A new study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) took a deeper look at 1,177 beauty products specifically designed and marketed for African American women and the results are staggering. We already know that there isn’t a whole lot out there for us, and many of us know that hair relaxers cause baldness and even uterine growths, but let’s take a closer look at this study and what they found.
EWG found one in 12 products were highly hazardous causing side effects like cancer, hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive damage, and allergies. They found that hair relaxers, bleaching products, lipsticks concealers, foundations and even sun protective makeup scored poorly.
“As a black woman myself, I was disheartened that black women have fewer options for healthier products when they are choosing from products specifically targeted to them,” says co-author Nneka Leiba, deputy director for research at EWG.
While you may already know that relaxers and dyes contain lye, even the products that claim to be lye free can have ingredients that are just as harmful. “Even the [products] that market themselves as ‘no lye’ have other ingredients that are also hazardous and could cause chemical burns,” says study co-author Paul Pestano, an EWG senior database analyst.
It is true that there is not a lot a research on cosmetics and personal products but there is even less information on the products designed for black women. But from we can find, the results should raise quite a few concerns.
It should be noted that while sale of hair relaxers and texturizers has gone down 40% in the last seven years, natural hair product sales have gone up 27%. That means natural hair products makes up about 35% of the black hair market. Let’s examine what that looks like. Natural hair products would seemingly have less harmful contents, Yes? No.
EWG says, “Laboratory tests on some products commonly used by Black women, including hair and skin lotions, conditioners and creams, showed estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity, meaning that they mimicked the effects of the hormone estrogen. Other studies have found that Black Americans had higher urinary concentrations of parabens, the hormone-disrupting chemicals commonly used as preservatives in personal care products, pharmaceuticals and foods.”
Here are some of the worst offenders, all scoring as “high hazard” use (7+ or more on a 1-10 scale of toxicity):
DOO GRO Hair Vitalizer Tripple Strength
ORS Hair Fertilizer
Dr. Miracle’s ‘Feel It’ Formula Daily Moisturizing Gro Oil
Creme Of Nature Argan Oil Treatment
Luster’s Pink Oil Moisturizer Hair Lotion, Original
Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding
Ouidad Curl Quencher Hydrafusion Intense Curl Cream
Black Opal Even True Pore Refining Serum
EWG has listed all of the products the examined by category in their comprehensive database.