As black women embrace natural hair, they are also paying closer attention to what’s in the formulations of the products they use. The desire for clean formulation in beauty products is not limited to white women. In 2016, black consumers spent over $2.5 billion on hair care products. Yet a study by the Environmental Working Group found that over 70% of products marketed for black hair contain dangerous ingredients, compared with 40% of hair products that are made for the “general public.”
“‘Natural’ is just marketing in the hair industry,” Ruth Brooks, owner of Organic Beauty Salon in New York City and founder of Harlem’s first organic salon, told Sierra Club. “There’s no incentive to regulate the cosmetics industry. [Black hair] products specifically are a slurry of industrial waste, which lowers the price to be widely sold.” Brooks is on a crusade sharing with her clients the importance of reading ingredient labels. She also plans to open a beauty school dedicated to licensing natural-hair stylists.
A number of organizations, such as Black Women for Wellness, West Harlem Environmental Action, and Women’s Voices for the Earth, have surfaced to advocate and educate on the topic. They have all reported on the issue and published guides for minimizing exposure to potentially hazardous ingredients.
Read the full story at the Sierra Club.
Photo: Eloise Ambursley via Unsplash