As a Black woman that loves beauty products, I have seen all kinds of words come and go to describe flawless hair and makeup. “On Fleek”, “Laid”, “On point”…the list can go on and on! However, there is one word I hesitate to use. The word: beat.
Now, I am not going to get into the history of how “beat” became a thing, but I am going to get into why that word leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Recently, I attended and participated in an event for domestic violence victims. As part of this event, one woman was going to get a makeover. Once she was revealed, she looked completely different! However, in the excitement of seeing her, many women there shouted, “she beat your face!” Now, I know those women were telling her she looks great and they were SO happy for her, but some of them took a step back and realized what they just stated. That they just used the word “beat” in front of domestic violence victims. They quickly corrected themselves, apologized, and moved on. After the event, we had a lengthy discussion about using “beat”, for it can be a trigger word for some of the women.
Now, I know everyone has not faced abuse and the word “beat” isn’t a strong word, but with the statistic of Black women experiencing domestic violence is 35% higher than White women, I hesitate using “beat” when I see other Black women with flawless makeup. Not only is domestic violence a serious and underrated issue within the Black community, I also hesitate to use “beat” for much of recent Black history, we have been faced with actions that can only be described as atrocious. Senseless beatings, lynchings, and brutality has been directed towards Black and Brown people, so I refuse to use a negative verb to replace a positive adjective.
So challenge people not to use “beat”, especially now being Domestic Violence Month. Support women with positive adjectives! If you need help, GOOGLE is a powerful tool!
Makeup no doubt is still a controversial topic. The debate still rages on whether wearing makeup is “false advertising” or a tool for self-empowerment. Personally speaking, I wear makeup as a form of self-improvement. I enjoy sitting down every day and applying color to my face to enhance my appearance. Yes, I do wear makeup to cover-up my dark spots from puberty, but as far as my personality goes, I am still the same person I was before without makeup. However, that is me. Everyone has their reasons to wear or not to wear cosmetics.
For Alicia Keys, she has made the choice to stop wearing makeup and created something beautiful for herself and others. Photographed for the FAULT Magazine, Alicia Keys is quoted saying she is “learning to try and let go of the word “perfection””. Letting go of perfection has given Ms. Keys the idea to revamp the #NoMakeUp movement by writing a letter voicing her new found freedom.
Check out Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and you will see the hundreds of women and men putting down their brushes and embracing their natural features.
While, you are going to go au naturale for a hour or your whole life–remember you are a beautiful and amazing person. Keep being you.
I remember hearing this term when going up EVERYWHERE: Black Don’t Crack! From the beauty salon to family gatherings, “Black Don’t Crack” is a saying praising older Women and Men of Color who kept their youthful appearance. While many see it as a playful phrase, some are looking more into it from a scientific point of view. Does having melanated skin have a benefit in the aging race?
The Definition of Melanin
Melanin simply is a pigment that gives the skin, hair, and eyes their color. Obviously, individuals with darker skin, hair, or eyes have more melanin than individuals with lighter complexions or features.
Melanin is produced when melanocytes are simulated by the Sun’s UV rays. These melanocytes are than put into overdrive to produce more melanin to protect the skin from sun damage. AMAZING, RIGHT?!?!
Now, everyone can produce more melanin (yes, darker-skinned individuals can get darker!), but what makes individuals with tan to deeper complexions are the build-in sun shields we have. Through evolution, the melanin within my skin wouldn’t fade completely. I do get slightly darker in the summer, but once winter comes around it is not a huge difference in shades. So what does melanin have to do with aging?
Melanin and Aging
While the Sun keeps life on Earth going, it does produce two different rays: UVA and UVB. These rays are radiation. For everyone new to that term, it is the not the best for life if exposure to it for a long period of time. Radiation like UVA and UVB, can damage cells at a molecular level. Wrinkles and dark spots are just a few affects long, non-protected Sun exposure can do the skin. This is why melanin is important; it is protection. If individuals have a higher level of melanin, chances of wrinkles and dark spots forming are lower than those who do not have the correct protection.
With that said, I do still wear sunscreen on my exposed body parts for extra protection but the SPF is much lower than what a person with a lighter complexion might need.
Does Black Not Crack?
Depends. If you eat well, exercise, drink plenty of water, practice good mental health, and wear some form of sun protection–you best believe Black will not crack. However, genes, poor diet, stress, and other factors can speed up the aging process. This can happen to anyone! But having melanated skin most definitely does have an advantage. So to all the Brown and Black ladies and gentlemen out there–take care of yourself and you will looking young for a very long time!
Long-name ingredients are not new in the cosmetic world. But if you have noticed “Paraben-Free” on your beauty products, those products are avoiding using:
So why are these ingredients being shunned while other ingredients are not?
What are Parabens?
Before the 1950s, formaldehyde was the most popular preserving agent around. Used in foods, beauty products, and other goods, formaldehyde kept nasty bacteria and fungi away. However, around the 1950s, chemists introduced a new group of chemicals called parabens. Cheap and more effective, food and drug companies began using them. It was not long that beauty companies started adding parabens to their products for safety and profit benefits. Decades later, about 85% of all cosmetics have at least one or more of these parabens.
Why the concern?
While it seems parabens are safe, the concern behind them started in the 1990s. Researchers labelled parabens as xenoestrogens―agents that mimic estrogen in the body. These “Estrogen disruptors” has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues in both male and female bodies. The major blow to the paraben name happened in 2004, when a British scientist found parabens in breast cancer tissues. As a result, many countries began limiting the amount of parabens in products.
However, there are critics to these studies. Many have started just because parabens are present in the tissues of cancer patients does not mean parabens CAUSE breast cancer. Since there are mix reviews about parabens, both the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration and the World Health Organization consider parabens to be safe at low levels.
What you can do?
When it comes to parabens, the information is out there to make a wise decision. Personally, I do not buy products with parabens. I find products without them last just as long as products with them. That is my personal decision, but I do hope you conduct your own research to come to yours.
Luckily, many companies that are cruelty-free and vegan usually do not add parabens. A quick reading of the ingredients is always wise though! I do believe with the Green Movement growing, parabens will eventually fade away.
The saying “practice makes perfect” can be (and should be!) said when applying your makeup. Remember, it takes time to master. Even professional makeup artists can make mistakes. However, they live and learn. You should as well! I make mistakes all the time. But I try again and again until I find a method or product that works for ME.
I know most women, particularly Black women, have naturally dark brown to black hair. So why not reach for that black eyebrow pencil? Don’t do it! Black eyebrow pencils are just too harsh looking. Instead, get a pencil that is brown for a more natural-looking eyebrow.
Wrong color! We all have been there. What Black women struggle with is finding the right foundation shade. Many usually use two shades to blend to create an even skintone. But like I said before, you have to understand your skin. Skintone and undertone must be considered to find the right color. However, this can be expanded to choosing wrong lip color or blush. Usually it is choosing colors that are too light. Again, understand your skintone and undertone to avoid looking washed out or older.
A Little Goes a Long Way
This isn’t a “Black woman” thing but might as well add it here. A little goes a long way. You are naturally beautiful and cosmetics, in my opinion, should be use to bring out your confidence. So heavy, cakey makeup will only make you look older and cover-up the external beauty you have.
As most of you know, our skin is the largest organ we have. With that said, it is important to remember like other organs, our skin absorbs any product we place on ourselves. While some chemicals are harmless and do great things for us, many companies use nasty ingredients.
This list can seem very long. But it is important to read labels and avoid these ingredients for the greater good. If this seems overwhelming– do more research about your favorite products and replace any cosmetics that aren’t the best for you, slowly. Check out my ever growing list of vegan, organic, or cruelty-free companies or a google search can work too! 🙂
BHA and BHT: Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
Coal Tar: A known carcinogen banned in the EU, but still used in North America. Used in dry skin treatments, anti-lice and anti-dandruff shampoos, also listed as a colour plus number, i.e. FD&C Red No. 6.
DEA/TEA/MEA: Suspected carcinogens used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for shampoos, body washes, soaps.
