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October 18, 2022
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“Pan Solo”

A Bay Area bakery, naming its 6-foot bread sculpture of Han Solo. Two crumbs up.

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Straight Hair, Do Care

The Story

The use of chemical hair straighteners may lead to a higher risk of uterine cancer.

Since when?

Yesterday, the National Institutes of Health released a study that found women who frequently used hair straightening products (think: at least four times a year) more than doubled their risk of developing uterine cancer. That’s after the study tracked over 33,000 women between the ages of 35-74 for about 11 years. During that time, 378 uterine cancer cases were diagnosed. And it comes as rates of uterine cancer are on the rise in the US, particularly among Black women. While the research didn’t find a link between straightener use and uterine cancer with race, the risk may be greater for Black women.


Of the study participants who reported using straighteners, 60% self-identified as Black women. And researchers say that in addition to using hair straightening or relaxer products more frequently, Black women also start using them at an earlier age than other races and ethnicities. (Worth noting: Black shoppers, according to one report, spend around $473 million annually on hair care, which is a $4.2 billion industry.) While another study found that frequent use of permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners can lead to an increased risk of developing breast cancer — with products predominantly used by Black women containing more potentially hazardous ingredients.

What else do I need to know?

The study doesn’t specify which brands or ingredients participants used, but it does say several chemicals that've been found in straighteners — including parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde — could be contributing to the increased risk. Not to mention that chemical exposure in hair products is absorbed at a higher rate through the scalp. And burns caused by straighteners could make things worse. But researchers say more studies are needed to identify which chemicals may be increasing the risk of cancers.


Growing up, straightening your hair was a rite of passage for many. But in recent years, there’s been a movement to embrace what’s natural. Now, these findings could raise further awareness of the risks — and encourage even more women to go au naturel.

Skimm the Midterms: Immigration

We’re less than a month out from Election Day. Here's the latest on one of the big topics voters care about:

Last week, President Biden announced he’s expanding Title 42 — in an effort to discourage Venezuelans from attempting to enter the country through the US-Mexico border. Reminder: The pandemic-era order, which was first enacted by the Trump admin, essentially turned away asylum seekers at the border, with the goal of stopping the spread of COVID-19. Some Dems (including Biden) previously criticized the policy. And the Biden admin has even tried fighting it in court. But now, the administration seems to have shifted its stance — a move human rights groups have condemned. It comes as a record number of people have been apprehended crossing the US-Mexico border this year. And as a record number have died on the way. 

At the same time, President Biden has made progress on a number of campaign promises surrounding immigration. He's reversed some of former President Trump’s immigration policies (see: this and this). He’s extended temporary protection for about 150,000 Haitians living in the US. And in August, he introduced a new regulation to codify DACA and replace the 2012 memo that created it. Still, one poll found that 40% of voters trust Republicans to do a better job addressing immigration —compared to 32% of voters who chose Democrats.

To keep up with all the midterms latest, you can Skimm your ballot and make sure you’re registered to vote before your state’s deadline.

And Also...This

What’s making progress…

The Department of Education. Yesterday, the Biden admin officially launched the application for its federal student loan forgiveness program. You know, the one that forgives up to $20,000 of student loan debt for certain borrowers. Less than a week after a beta version of the website was launched, it’s now officially opened its doors — meaning borrowers have until Dec 31, 2023, to fill out an application form here. (Pro tip: have info like your name, SSN, DOB, email, and phone number at the ready.)

  • Who qualifies: Those making less than $125,000 a year (or $250,000 for married couples) will be forgiven up to $10,000 in federal loan debt. The Dept of Education will also provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to those who received Pell Grants. 

  • One and done: If you’ve already submitted your application during the beta period, the admin says there’s no need to reapply again.

