How Eurocentric attractiveness specifications get less than the pores and skin

The use of chemical compounds and most likely poisonous makeup to fulfill societal expectations of beauty is not a new phenomenon. From historic Egyptians who wore harmful eyeliner, to women in the 19th century masking their faces in opium while they slept, natural beauty solutions have been compromising wellness for centuries.

Not too long ago, cosmetic providers have turn into more crafty in disguising the damaging results of their items. With the arrival of the Internet and photoshop, Eurocentric specifications of splendor have become extra unrealistic—especially for gals of color.

Natural beauty benchmarks in Western cultures favour sure European features—including long straight hair, significant eyes, a tiny nose, and large cheekbones.

Black girls in unique are pressured to use more cosmetics and hair treatment solutions to satisfy Eurocentric requirements of natural beauty. Products targeted to Black ladies also are likely to be extra toxic—exposing them to bigger concentrations of harmful chemicals which can consequence in significant overall health problems.               


“[Black women] implement way a lot more hair products and solutions and skincare solutions just to healthy into standardsof beauty that hardly ever experienced us in head in any case,” Shamsa Hassan, co-founder of Afiya attractiveness, stated in an interview with The Journal.                               

Afiya Natural beauty was established in 2018 by Hassan and her sister Kaltum to give gals of color with a all-natural, safer choice to common beauty products and solutions.                       

“The inspiration arrived immediately after I experienced my to start with son,” Hassan stated. “[I was] finding out about distinctive topical substances that have been very carcinogenic and unsafe, in particular at the time I was pregnant, so I was definitely concerned.”

The toxic substances found in cosmetics are broadly labeled as endocrine disruptors—toxins that can interfere with hormone regulation methods in the human body.

“Because fertility relies upon in aspect on a pattern of hormone action, alterations to hormone activity can change fertility,” Sari van Anders, Canada 150 Study Chair in Social Neuroendocrinology, Sexuality, & Gender/Sexual intercourse, wrote in an e-mail to The Journal.

“They can bind to hormone receptors, which can reduce typical hormone action or increase it between other mechanisms […] Some of the downstream consequences can include things like adjustments to hormone signalling needed for gamete advancement or release.”

Fertility issues disproportionately affect females of color compared to their white counterparts.

These problems are not normally mentioned in communities of color, which can make gals come to feel isolated and neglected.

“It’s unfortunate to me simply because I’ve suffered by way of really tough pregnancies, and I never felt listened to or noticed. […] My issues ended up just swept aside and created me really feel like I was the anomaly,” Hassan mentioned.               

She expressed frustration with the lack of motion taken to safeguard ladies of colour from chemicals revealed to impact fertility.                 

“I do not think there’s been enough of a motion to connection those people reproductive overall health issues, in particular in communities of color, to the sorts of merchandise that we are making use of each individual solitary day.”

One particular of Afiya Beauty’s main ambitions is to educate people today how to make safer possibilities when deciding upon natural beauty items. While deciding on normal goods can be far more high priced, Hassan believes the health benefits are worth it.

“It’s not just [an] expenditure into our organization, it is also an expenditure into their [customer’s] have health,” she stated.

“We are unable to compete with drugstore charges, but which is not our industry and that is not what we do. After we give [customers] the transparent listing of ingredients that we use, why we use [the ingredients], how we resource the complete procedure of how we make our merchandise, they are a lot much more keen to invest.”                       

Looking at the ubiquity of damaging chemical compounds in every day products, it can be complicated to begin making changes to reduce exposure—but it is attainable by schooling and producing modest alterations around time. “Be conscious of what you are consuming. It’s not difficult to make rapid, straightforward switches,” Hassan stated.


Particular care products and solutions and cosmetics are not just for vanity—they’re also a way for women of all ages to convey their society and id. Also, self-care rituals can be important traditions and routines inside people and communities.

“It was a point that we did jointly,” Hassan claimed. “Sundays was the time that my mother, my grandmother, my aunts, my sisters, we all sat all over, and we would make our hair masks and our facial masks.”

These spouse and children traditions ended up important to Hassan simply because they provided a house for her relatives to emphasis on self-treatment in a way that was not governed by Eurocentric natural beauty criteria.          

As a Black woman, Hassan feels that she and, by extension, her spouse and children members, aren’t equally represented in the splendor and wellness field.

“We took care of ourselves in the way that we outlined wellness,” Hassan explained. “We do not in good shape into the stereotypical requirements of natural beauty or wellness and we never ever noticed ourselves represented in that place.”

Just one of the most toxic kinds of beauty solutions promoted generally to women of colour is hair care products and solutions for colouring, bleaching, and enjoyable.                    

“Black girls from a incredibly young age are altering their hair texture or making use of extensions or extreme warmth on their by natural means kinky, coily hair in purchase tomake it straighter,” Jada Hollingsworth, ArtSci ’22, stated in an job interview with The Journal.

“I consider the intention in going through numerous of these processes of straightening, stress-free, perming, or the use o
f extensions [is] to satisfy specified societal standards.”

A short while ago, the Environmental Functioning Group (EWG), an American analysis entity, founded the Skin Deep initiative, which aims to advise the public about harmful cosmetic goods.     

