Personal Care News

The latest news in personal care.

Could African-American beauty products pose health risks?

Keep in mind most of these beauty supplies marketed to African Americans are produced and supplied by Asians or Europeans. There are still Black suppliers and producers of beauty products, so before you buy please READ THE LABEL AND BUY BLACK!

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Black-Owned Toilet Paper, Mouthwash and Laundry Detergent Brands

Typically, we don’t give much thought to who is the owner of the companies that produce the products we use. From toothpaste to mouthwash, soap to laundry detergent, bathroom products, and all the other products we use on a daily basis, all are made by companies that were started by entrepreneurs with an idea to solve a problem or make life a little easier. And guess what? Some of these entrepreneurs are African American.

 Here are a three black-owned companies that make common household products that we use every day:

#1 – Toilet Paper

Freedom Paper Company – headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, this Black-owned manufacturer and distributor produces economical bathroom tissue for both residential and commercial use. Privately owned and founded by CEO Kamose Muhammad, they also produce economical paper towels, paper products and dispensers.

#2 – Mouthwash

Garner’s Garden – Based in Fort Washington, MD, this Black-owned company makes 100 percent all natural body care products, including mouthwash and lip balm, organic hand soap and body wash, hand and foot creams, hair care products, and facial cleansers and oils. Their extensive product line can be ordered online.

#3 – Laundry Detergent

The True Products – Based in Atlanta, Georgia-based, this company is owned by 3 African American founders who are all experienced entrepreneurs. Their unique, eco-friendly laundry detergent can be purchased online or through distributors located across Georgia and several other states.

Johnson & Johnson Reportedly Pushed Talcum Powder on Black Women After White Women Cease Use Due to Cancer Risk



For most women, it’s a normal part of their hygienic routine to sprinkle a little baby powder on themselves or in their underwear. The self-care practice is a normal one, specifically for women in the African-American community.

A St. Louis woman named Jacqueline Fox did so for over 40 years, dusting the lining of her panties with talcum powder each morning. It wasn’t until 2013 that she was diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian cancer and learned that the baby powder she had been using for so long might be to blame, reports. Fox lost her battle with the disease in October 2015.

Now, the New Jersey-based company Johnson & Johnson is embroiled in a number of lawsuits claiming their baby powder products, made with talcum powder, cause cancer. According to Rolling Out, about 20 recent medical studies have found a connection between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer.

The company lost its second lawsuit on May 2, 2016 for the death of another Black woman named Gloria Ristesund. In that case, the jury awarded $5 million in damages and $50 million in punitive damages, Rolling Out reports. Fox was the first plaintiff to be compensated for damages however, according to Following her death, a St. Louis jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to award her family $72 million.

The company plans to appeal the latest ruling.

“Unfortunately, the jury’s decision goes against 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc,” Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement.

Thousands of other women have followed suit, suing the company for selling a product that would ultimately cause them to develop cancer. The Washington Post reports that Johnson & Johnson currently faces at least 1,200 pending talcum powder lawsuits, which includes around 1,000 in St. Louis and another 200 in New Jersey.

Goodrich disputes the claims and says that Johnson & Johnson has provided consumers with “a safe choice for cosmetic powder products” for the last 100 years.

Jim Onder, the attorney who represented Ristesund in her lawsuit, disagrees, however. Onder says that researchers first linked talcum powder and ovarian cancer in the 1970s and cites internal documents from Johnson & Johnson that show the company was familiar with those studies.

“The evidence is real clear that Johnson & Johnson has known about the dangers associated with talcum powder for over 30 years,” Onder said. “Instead of giving a warning, what they did was target the groups most at risk for developing ovarian cancer.”

On top of knowingly selling a carcinogenic product, the company is accused of marketing the powder to African-American women, encouraging them to purchase the product after use by their white counterparts dropped due to the risk of developing cancer.

In her article written for Time, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley suggests that Johnson & Johnson, along with other cosmetic companies, are guilty of profiting from the “myths of the excessive black vagina.”

“They’re willing to capitalize on our internalized misogynoir even if we die in the process,” Tinsley wrote.

Her article also states that African-American women douche and deodorize their genitals twice as much as white women, according to research conducted by Francesca Branch, Tracey J. Woodruff, Susanna D. Mitro and Ami R. Zota. Many of those products also contain human carcinogen and are linked to other health risks not visibly listed on labels.

