Cosmetics marketed at women of colour contain higher levels of toxins such as mercury, steroids and hormone-disrupting chemicals that are associated with a range of health problems, including cancer, experts have warned.
According to experts from George Washington University and Occidental College in the US.
• Even small amounts of toxins in beauty products could trigger “adverse health consequences” that affect fertility
• They could affect the development of a foetus’ brains.
• They contain environmental chemicals – from skin-lightening creams and other products designed to enable women to conform to European beauty norms.
• Some skin-lighteners contain hidden ingredients such as mercury and steroids.
• Hair relaxers and straighteners can be laced with the hormone oestrogen, which can trigger premature reproductive development in young girls and tumours in the uterus.
• A chemical used in vaginal douching and other beauty products, called DEP, may also cause birth defects in babies and has been linked to health problems in women.
• Skin-lightening creams can contain hydroquinone, topical corticosteroids, or inorganic mercury, which can lead to mercury poisoning, characterised by damage to the kidneys and the central nervous system.
In a comment article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Ami Zota and Dr. Bhavna Shamasunder wrote: “Racial discrimination based on European beauty norms can lead to internalised racism, body shame, and skin tone dissatisfaction, factors that can influence product use to achieve straighter hair or lighter skin.
“Thus, beauty product use may be one way that structural discrimination becomes biologically embedded.”
They said the US limits the amount of mercury in skin products, but unlicensed cosmetics were still available.
As reported by the Telegraph, the academics warned that doctors working in obstetrics and gynaecology “should be aware of the potentially toxic effects of commonly used beauty products, recognise disparities across these demographics, and be prepared to counsel patients who have questions about these and other environmental exposures.” (Punch)