For many women, the use of cosmetics is part of their everyday routine. Most of the time, those products are used without incident. However, there are some times when manufacturers or distributors of these products fail to make sure the items are safe for use as intended. This can result in burns, scarring, allergic reactions, and infections. In terms of cost, it may leave consumers grappling with emotional distress as well as medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic and non-economic costs.
By law, companies have to adhere to product safety standards when designing, manufacturing, and distributing their products. A failure to do that that results in an injury can be grounds for a product liability lawsuit.
A recent study by the Environmental Working Group found that products made for and marketed to black consumers are markedly less safe than those produced for other consumers. An examination of 1,177 personal care and beauty products sold to black women indicated one in 12 was considered “highly hazardous” on the environmental group’s scoring system.
Since there is also a disparity in the percentage of “low hazard” choices for black women compared to the general public, that tells us black consumers have fewer choices for safe products, even though as a percentage, they buy and use more personal care products than most other women. Their spending accounts for 22 percent of the market share, which is estimated to be a $42 billion industry.
So what does it mean for consumers who are being sold these products that have potentially high toxicity levels? It could mean a range of adverse side effects, including:
- Hormone disruption;
- Developmental or reproductive damage (i.e., growths in the uterus, premature birth, low infant birth weight);
- Allergies; or
The products for black women that scored the worst were hair colors, hair relaxers, and bleaching products. None of these, or the lipsticks, concealers, foundations, and sun-protective makeup products marketed to black women, were categorized as “low hazard.” When it came to hair relaxers in particular, these products consistently ranked as being extremely dangerous because even though they no longer typically contain sodium hydroxide (a caustic ingredient), they still have high levels of formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.
The good news is that some of the use of harsher products has dropped off in the last couple of years as black women are increasingly favoring hair styles that are more natural. However, it should be noted that so-called “natural” products may not necessarily be perfectly safe either. Lab testing on some of these products, including lotions, creams, and conditioners, indicates they may have an effect on hormone balance, caused by the presence of a type of preservative called parabens. Many products contained more than one paraben.
Furthermore, the study authors looked at the presence of a substance called retinyl palmitate, which is an antioxidant ingredient that can cause skin tumors and lesions when on skin that is then exposed to the sun. Almost two-thirds of concealers and more than 30 percent of foundations marketed to black consumers contained this ingredient.
This is the same organization that previously analyzed the chemical exposure hazards faced by workers in black hair salons.
If you have suffered a serious injury as a result of dangerous or defective beauty care products, we can help.
Contact the Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
BIG MARKET FOR BLACK COSMETICS, BUT LESS-HAZARDOUS CHOICES LIMITED, Dec. 6, 2016, EWG
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