Many beauty products contain harsh chemicals linked to numerous different health problems, including cancer. The irony is that they’re often marketed as “personal care” products, when in reality they do anything but care for your body.
The underlying issue here is that without demand, companies wouldn’t be making these products in the first place. People love to change or enhance their physical appearance using makeup, hair dye, and other products. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, unless you begin to feel self conscious about your appearance without the use of these products (or if you’re using non-natural products). Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for developing your own personal style and encouraging self expression, but are these things really worth risking your health over?
A recent article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that beauty products marketed toward women of colour actually contain higher levels of harsh chemicals. This isn’t the first time a group of scientists has come to this conclusion either; another study conducted by researchers at the Environmental Working Group found that beauty and hair products aimed at black women are more likely to contain dangerous chemicals as well.
The Studies That Revealed Beauty Products for Black Women Contain Harsher Chemicals
Let’s take a look at the more recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology first. Many of the products they looked at were hair relaxing creams and facial products that claim to hold “skin lightening properties,” which are all typically directed toward women of colour.
Though there are some guidelines on these products imposed by the FDA in order to protect people from exposing themselves to harsh chemicals, the regulations aren’t strict enough and people can still purchase products illegally “under the counter” or online.
Some of their findings include that skin-lightening creams often contain hydroquinone (considered a potential carcinogen by the FDA) or mercury. There have been numerous cases of mercury poisoning after using skin-lightening creams, and mercury is a known neurotoxin.
The study provides numerous examples, stating, “In a population-based study of New York City residents, those with the highest urine mercury levels were foreign-born Dominican women of reproductive age, and skin-lightening creams were identified as a source of exposure among highly exposed populations.”
Another popular product that many black women and children use are hair relaxing creams, often containing placenta (potential source of estrogen hormones), which has been linked to premature development. Many hair products designed for black women have been associated with increased risk of uterine fibroid tumors as well as breast cancer.
In regards to the Environmental Working Group’s study, the researchers found that 1 in 12 products marketed to black women were considered highly hazardous. Only 25% of the products for black women were considered “low hazard,” in comparison to approximately 40% of the products aimed at the general population. Keep in ming that even low hazard products don’t mean risk-free; they’re still hazardous to the body.
Similar to the other researchers’ findings, the worst products for black women were hair relaxers, as many contained lye and other harsh chemicals, along with bleaching products. However, even some of the lipsticks, concealers, and foundations meant for darker complexions also scored poorly in terms of chemicals. Some chemical straighteners meant for super curly hair or black women in general were linked to baldness and higher risk of growths in the uterus.
It’s clear that many of the personal care and beauty products women, men, and even children use are filled with chemicals. Whether it’s your deodorant, shampoo, hair cream, makeup, or whatever else, if it’s conventionally made, it likely has some sort of cancer-causing ingredient(s) found within it. The great news is that there are tons of all-natural alternatives as well as recipes to make your own!