Skip to main content
Log in

Racial/Ethnic Differences in Hormonally-Active Hair Product Use: A Plausible Risk Factor for Health Disparities

  • Brief Communication
  • Published:
Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Estrogen and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that are associated with several health outcomes have been found in hair products. We evaluated the proportion, frequency, duration, and content of hair products in a racially/ethnically diverse population. We recruited n = 301 African-American, African-Caribbean, Hispanic, and white women from the New York metropolitan area. We collected data on hair oil, lotion, leave-in conditioner, root stimulator, perm, and other product use. Estrogen and EDC information was collected from commonly used hair products’ labels (used by >3% of population). African-American and African-Caribbean women were more likely to use all types of hair products compared to white women (P < 0.0001). Among hair product users, frequency varied significantly by race/ethnicity, but not duration. More African-Americans (49.4%) and African-Caribbeans (26.4%) used products containing placenta or EDCs compared to whites (7.7%). African-American and African-Caribbean women were more likely to be exposed to hormonally-active chemicals in hair products.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. Tiwary CM. Premature sexual development in children following the use of estrogen- or placenta-containing hair products. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1998;37(12):733–9.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Donovan M, et al. Personal care products that contain estrogens or xenoestrogens may increase breast cancer risk. Med Hypotheses. 2007;68(4):756–66.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Li ST, et al. Hormone-containing hair product use in prepubertal children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156(1):85–6.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Tiwary CM, Ward JA. Use of hair products containing hormone or placenta by US military personnel. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2003;16(7):1025–32.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Hulka BS, Moorman PG. Breast cancer: hormones and other risk factors. Maturitas. 2001;38(1):103–13. (discussion 113–116).

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Stahlhut RW, et al. Concentrations of urinary phthalate metabolites are associated with increased waist circumference and insulin resistance in adult U.S. males. Environ Health Perspect. 2007;115(6):876–82.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Tiwary CM. A survey of use of hormone/placenta-containing hair preparations by parents and/or children attending pediatric clinics. Mil Med. 1997;162(4):252–6.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Zalko D, et al. Viable skin efficiently absorbs and metabolizes bisphenol A. Chemosphere. 2010;82(3):424–30.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Gomez E, et al. Estrogenic activity of cosmetic components in reporter cell lines: parabens, UV screens, and musks. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2005;68(4):239–51.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Hatch EE, et al. Association of urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations with body mass index and waist circumference: a cross-sectional study of NHANES data, 1999–2002. Environ Health. 2008;7:27.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


Andrea Deierlein, Ghasi Phillips, Gonzalo Maldanado, Denise Esserman, Lina Titievsky, Teresa Janevic, Kellee White, Danella Hafeman, Sharon Schwartz, study and focus group participants. This project was funded by a pilot grant from The Jean Sindab African-American Breast Cancer Project.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tamarra James-Todd.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

James-Todd, T., Senie, R. & Terry, M.B. Racial/Ethnic Differences in Hormonally-Active Hair Product Use: A Plausible Risk Factor for Health Disparities. J Immigrant Minority Health 14, 506–511 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: