Where Do You Even Start? What Can You Do?
You’d have to be cut off from social media and the news to not be aware of the growing light being shed on the harmfulness of personal care products - specifically skincare & cosmetics.
While a lot of the layers being peeled back come with a heavy shock, the heaviest to me is the lack of awareness we’ve all been afforded on what exactly we’ve been slathering on our bodies. What we’ve been allowing to soak into our skin & bloodstream.
That alone is enough to send you into a tailspin of “what the f*”, but there is more to it than that.
Especially if you are a black woman.
It probably won’t come as a huge surprise, but in this space of pushing harmful chemically laced products, those created for black women are even more harmful. More toxic. More chemicals.
For no other reason than that they are products for people with darker skin tones.
I can’t help but hear Brother Malcolm in my ear everytime I speak on this.
"The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.
The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.
The most neglected person in America is the black woman."
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 & relevant in the face of beauty or meating a societal ideal standard.
Did we really know that they caused 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.
Did we really know they can 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?
We can vote with our dollars.
You can start here with this article that provides a list of some safer products. http://ecosalon.com/cosmetics-for-black-women-shown-to-be-more-toxic/
Follow us on Instagram as well (@cleanbeautyforblackgirls) as we try and highlight safer products & the fearless black women who’ve created them.
Follow & learn from We Act https://www.weact.org/whoweare/ourstory/
Try some DIY Treatments in place of products that are meant to alter our skin.
DIY Beauty Treatments
-For dark spot
Mix: 2 tablespoons of plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of oatmeal
Apply to your problem areas for 15 minutes before washing off with a wet towel.
Repeat daily to get the best results.
While the yoghurt and lemon juice contain lactic acid – a natural bleach.
The oatmeal is gentle mechanical exfoliator and moisturiser.
-Skin tightening and brightening
Apply egg whites to your face
Allow to dry
Tell your Senators that you support the Personal Care Products Safety Act.
One thing I know for sure.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that nobody is going to fight for the safety of black women without the lead of black women.
I’m in this for us. Are you?