Beauty and personal care products marketed to women of color often contain more toxic ingredients than products marketed to white women. As a result, women of color face greater exposure to toxic ingredients used in beauty and personal care products. This is unacceptable. Women of color deserve the same access to safer beauty products.

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#cleanbeautyjustice

Beauty’s Toxic Equity Problem

Your personal care products, from hair moisturizer to mascara, can expose you to toxic chemical ingredients, like parabens, phthalates, phenols and mercury. Even small amounts of exposure to certain chemicals are linked to fertility issues, cancer and more. And these exposures add up over time.

Clean beauty is on the rise, but efforts are predominantly focused on products marketed to white women. Products for darker skin tones and for curly, coily hair types are often ignored.

The color of your skin or texture of your hair shouldn’t block your access to clean beauty products.

#CleanBeautyJustice is just around the corner. Will you join us? #CleanBeautyforEveryone ...

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Women of color should be able to shop for beauty and personal care products and trust that they are safe. #CleanBeautyJustice #CleanBeautyforEveryone ...

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Over $85 billion are spent annually on beauty and personal care products in the U.S, significantly among Black Americans. In 2021, they spent $6.6 billion on beauty. That’s 11.1% of the total US beauty market. Yet, despite significant spending by the Black community, equity in the beauty industry is severely lacking.

If not now, then when? #CleanBeautyJustice #CleanBeautyforEveryone
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Labels and claims like “chemical-free,” “preservative-free,” and “toxin-free” are not regulated in the United States and can be misleading. #CleanBeautyJustice #CleanBeautyforEveryone ...

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Brands and retailers should ensure that the products they create and market are made with the safest possible ingredients for every skin tone and all hair textures. #CleanBeautyJustice #CleanBeautyforEveryone ...

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Some of the most toxic products, including hair straighteners and skin lighteners, are also symbols of an industry that has historically promoted eurocentric beauty norms. #CleanBeautyJustice #CleanBeautyforEveryone ...

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Did you know there is no cosmetic ingredient approval process in the U.S? #CleanBeautyJustice #CleanBeautyforEveryone ...

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Most mainstream efforts to make beauty products safer and cleaner are ignoring products marketed to people of color, like products for curly, coily hair or darker skin tones. #CleanBeautyJustice #CleanBeautyforEveryone ...

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Women of color face disproportionate exposure to toxic chemicals through beauty and personal care products. #CleanBeautyJustice #CleanBeautyforEveryone ...

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Clean Up Your Beauty Routine

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Try to avoid ingredients like phthalates, parabens, benzophenone, oxybenzone, placenta, and diethanolamine or DEA.

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Look out for common misleading marketing claims like “chemical-free”, “toxin-free”, and “preservative-free”.

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Ask your stylist about the ingredients used in salon products.

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Check to see if there's a description of how a retailer or brand is defining its clean label or shop.

Resources & Partners

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Footnotes

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/index.html

2. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. (2021). Safer Beauty Bill Package. https://www.bcpp.org/resource/safer-beauty-bill-package-2021/

3. McKelvey W, Jeffery N, Clark N, Kass D, Parsons PJ. Population-based inorganic mercury biomonitoring and the identification of skin care products as a source of exposure in New York City. Environ Health Perspect. 2011;119(2):203-209. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002396

4. James-Todd T, Terry MB, Rich-Edwards J, Deierlein A, Senie R. Childhood hair product use and earlier age at menarche in a racially diverse study population: a pilot study. Ann Epidemiol. 2011;21(6):461-465. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.01.009

5. Helm JS, Nishioka M, Brody JG, Rudel RA, Dodson RE. Measurement of endocrine disrupting and asthma-associated chemicals in hair products used by Black women. Environ Res. 2018;165:448-458. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2018.03.030

6. Helm JS, Nishioka M, Brody JG, Rudel RA, Dodson RE. Measurement of endocrine disrupting and asthma-associated chemicals in hair products used by Black women. Environ Res. 2018;165:448-458. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2018.03.030

7. James-Todd T, Connolly L, Preston EV, et al. Hormonal activity in commonly used Black hair care products: evaluating hormone disruption as a plausible contribution to health disparities. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2021;31(3):476-486. doi:10.1038/s41370-021-00335-3

8. Boyle MD, Kavi LK, Louis LM, et al. Occupational exposures to phthalates among Black and Latina U.S. hairdressers serving an ethnically diverse clientele: a pilot study. Environ Sci Technol. 2021;55(12):8128-8138. doi:10.1021/acs.est.1c00427

9. Johnson, P.I. (2022, May 12). Personal Care Product Use and Chemical Exposure among Black, Latina, and Vietnamese Women in California Communities [PowerPoint slides]. https://www.healthandenvironment.org/assets/images/webinarimages/2022.05.12_CAPABLE_PaulaJ.pdf 

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