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Jackson Hernandez
Jackson Hernandez

Toxic Beauty !!TOP!!

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), women use an average of 12 personal care products a day, exposing themselves to an average of 168 chemical ingredients, so it's vital to understand what's in the products you use. Here are some tips if you're looking to make the switch to non-toxic beauty products.

Toxic Beauty

It can be intimidating to switch to non-toxic beauty products if you have a cabinet full of conventional cosmetics. Remember that "chemicals" aren't inherently bad (sometimes labels use scientific names for naturally-derived ingredients), but ignorance isn't bliss when it comes to beauty product labels.

Another great on-the-go tool to reference when shopping for new beauty products is the Think Dirty app, which allows users to scan a product's barcode in-store for easy-to-understand product evaluations.

There are almost too many chemical compounds found in beauty products to list them all here. Luckily, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a handy "Red List" of ingredients to look out for in different categories of beauty and personal care products, so you can check products before buying.

In the same way that many companies "greenwash" products to make them appear sustainable, personal care brands often "clean wash" products to make them seem more natural or safe. Marketing and labeling standards for beauty products are nearly a free-for-all, so, like with food labels, it's more important to look at the ingredient list. Words like "natural," "clean," and "non-toxic" are not regulated by the FDA on labels, so it's up to consumers to do their own vetting of these claims.

Adawe takes issue with these creams for a number of reasons: She says many skin-lightening creams sold over the internet contain toxic but unlisted chemicals, including mercury. Mercury has been found to cause a host of serious health problems, especially for babies and children. At the time the ad ran in November 2019, Adawe says her group had found Amazon was selling 15 products that tested positive for mercury.

With billions of people across the world slathering hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals on their bodies each day, many of which have been proven to be toxic, the filmmaker felt this was a story worth pursuing.

In the end, rather than conclude that people should stop using personal care products and cosmetics, Toxic Beauty offers solutions and hope for safer, cleaner beauty products free from harmful chemicals.

Organizations like the Resilient Sisterhood Project are helping Black women understand reproductive diseases that disproportionately affect them, the links to chemical exposures and opportunities for action. And beauty influencers are leveraging their platforms to build awareness among beauty enthusiasts.

While these efforts are definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to cleaning up the beauty aisle, they are not inclusive: The majority of clean beauty products are currently geared toward affluent white women even though women of color are bearing the brunt of toxic exposure in beauty products.

In the US, beauty products are largely unregulated. Everyone is at risk, but women of color face extra hazards from the products that are marketed to them. And these hazards pile on top of health disparities created by other systemic injustices.

I sat through harsh chemicals and heating tools on the quest to encompass a beauty standard that never intended to include the diversity of the Black and Brown girl. These tools not only manipulated the texture of my hair, but my perception of myself and my roots as well. As a young girl, I believed that that experience was not only synonymous with beauty but also with culture. It was normalized. When something becomes so ingrained in your everyday life, it is almost impossible to analyze its impact. It did not matter what I applied on my hair as long as I got the results I wanted. How could something be harmful if it makes you feel beautiful?

The real secret behind the beauty and personal care industry is that they are virtually unregulated, and therefore are allowed to use untested chemicals in their products. Of over 80,000 chemicals available today, only a handful are banned in consumer products.

The concept of body burden looks at the sum total of all the toxic chemicals that have accumulated in our bodies over time. Some of those chemicals have synergistic effects, meaning they create an even worse toxin when combined. In addition, studies have shown that even low doses of endocrine disrupting chemicals can have serious health effects.

The good news is that there are many wonderful, safe and natural personal care products available today. But buyer beware: there is also a lot of greenwashing going on. Many brands that are jumping on the natural and non-toxic bandwagon are not really all that better or safer for human health or the planet.

Great information! I love finding new natural personal care and beauty items. Once you know what to look for it can be fun. I love makeup but I feel I can get just as good, if not better, natural products.