What’s got people talking…

This drug. Yesterday, the FDA made the case for pulling Makena — a  drug meant to lower the risk of premature births — off the market. For context: the agency granted accelerated approval to Makena in 2011, with the condition that a follow-up study would be conducted. But that ended up showing the drug didn’t reduce premature births or result in healthier outcomes for newborns. And that it actually increased the risk of side effects like blood clots and depression in mothers. So now the FDA wants to yank the pregnancy drug after more than 300,000 women have already taken it. Meanwhile, Makena argues there’s evidence the drug may work in some Black women — who are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. And that, apparently, the inconsistent trial outcomes may be the result of differing patient populations. So it’s asking for time to do further research, while keeping the drug available to those who need it

  • Next up: Drug companies allegedly pull medications voluntarily from the market if follow-up trials aren’t showing effectiveness — but Makena’s refusing to do so. The hearing will reportedly wrap up on Wednesday, when a panel of experts will vote on whether the drug should be tossed. After that, FDA leaders will make a final decision on if it should ultimately be withdrawn. 

Who wants his voice heard…

Kanye West. Yesterday, Parler announced that West is buying the social media platform — which has positioned itself as a free-speech alternative to Twitter. (ICYMI, the app is popular among conservatives and was temporarily removed from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for its role in the Jan 6 riots.) The acquisition comes after West was locked out of Twitter and Instagram over antisemitic posts earlier this month. Now, he’s the latest celebrity (see: Elon Musk and former President Trump) to try and acquire a social media platform. Because, West says, he wants to make sure he has the “right to freely express” himself in a world where “conservative opinions” are considered “controversial.” TBD on the value, but the company expects to close the deal by the fourth quarter of 2022.

While we’re honoring World Menopause Day… 

It’s a good reminder that you’re never too young to talk about it.

What could be a game changer for millions...

OTC hearing aids.

Who were ready to Marvel over...

Thaddeus ”Thunderbolt” Ross

Stay Outside

Together with Athleta

The weather’s getting cooler, but that doesn’t mean your workouts have to move inside. With Athleta’s cold weather training styles, you can keep going (and keep warm) from street to summit. No matter how low the temps go. Layer up with their…

Skimm Tested

If you’re ever wondering what’s actually worth your hard-earned cash, let us help you. We put some viral, five star–rated products to the test to see if they live up to the hype. Here’s the inside scoop:

Skimm Picks

Here are today’s recs to help you live a smarter life…

1. Tips for staying sane in this economy. Even if that feels reallyyyyy hard. The latest ep of our “In This Economy?!” miniseries created in partnership with Marcus by Goldman Sachs can help you keep calm(ish) and money on. Listen now.* 

2. A simpler way to check in on your health. Labcorp OnDemand offers easy, convenient tests so you can keep tabs on things like your thyroid and heart health. And share results with your doctor on your own time. Psst…they’re also HSA- and FSA-eligible. Learn more.*

3. Halloween costumes for kids at every age. We’ve rounded up some of our faves, including Disney toddler Halloween costumes, easy onesie baby options, and more. Feeling festive.

4. Stylish but comfortable clothes to wear to the office. Like layering pieces if your workplace is always freezing and comfy shoes so you can commute sans blisters. We got you.


We like to celebrate the wins, big and small. Let us know how your friends, neighbors, coworkers (and yes, even you) are making career moves, checking off goals, or making an impact in the community.

Growing change…Will G (CT). He's spreading the word about Levo, a non-profit org creating a more sustainable and impactful food system using a network of local hydroponic growers. 

(Some) Birthdays…theSkimm's Alyssa Mathews (NY), Ellie Wertheim (NY), Sabrina Burda (NY), Taylor Dilley (OH), Clarissa Mitchell (GA), Virginia Albert (TX), Priscilla Pedroza (TX), Helena Ilardo (MD), Jillian Ziarko (NY), Sally Bohlinger (IA), Jennifer Newberry (NC), Pat Williams (IL), Mattie Calvert (IL), Schmamy Kwong (OH)

PS: Paging all members of theSkimm. Reach out here for a chance to be featured.

Skimm More

Sign up for today’s SkimmU Parenting course all about how to help you track your child’s development 2+ years into the pandemic. We’re kicking things off at 1pm ET today. RSVP here.

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Skimm’d by Rashaan Ayesh, Melanie De Lima, Kate Gilhool, Melissa Goldberg, and Mariza Smajlaj