Hair products are making women sick
Women of color have higher levels of beauty product-related chemicals in their bodies than white women do, according to research published today in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
“Pressure to meet Western standards of beauty means Black, Latina and Asian American women are using more beauty products, and thus are exposed to higher levels of chemicals known to be harmful to health,” wrote Ami R. Zota, ScD, MS, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University, in a press release.
For example, social-justice think tank Perception Institute found that one in five black women feel societal pressure to chemically straighten their hair for work — which is twice the number of white women who feel compelled to do the same. These chemical straighteners contain chemical compounds that mimic estrogen, which can trigger premature reproductive development in girls as well as uterine tumors.
Furthermore, women of color from low-income backgrounds are more likely to live in places that have higher levels of pollutants, according to the World Health Organization.
Bhavna Shamasunder, a professor in the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College who co-authored the report, wrote: “For women who live in already polluted neighborhoods, beauty product chemicals may add to their overall burden of exposures to toxic chemicals.”