Ethoxylated surfactants and 1,4-dioxane: Never listed because it’s a by-product made from adding carcinogenic ethylene oxide to make other chemicals less harsh. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found 1,4-dioxane in 57 percent of baby washes in the U.S. Avoid any ingredients containing the letters “eth.”
Formaldehyde: Probable carcinogen and irritant found in nail products, hair dye, fake eyelash adhesives, shampoos. Banned in the EU.
Fragrance/Parfum: A catchall for hidden chemicals, such as phthalates. Fragrance is connected to headaches, dizziness, asthma, and allergies.
Hydroquinone: Used for lightening skin. Banned in the UK, rated most toxic on the EWG’s Skin Deep database, and linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity.
Lead: Known carcinogen found in lipstick and hair dye, but never listed because it’s a contaminant, not an ingredient.
Mercury: Known allergen that impairs brain development. Found in mascara and some eyedrops.
Mineral oil: By-product of petroleum that’s used in baby oil, moisturizers, styling gels. It creates a film that impairs the skin’s ability to release toxins.
Oxybenzone: Active ingredient in chemical sunscreens that accumulates in fatty tissues and is linked to allergies, hormone disruption, cellular damage, low birth weight.
Parabens: Used as preservatives, found in many products. Linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity.
Paraphenylenediamine (PPD): Used in hair products and dyes, but toxic to skin and immune system.
Phthalates: Plasticizers banned in the EU and California in children’s toys, but present in many fragrances, perfumes, deodorants, lotions. Linked to endocrine disruption, liver/kidney/lung damage, cancer.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG): Penetration enhancer used in many products, it’s often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, both known carcinogens.
Silicone-derived emollients: Used to make a product feel soft, these don’t biodegrade, and also prevent skin from breathing. Linked to tumour growth and skin irritation.
Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate (SLS, SLES): A former industrial degreaser now used to make soap foamy, it’s absorbed into the body and irritates skin.
Talc: Similar to asbestos in composition, it’s found in baby powder, eye shadow, blush, deodorant. Linked to ovarian cancer and respiratory problems.
Toluene: Known to disrupt the immune and endocrine systems, and fetal development, it’s used in nail and hair products. Often hidden under fragrance.
Triclosan: Found in antibacterial products, hand sanitizers, and deodorants, it is linked to cancer and endocrine disruption. Avoid the brand Microban.
As a Black, 25 year old woman growing up in the United States, I can safely say I have experienced all kinds of rude comments and ignorance from all kinds of people. But what makes these comments so hurtful is the fact they are directed towards both my race AND my sex. Because I am both Black and a woman, I have to fight a battle from two fronts. Not only is it exhausting to keep a smile on my face while being hit with harsh words, but it makes me question my external beauty. Laid out from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they explain what the Black Feminism movement is.
Black Feminist Movement grew out of, and in response to, the Black
Liberation Movement and the Women’s Movement. In an effort to meet the
needs of black women who felt they were being racially oppressed in
the Women’s Movement and sexually oppressed in the Black Liberation
Movement, the Black Feminist Movement was formed.
What this has to do with cosmetics can be linked with the low representation of Black women in magazines and the runway. Women, like myself, are left in the background to figure out what makeup and fashion style work for us. To make matter worst is though these numbers are very real, many designers, makeup artists, and editors still hire white models to represent Black women. As seen the image below, model Ondria Hardin (16 at the time in 2013) posed for Italian magazine Numéro as an “African Queen”. While she is absolutely beautiful–the darkening of her skin using darker makeup to fit the role of an African woman, offends many like myself. This spread speaks volumes. It is saying “white” features are more desired. I am not opposed to her posing for the magainze. I understand there are whites who are born and live in Africa and I understand whites can wear African traditional wear in respect, but the fact the photographer could have hired a Black or African model instead if she/he wanted a darker model to begin with. The magazine apologized but I do hope this is a reminder how Black Feminism is important. Women of Color from all walks of life need to represented in any outlet–that includes in the fashion and cosmetics world.