Toxic chemicals in beauty products commonly used by and marketed to Black people and other people of color could be contributing to racial health inequities.

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.

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Photo Credit: Claudine Hellmuth/E&E News (illustration); Freepik (phtotos); American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (text)