Study says beauty products marketed to women of color less safe

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COLUMBIA - Black women have many beauty products to pick through, but not all products are safe according to a new study. Hair products especially can create major heath issues. 

The Environmental Working Group, who conducted the study, found less than one fourth of hair and beauty products were considered "low risk", with very few hazardous ingredients. This is compared to products marketed to the general public.  Researchers found 40 percent of those products are classified as "low risk." The study also found that those products that did contain hazardous ingredients could be linked to: cancer, hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive damage, allergies and other adverse health effects. Some of the worst scoring health products were hair relaxers, hair colors, and bleaching products. 

Abby Rhodes, hairstylist at The Marc, said people should be concerned about what is in their hair products.

"First and foremost you're going to find parabens in a lot of beauty products and the problem with that is they have been proven to be carcinogenic, more and more companies are eliminating those. Same with sulfate-based ingredients and over-the-counter mousses contain butane," Rhodes said.

She said if you wouldn't put that chemical on your hair directly, it is probably best not to use a product with it. 

Rhodes said organic products are always a safe way to go. 

"It's not that they [organic products] are inherently superior, it's just that I think little by little our world is starting to open our eyes that harmful chemicals exist in all types of products that we use," Rhodes said. 

Breanna Duroche, said she used to relax her hair when she was younger, but learned about the harmful chemicals and stopped. She said it is frightening to see what is in these products. 

"It's frightening because it can really damage your hair and it can also have very serious repercussions," Duroche said.

Duroche said she now let's her hair go natural most of the time and now reads labels. She is happy she doesn't use these products anymore, but is concerned for the people that used them for a long time. 

"I think its more concerning that so many people went on using relaxers without really knowing or understanding what they were doing to their hair and their body," Duroche said. 

She said recently she has seen more and more women of color letting their hair go natural. 

The study said there has been a lot of research done on the effects of chemicals found in hair relaxers, but not enough about other health cosmetics promoted to black women. 

The researchers who conducted the study said using products with harmful ingredients should cut back or cut them out entirely.