 and July 2022, she went to have her hair straightened. Each time, she experienced vomiting, fever, diarrhea and back pain afterward.

Doctors found that she had high levels of creatinine in her blood, a symptom of the kidneys not functioning correctly. She also had blood in her urine. A CT scan showed she didn’t have any blockages that would explain the blood. The doctors believe that the glyoxylic acid in the cream caused the problem.

Her doctors performed a study with mice to look for answers. They put the same brand of hair-straightening cream on some mice and petroleum jelly on control mice. The next day, the mice who had been exposed to the hair cream had higher levels of creatinine and crystals in their urine, indicating kidney damage. The experiment with mice clearly demonstrates that this cream can cause harm inside the body even though it’s topical.  

Glyoxylic acid was added to hair straightening creams to replace formaldehyde. It was viewed as a safer ingredient. However, this isn’t the first kidney injury linked to the chemical.

Thankfully, for this woman, her kidney function rebounded “rapidly” after each exposure, and she recovered. However, her doctors believe that people should avoid hair-straighteners that contain glyoxylic acid and that they should potentially be “discontinued from the market.”

If you go to the salon for hair treatments, talk to your stylist about the ingredients in the products. And if you style your hair at home, be sure to read the bottle for the ingredients and the warnings! We’ve heard the expression, “Vanity must suffer pain.” But there is a difference between being uncomfortable in the name of beauty and endangering yourself. If you go to a salon, you can also talk about more natural approaches that might align with your needs.

Just as no single approach to health is suitable for everyone, there’s not just one beauty routine! Chemical hair straighteners might contain glyoxylic acid and not be a good fit, but other options exist. By chatting with a professional, you can find the safe — and gorgeous — path for you!

Banner image: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

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