Report Finds Beauty Products For Black Women May Be More Hazardous

December 6, 2016  |  

Black woman makeup

After analyzing 1,177 beauty and personal care products marketed toward Black women, researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) say that what’s meant to help us practice TLC could actually be more harmful than we thought. According to their new report, products that are marketed to Black women are more likely to contain some potentially harmful chemicals and ingredients.

Researchers spent a year obtaining a list of the many popular products sold at all kinds of stores (retail, specialty, pharmacy and the like) that are supposed cater to Black women. You know, the ones made to respond to complaints that big beauty brands are ignoring a pretty huge beauty market. EWG researchers compared the ingredients in these products to a scoring system they have for their Skin Deep database, which analyzes more than 64,000 products on a scale of one to 10. Ten is the highest hazard. They come to a score of between one to 10 based on the hazardous ingredients in the products and the issues they could expose you to. That includes things like preservatives that release formaldehyde and parabens that can disrupt hormones. There are also chemicals that could cause reproductive damage and that have been linked to cancer. Unfortunately, as pointed out by TIME, only 25 percent of the products out of the 1,177 were of “low hazard.” Now compare that to the 40 percent of products that are low hazard, but marketed to the general public.

The products with the worst scores were, for the most part, the usual suspects. That includes hair relaxers (which researchers pointed out have been linked to hair loss and growths in the uterus), coloring treatments and bleaching creams. However, according to the report, pretty hazardous chemicals were also found in some lipsticks, concealers and foundations.

Nneka Leiba, the deputy director of research for the EWG told TIME that as a Black woman, the findings were disheartening. “We know black women don’t only purchase products marketed to them,” she said. “But if a black woman wants to choose products marketed for her, she should be able to find healthy products available to her. This is not acceptable.”

Leiba and her team have provided the list of products for the public to see in order to know what type of ingredients they really contain. Major brands were tested, including CoverGirl’s Queen Collection, Miss Jessie’s, Black Opal, Carol’s Daughter and more.

Leiba told TIME that she hopes the report pushes woman to be vocal about a change in terms of what is going into the products we’re spending more than $7.5 billion on annually. And considering that a lot of what mainstream brands sell don’t do much for our strands, we often feel motivated to try the ones marketed to Black women. Due to the fact that beauty products don’t have to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they are sold, we don’t really know what’s in everything. And with more and more Black women claiming they’ve had severe allergic reactions to everything from lipstick to what’s supposed to be natural henna hair dye marketed to us, that needs to change.

“I want this report to empower black women,” Leiba said. “These are issues that affect men and women. When consumers become educated they can demand companies change their formulation, or they can choose other companies to purchase from. People can demand companies prioritize their safety.”

Check out the full list of products and where they stand on a scale of one to 10 here.


Image via Shutterstock 

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