A new investigation from researchers from the non-profit Environmental Working Group examined 1,777 beauty products marketed specifically to Black women and found alarming results. One in 12 beauty products for black women were ranked highly hazardous on the scoring system of EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. Only a small percentage (around 25%) scored low for potentially hazardous ingredients.
From body washes to lipsticks to hair treatment products, products marketed to black women were found to have “hormone-disrupting parabens, chemicals linked to skin cancer, and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives that can increase the risk of skin allergies”. Mother Jones
The worst-scoring products were hair relaxers, hair colors and bleaching products but that comes as no surprise. More black women are trying to steer clear of those types products and the use of relaxers have declined in recent years. But the rise in women going natural is not enough as Black people make up only around 13% of the U.S. population, but according to one estimate,
“African-Americans’ spending accounts for as much as 22 percent of the $42 billion-a-year personal care products market, suggesting that they buy and use more of such products – including those with potentially harmful ingredients – than Americans as a whole.” EWG’s Skin Deep®
Unfortunately, research on products marketed to black women is scarce with only hair straighteners getting the most attention. Quite often we are left out of research and how it affects us and this only explains why we see such devastating information on what we use. The good news about this information is that Skin Deep® has now added these products to their database and they serve as a free online resource for finding less-hazardous alternatives to personal care products.
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A list of the products added to the list can be found here and products we discuss and use everyday like Eden Body Works or SheaMoisture were tested. One a scale from 1-10 with 1-2 being the lowest and 9-10 being the highest, you can find out various beauty products and how they fall on the spectrum. Another perk is that their extensive database can be accessed on your phone or tablet through their app, EWG’s Healthy Living App
With a database of more than 64,000 products, you can access their information while on the go to ensure what you purchase is safe. Despite more of us going natural and paying closer attention to ingredient lists, we need to be even more diligent about accessing the information available to us on how safe our products actually are.
More research is needed (and we hope it is coming) but until then, organizations like EWG’s Skin Deep® are making it possible for us to be safer in our product choices. You can read more about these products here: