Type of Work
Cosmetic products in the United States are unregulated and oftentimes toxic. It is well established that the threats that cosmetics pose disproportionately harm women and women of color. However, when the hazards of the cosmetic industry have been analyzed, the relationship between toxic exposure and financial means has been largely omitted. In this study I evaluate the link between poverty and toxic burden through cosmetic products through literature review and a data analysis of pre-existing online databases. Through the use of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Red List and the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, I investigate whether cosmetic products that are more expensive are less toxic than less expensive products. Products that are more expensive are less likely to be purchased by poor individuals due to their financial constraints. Products that were categorized as low hazard were found to be, on average, 72.86% more expensive than products that were categorized as high hazard. This price difference presents a clear financial barrier for low-income individuals attempting to purchase less toxic cosmetic products. Further, due to the intersectionality of class, race, and gender affecting toxic exposure through personal care products, poor women of color are at the greatest risk for elevated levels of toxic exposure.
Hamilton Areas of Study
Hamilton Sponsoring Organization
Levitt Public Affairs Center
Hamilton Scholarship Series
Levitt Summer Research Fellowship
Hamilton Faculty Advisor