Study: Black Beauty Products More Likely to Contain Dangerous Chemicals
Gregg Hollander | December 19, 2016 | Defective Products
A recent study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, a not-for-profit think tank, revealed cosmetics marketed to black women are more likely to contain possibly harmful ingredients, as compared to those marketed to the general public.
The analysis explored the listed ingredients in some 1,180 beauty and personal care products sold to black customers. Of the products on that list, less than one quarter received good scores in a rating system developed by the researchers to measure potentially dangerous ingredients. Compare this to beauty products marketed to the general public, in which 40 percent received good scores.
About 1 in 12 products marketed to black women was ranked “highly hazardous.” Similar figures existed for products marketed to the general public, but the disparity with regard to the “good” – i.e., “safe” – products suggests black women have far fewer options when it comes to beauty products that aren’t linked to cancer, hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive damage, infections, allergies and other adverse health effects.
As our West Palm Beach injury attorneys know, injuries from beauty products can have serious and long-lasting consequences. Responsible parties may include anyone in the chain of distribution. Primarily, this will be the cosmetic company that designed and manufactured the product. It could also include the store that sold it. These claims will typically assert one of two main legal theories: Product liability and breach of warranty.
In product liability lawsuits, one can assert either strict product liability (plaintiff was injured, plaintiff was the kind of consumer defendant intended to use the product, defect did not occur after product was sold) or negligence (defendant created/ sold the product, defendant should have known product could be dangerous, defendant failed to warn plaintiff, plaintiff was injured by use of the product as intended or reasonably foreseeable).
In breach of warranty cases, the assertion is that defendant either expressed or implied that the product was fit and safe for a certain use, and this proved not to be true, resulting in injury to the plaintiff.
There may also be some cases in which liability could be asserted against a salon or other beauty care professional where application of the product was improper, resulting in injury. An example would be leaving hair dye on for too long, resulting in scalp burns and hair loss.
Although some of these cases may be asserted as class action lawsuits, individual claims can also be successful and often more lucrative.
The EWG study revealed that while black consumers comprise about 13 percent of the total market, they buy 22 percent of the $42 billion in cosmetic products that are sold annually in the U.S. So there is a significant market for these beauty products, yet fewer safe options.
Of the 1,180 products reviewed by the researchers, about 280 contained hormone-disrupting chemicals, such as parabens. Another 30 products – including powders and foundations for the face and styling products for the hair, contained a preservative that releases formaldehyde.
The very worst products in terms of safety were hair relaxers. These products scored an average 8.1 out of 10, with 10 being issued for the most dangerous products. Hair color and bleaching products scored 7.9 out of 10.
The research showed that some labels fail to disclose all the chemicals that are found in these products, which could open the door for a claim of failure to warn.
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BIG MARKET FOR BLACK COSMETICS, BUT LESS-HAZARDOUS CHOICES LIMITED, Dec. 6, 2016, Environmental Working Group