Experts have given out a fresh warning that makeup products and beauty products marketed at people of color have considerably higher quantities of dangerous chemicals, including steroids and heavy metals. So much so, they say that black, Latina, and Asian-American women in the US have notably higher levels of these chemicals in their bodies compared to white women.
Health policy experts from George Washington University and Occidental College recently wrote about the issue in a commentary article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Their research points the finger at beauty products such as hair relaxing creams and face creams that declare to have skin-lightening properties. Some of these products break FDA regulations, yet people can still obtain them “under the counter” or on the Internet throughout the US.
Skin-lightening creams were found to contain hydroquinone (defined as a potential carcinogen by the FDA) or inorganic mercury. Multiple cases of mercury poisoning, characterized by damage to the kidneys and the main nervous system, have even been reported after using skin-lightening products.
In a study of New York City residents, foreign-born Dominican women were found to achieve the highest levels of mercury in their urine. In all the organizations with high levels of mercury in their system, skin-lightening creams were followed back as a source of exposure. The scientists also cite multiple other cases of mercury poisoning after the use of skin-lightening products.
Some curly hair relaxers and straighteners were shown to contain placenta and professional chemicals, such as parabens. These either contain estrogen or influence estrogenic pathways, which can potentially trigger uterine tumors and premature puberty in girls, something the study records is documented in Africa American girls exposed to these hair products from a young age.
“Pressure to meet Western specifications of beauty means Dark, Latina, and Asian United states women are using more beauty products and so are exposed to higher levels of chemicals known to be harmful to health, ” Ami Zota, associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University, said in a statement.
This particular issue has been elevated before. A written report by the Environmental Working Group released last year found that 1 in 12 beauty items marketed towards black women contained “highly hazardous” degrees of potentially toxic chemicals.
“For women who stay in already polluted neighborhoods, beauty product chemicals may add to their overall burden of exposures to toxic chemicals, ” said Bhavna Shamasunder, an assistant professor in the Urban and Environment Policy Department at Occidental College. “Certain racial/ethnic groupings may be systematically and disproportionately exposed to chemicals in beauty items since factors such as institutionalized racism can influence product use. ”