What is clean beauty & why does it matter for women of color?

We don’t know what we don’t know. That’s something we all know to be true. What is also true is that Black women are often left out of the conversation - especially when it comes to being a demographic that companies target with a message of being active and healthy. 

Black women are often lacking representation in these spaces (such as yoga, healthy skincare, etc.). The truth is the systems in our country are not intent on supporting us.

What if I told you that the FDA doesn’t have authority to approve personal care products, nor can they restrict what goes into the cosmetics and hair products we use. In fact, the last time the legislation to govern cosmetics was updated on a federal level was in 1938. 

What makes this a pressing issue for women of color is that Black women have higher levels of beauty related chemicals in our bodies. Want to know what else? We use more products, so that means we are accumulating toxins in double time. 

And it shows in our clinical data. Black women have higher rates of hormone related health conditions. That's a fact.

It’s not surprising when you look at research such as that done by the Environmental Working Group. They reported that 75% of products that are marketed to Black women are rated as potentially hazardous. Yep.

I honestly think there is a large part of our community who “knew” the products we’ve used for years had/have the potential to be harmful, but I don’t think we KNEW to what extent they actually affected our health.

Most of the harm seemed surface level & only relevant in the face of beauty or meeting a societal ideal standard.

Could we have really known that the products we use cause hormone disruption, fetal impairment, an increase in our chances of cancer, and asthma?

For example. Parabens have been linked to hormonal disruption and fetal impairment. Formaldehyde-releasing ingredients increase the risk of developing cancer. The elusive ingredient fragrance has been associated with cancer, asthma, headaches, eye & skin irritation, and hormonal disruption. Further, hair relaxers have been linked to uterine growths, premature birth, and higher urinary concentrations of parabens.

What if I also told you that the products you use could be a contributing factor to weight gain?

It’s true. The Silent Springs Institute published a study on the chemicals found in black women’s hair products. Listen to this, “Silent Springs Institute found that 80 percent of the 18 tested products (chosen based on customer surveys) contain high levels of chemicals that “disrupt” the endocrine system, which regulates metabolism, reproduction, and more. The product test was broken into six different categories: hot oil treatment, anti-frizz/polish, leave-in conditioner, root stimulator, hair lotion, and relaxer.”

80% is insane. Companies are not even trying to do right. And why would they? Not only are they not regulated, but black women are also so often seen as disposable.

Where does that leave us?

Information is only so good as the action we put behind it.

So what can we do?

Vote with your dollars. Shop with companies that are transparent and responsible with their ingredient selection.

Be an advocate for yourself. Read articles and publications on the long term effects of certain ingredients. Read your labels and look into what is in your products.

Follow clean beauty leaders on Instagram. Start with Sabreen Cosmetics and Clean Beauty for Black Girls.

Learn from We Act https://www.weact.org/whoweare/ourstory/

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This blog post was sponsored by Clean Beauty for Black Girls. Sabreen Cosmetics is proud to announce our newest partnership with Clean Beauty for Black Girls

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