Findings provide overwhelming evidence that racist and gendered beauty standards have a devastating impact on both the economy and wellbeing of individuals. This groundbreaking study estimates toxic beauty ideals cost the U.S. economy $305B due to body dissatisfaction and $501B due to appearance-based discrimination in 2019. Expressed in current dollars, the costs of body dissatisfaction and appearance-based discrimination would be even higher, with inflation averaging 3.9% annually between 2019 and 2022.

"We have known for a long time that narrow and biased beauty ideals can be toxic, especially for girls' self-esteem and self-concept, and can play a role in the risk for developing an eating disorder or other serious mental health conditions," said Dr. Austin. "We've also had a sense of how pervasive discrimination based on weight and skin shade can be and how cruelly undermining in just about all facets of the lives of affected individuals. But until we did our study, we had no idea how broad reaching and enormous the impacts are on our economy. By our estimates, hundreds of billions of dollars are being squandered in our economy every year. Why? Because our society has not yet been willing to reckon with the pernicious effects of sexist and racist beauty ideals and the discrimination that serves no other purpose than to enforce and perpetuate these noxious ideals. We hope our study findings will be a catalyst to begin that long-overdue reckoning."

Beauty ideals are socially constructed notions of ideal beauty. In the United States, the most accepted beauty norms reflect white standards, reinforced through media, film, family, and other sociocultural channels. This has a profound impact on the way people think and feel about themselves and the people around them.

The toll toxic beauty ideals can take on individuals and their livelihoods are both vast and dangerous, with body dissatisfaction shown to lead to depression, anxiety, suicide, smoking, eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and appearance-based discrimination shown to result in increased risk of poor health care, weight gain, incarceration, premature mortality, and more.

Researchers say toxic chemicals in beauty products commonly used by and marketed to Black people and people of color could be contributing to racial health inequities. Claudine Hellmuth/E&E News (illustration); Freepik (phtotos); American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (text)

So say researchers and community groups studying chemicals in consumer goods, arguing that the term "environmental justice," which has gained prominence in recent years to describe how communities of color bear larger pollution burdens, should be expanded to include exposure from toxic beauty products.

Just as communities of color often are located in more polluted areas due to discriminatory zoning and housing policies, centuries of racist and sexist beauty standards favoring straight hair, for example, have pushed Black women and feminine people, in particular, to use products containing harsh chemicals that could harm their health.

"We want to marry the more traditional, place-based environmental justice framework with this well-documented body of evidence on endocrine-disrupting chemicals in beauty products marketed to women of color," she said.

Three years ago, she co-authored a paper in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology about "the environmental injustice of beauty" noting that just as racist policies like redlining contribute to higher pollution burdens in neighborhoods of color, systemic racism also contributes to beauty standards that lead Black women and feminine people of color to potentially harmful personal care products.

"People are faced with the decision of use these products to assimilate or be met with resistance at work if you want to wear your hair in a more natural form that might prevent exposure to these toxins," she said. "We are dying at the cause of beauty, and that is something that needs to be addressed."

The Personal Care Products Council, whose members represent 90% of the U.S. beauty industry, said in a statement that use of parabens and phthalates in beauty products is safe and that they "are used across product types and their usage is not specific to cosmetics and personal care products marketed towards women of color."

But how clean is clean enough? Documentary Toxic Beauty (available Jan. 28 on iTunes and On Demand) shines a light on the flimsy labels and lack of regulations in the beauty industry that has created a need for safer products. Director Phyllis Ellis interviewed scientists, lawyers and consumers who are fighting for stricter laws to regulate which ingredients we can put on our bodies.

All of these toxic chemicals have been banned by the European Union and many other nations, and many have been slated for removal from the store brands of major U.S. retailers, including Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS Health.[3] For example, as of the end of 2019, CVS Health prohibits the use of formaldehyde, many chemicals that release formaldehyde, many parabens, dibutyl phthalate and diethylhexyl phthalate. Some of these are already banned from products sold in Whole Foods.[4] 041b061a72


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