Notably, this analysis found that inside of the class of hair treatment goods qualified towards Black women of all ages, there was not a single item that was classified as ‘low hazard.’


Though Eurocentric elegance requirements loom massive, females of colour are often empowered and affected by the elder girls in their family members these as moms and aunts.                                   

“[My mom] rocked a shorter glimpse, when she was in her 20s coming into into her 30s,” Hollingsworth claimed.

“I’m viewing all these pics of my mother with me as a little child […] I’m like, this woman is attractive and I really do not have anything to fear about very long-expression in phrases of going small and taking treatment of my hair in its natural condition.”

Reassurance from older ladies in the family is bolstered by tendencies within Black communities that press for much more organic hairstyles.

“Natural hair actions are likely to observe civil legal rights movements,” Hollingsworth reported. “In the 60s and 70s, there was a large force for purely natural hair [and] all over again in the 90s for a small little bit.”

“Today you are going to see a great deal of articles on-line, with the objective achieving into that pure elegance, training ladies of colour who may well not have experienced experience working with their normal hair ever in their life […] how to regulate their hair, nourish it, what to consume in get to make it improve and behave in a specific way.”

As additional study is brought to mild about how sure items hurt the hair of women of colour around time, numerous have been advocating for hitting the reset button.

“There’s also a huge phenomenon in Black on the web communities called The Big Chop, which is fundamentally having rid of hair that has been destroyed more than time thanks to excessive product use and commencing [with] a new, normally shorter, head of hair, treating it from its virgin point out and making it into what it can grow to be,” Hollingsworth explained.                    

Regardless of the attractiveness of The Massive Chop to a lot of women of colour, it’s not possible for everyone.  

“Certain people are in positions exactly where it’s easier claimed than completed,” she claimed. “Certain schools, certain work locations, and employment will straight up ban selected hairstyles, and, if not absolutely banned, discriminate on the foundation of someone putting on their hair in a way that is not always presentable.”                    

“You actually do have to evaluate the posture you’re in to be ready to do that Major Chop.”                                       


Some of the most widespread endocrine disruptors found in cosmetic and individual treatment merchandise are parabens, phthalates, and bisphenol-A (BPA). Though many folks may perhaps realize these substances from shampoo bottles and other family merchandise, makers have concealed their hazardous character underneath an obscure, scientific-sounding name.                                   

“Endocrine disruptor publicity is practically universal now mainly because [parabens, and phthalates, and BPAs] are located in some of our most usually-utilized products, from many paints to nail polish to shampoos to plastic meals containers,” van Anders stated.                                     

“There are specific actions individuals can consider to reduce their personal load, but key regulatory improve demands to happen […] at federal and global degrees to make the even bigger variance.”                                       

loophole that a lot of companies use to avoid disclosing endocrine disruptors in their products is to checklist them on substances lists beneath “fragrance” or “perfume.”                                   

Fragrances are saved as trade secrets and techniques and, as a final result, firms do not have to disclose their composition in the record of substances to hold competition from copying their signature scent.                             

Even if the companies keep the concentrations of chemical substances in their goods under a sure threshold mandated by restrictions, there is still the chance of blend effects—additional damaging outcomes that manifest when particular chemical compounds are existing collectively. As a result, the cocktail of endocrine disruptors could have far more adverse health effects that would not have happened with a one chemical.    

When everyone is influenced by these gaps in government regulations, men and women of colour have a tendency to have the highest physique load, however they have a tendency to be neglected in study.                                   

Numerous experiments have uncovered that ladies of color are exposed to higher concentrations of neuroendocrine disruptors, nonetheless minimal to no research has been finished on why these dissimilarities take place.                               

Lots of hypothesize that differences in cosmetic product choice and utilization lead to these disparities. This speculation has not been confirmed, nevertheless, research on the contents of these goods gives fantastic cause to think that cosmetic items are a likely offender.                              


The wellbeing effects of magnificence solutions acquire time to manifest and are neither obvious nor clear. This will make searching for safer solutions appear like a non-pressing challenge.

“If something works, you really don’t take care of it if it’s not broken,” Hassan said. “If your hair appears to be like terrific, your pores and skin feels wonderful and you’ve applied it, and your mom’s been working with it, and your aunts have been applying it, your girlfriends
use it—that’s all you know.”       

Hassan hopes that Afiya Splendor will get started a conversation that will get persons to re-consider what goods they use each day.                                     

“Nobody required to appear in and supply far better choices since there just there was not a disruption in the magnificence field. [The cosmetics industry] catered to a pretty distinct, really Eurocentric, white-centric version of splendor and any one else who’s on the periphery obtained the shitty item.”                                 

Afiya Splendor is exceptional in that they maintain the wellbeing of their prospects as 1 of their central values and target their organic goods towards girls of color.

“Our special worth proposition is that we definitely do have the greatest wellbeing desire in thoughts of ladies and women’s reproductive health and fitness,” Hassan stated.

While competing with big businesses that use hazardous substances in their items can be challenging, Hassan believes it is in just achieve.

“It’s genuinely needless for these larger businesses to use these kinds of severe substances and these types of severe parabens in their formulation for the reason that there are choices,” she stated.

“If there is better instruction and consciousness all around these challenges. I think that persons will make far better choices.”