Malignant Makeup


EWG’s Skin Deep guide ranks personal care products based on the safety of their ingredients. Sadly, many products targeted for Black Women ranked poorly on this scale. This is a significant amount of products because Black Women account for 22% of personal care products sold. Even more worrying, there are not many options for women of color when deciding which personal care products to use.

In an analysis of the ingredients of 1,177 beauty products, one in 12 were found to be highly hazardous and one in four were found to pose a low health hazard. Many of the worst rated products are hair relaxers, hair colors, and bleaching chemicals. Chemical hair relaxers can do more than just relax. They can cause baldness and even growths in the uterus and all of the relaxers EWG tested had dangerously bad scores. However, even lipsticks concealers and foundations were found to be dangerous and only more broadly used products such as bar soaps, body oils, and moisturizers were found to have higher safety ratings.

By hazardous, I mean that these were found to be endocrine disrupting chemicals. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are very dangerous to one’s health because they can enter our bodies through our largest organ, the skin and then disrupt our hormones by mimicking them. Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers so they are very important for our health. When these messages are disrupted, it can cause illnesses in the future. These can include  cancer, hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive damage, allergies and other adverse health effects.

In fact, one study found that Black Americans have on average a higher concentration of Parabens and Retinyl Palmitate which are commonly used dangerous chemicals that should be avoided as much as possible. Some other chemicals to avoid are Formaldehyde-releasing chemicals such as DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea and Imidazolidinyl Urea. You should also look out for Methylisothiazolinone and Fragrance.

If you would like to consider new products and safer alternatives you can search your products using EWG's Skin Deep Database. You can also call your Congressman to urge them to pass bills for further regulations on personal care products. You can also switch your products in moderation by switching products such as your foundation while keeping your favorite moisturizer.

By: Sara Frawley

melanie gabrell