Beauty Inside Out

Big News: Mercury to be Phased Out of Cosmetics by 2025

Dr. Micaela Martinez was in Geneva for the Minamata Convention on Mercury, hosted by the United Nations, where she helped successfully advocate for the adoption of a treaty that will phase-out mercury from cosmetics by 2025. As you may recall, we successfully banned mercury – a dangerous neurotoxin found in many skin lighteners – from cosmetics in New York State, but this global ban will help reduce the prevalence of cosmetics containing mercury that still find their way onto our store shelves from overseas as well as being sold online. You can read the press release here. And you can also read the report on the online marketing of skin lighteners here.



You can read the paper published in Environmental Justice or read the articles in Environmental Health News and New York Amsterdam News to see the results of our adult survey on the use of and attitudes towards chemical hair relaxers and skin lighteners among women and femme-identifying people of color in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. The findings from our adult survey compiled by Dr. Lariah Edwards, Environmental Health Scientist at Environmental Defense Fund and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Watch Our Webinar, Colorism in the Beauty Industry: How the Manufacture & Marketing of Cosmetics is Poisoning People of Color

Download the Beauty Inside Out Adult Survey Fact Sheet (PDF)



If you are interested in getting involved in the work we’re doing regarding toxics in beauty and other personal care products, we encourage you to join our Beauty Inside Out Working Group. We meet bi-monthly at 5:00 PM on Wednesdays. Click here to learn more and get involved!



Personal care products are largely unregulated and many of the items you use every day contain toxic chemicals. Everyone is at risk, but women of color face the greatest exposure from the products that are marketed to them.

To ensure our community is aware of the risks posed by the chemicals commonly found in these products, WE ACT has partnered with Columbia’s NIEHS Center for Environmental Health and the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health to bring you a community briefing on cosmetics and other personal care products.

Our goal is to raise awareness of the serious health hazards people face when using these products as well as to provide suggestions on how you can minimize those risks.

Want to learn more about our Beauty Inside Out Campaign? Sign Up Here

You can also download are Beauty Inside Out educational booklet in English or Spanish (PDF).

Toxics are a Drag: A Panel Discussion on Toxic Beauty Products in the Queer Community
On June 29, 2021, in celebration of Pride month, and as part of our Uptown Chats speaker series, WE ACT hosted Toxics are a Drag, an online panel of researchers, advocates, and queer drag performers discussing the toxic chemicals found in beauty and other personal care products and their impact on the queer community. Moderated by Taylor Morton, WE ACT’s Director of Environmental Health and Education, the panel included: Jahlove Serrano, a health educator, AIDS activist and youth advocate, background dancer, choreographer, androgynous model, and drag queen; King Ivy, a healer, spiritualist, creator, image consultant, and drag queen; Roqué, the Dominican-American diva; and Dr. Ami Zota, an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health.

Virtual Congressional Briefing on Health Impacts of Toxic Personal Care Products and Cosmetics
The $220 billion cosmetics industry can and does use toxic chemicals linked to serious health harm in the beauty, hair and personal care products we bring into our homes and workplaces daily. These chemical exposures have been linked to cancer, infertility, miscarriage, poor infant and maternal health outcomes, birth defects, learning disabilities, obesity, asthma, and many other serious health concerns. Everyone is at risk, but women and girls of color face the greatest exposure from the beauty products that are marketed to them.

On March 26, 2020, WE ACT conducted an online congressional briefing on the health impacts of toxic personal care products and cosmetics on women and girls of color. Participants learned about the toxic chemicals in products marketed to communities of color, how businesses are responding and the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019—the only federal cosmetic safety legislation that would immediately ban more than a dozen of the worst toxic chemicals from cosmetics, fund research into safer alternatives, require full fragrance ingredient disclosure and address the over-exposure of communities of color to toxic chemicals in the toxic products marketed to them.

WE ACT’s Beauty Inside Out online congressional briefing on Mar. 26, 2020.


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