An Atlanta lawyer is now making efforts to stop the unfortunate trend of Black women dying from cancer caused by the use of baby powder. Mawuli Mel Davis and his firm, Davis-Bozeman, are spearheading the initiative to inform African-American women in Georgia about the risks of using talcum powder and the possible legal action they could take against companies like Johnson & Johnson, Rolling Out reports. Davis calls the company’s plan to target Black women a “Corporate Tuskegee Experiment.”

Davis also revealed that his firm has recently taken up the case of a 34-year-old Georgia woman who died from ovarian cancer in 2015. While his team investigates the case, Davis says he wants to continue making women aware of the dangers of talcum powder.

“We say, ‘Don’t Wait! Stop Now!,’ ” he said. “We are calling on sororities, women’s health organizations and all activists to take part in this health movement. We must get the word out: remove this product from your home!”

Health Risks Linked To Black Hair Products

A new five-year study into Black women’s hair products has found that a significant number contain ingredients that can increase the risk of miscarriage, uterine fibroids, cancers and respiratory problems.

The report, called Natural Evolutions – One Hair Story was produced by Los Angeles based not-for-profit organisation Black Women for Wellness (BWWLA) and was compiled by collecting health data, specialist reports, conducting focus groups of Black women who used hair products as well as interviews with product manufacturers and over 100 hair salon professionals.

Nourbese Flint and Teniope Adewumi – co-authors of Natural Evolutions – One Hair Story said they decided to compile the report because of the seeming lack of knowledge and research about the potential health risks of using hair products aimed at Black women in the US, the UK, Caribbean and parts of Africa.

Among some of the key concerns found by the report were the presence of chemicals such as formaldehyde, used in many hair straightening products, ammonia, which is used in hair dyes and bleaching agents all of which have been known to cause breathing difficulties and occupational asthma.


The report also cites research published in the International Journal of Cancer that deep-coloured dyes used over long periods are thought to increase the risk of both non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and multiple myeloma and also increase the risk of bladder cancer.

Other research included in the report is a recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology which showed that the use of hair relaxers is linked to the incidence of uterine fibroids in Black women and girls.

The BWWLA report lists over 40 products most commonly used by hair care professionals, which feature a hazard rating given by Skin Deep, an online database created by non-profit organisation Environmental Working Group. The products listed range from those that are chemically synthesised to raw natural products.

Among them are popular products such as Luster’s Pink, Tigi Bed Head Self Absorbed Mega Nutrient Shampoo, and Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Sheen Spray.

Adewuni told reporters: “Though many of the salon workers we interviewed had gone to cosmetology school, very few had learned about the negative impacts that chemicals in products could have on their health. There is a great need to have products that Black people use assessed for health impacts.”

She added: “We believe that the onus should not be on consumers and workers to have figure out what is safe or not. Toxic personal care and cosmetic products should not be in on the shelves.”

Market research firm Mintel estimated the size of the Black haircare market in the US at $946 million in 2015. The market figure for the UK is harder to pin down, but according to some estimates African Caribbean women spend up to six times more on hair and beauty products than women of other ethnicities.


Yet the report found that products marketed at this group are the least tested of all hair and beauty products.


South-east London based Sandra Pinnock-Brown, sales & marketing director of Hair Everlasting Wholesale Hair Manufacture and distributor of Xsandy’s Brand said she was not surprised by the report’s findings.

She said: “The attitude of some manufacturers appears to be that they can sell anything to Black women and they will buy it. A more robust testing regime would cost more but they appear reluctant to incur greater expenses for this customer group.”

Rachael Corson, CEO and co-founding director of ethically-sourced haircare brand Afrocenchix , also based in London, agreed.

She said: “Sadly, those who gain financially from filling shelves with cheap chemicals promising beautiful, shiny hair are unconcerned with the health risks. They are not made by the Black women who use such products themselves.”

According to Irene Shelley, editor of Black Beauty & Hair magazine, lack of willingness and possibly funds on the part of manufacturers and retailers to conduct research are likely reasons for the continued availability of harmful products in the market.

“We read stories about Black women who have ended up in hospital on respirators because they had adverse reactions to products like hair dyes or hair glues,” she said.

Shelley added that more women are now talking about their experiences, and boosting knowledge and awareness of natural haircare.

“Black Beauty & Hair has a natural hair section and we’ve found that the natural hair movement has made women look closely at the products that they are using on their skin and hair,” she said.


By: Kirsty Osei-Bempong

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