Environmental Justice

Black Women for Wellness Environmental Justice Program

Sisters in Control Environmental Justice Program and the Healthy Hair Initiative surveys stylists and salon workers in Inglewood and South Los Angeles to show that hair stylists suffer from higher risks of certain kinds of:

  • Cancer
  • Immune disorders
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Miscarriages

Watch our Stylin Safely: A Webinar Series »


Environmental Justice 2015 Highlights Include:


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√ Curls and Conversation

This year we launched our newest sister circle called Curls and Conversations (w/ coffee or cocktails). This space allows consumers, hair care professionals, and advocates to talk openly about the Black beauty industry. Our first Curls and Convo was held in August and we had a great chance to hear from two business women who not only create their own products but are advocates for safer products marketed to the Black community. Our next Curls and Convo was a stylist part where we five women interested in hair attend. During everyone had a chance to tell their hair story, sip on some wine, and grab samples from Inspired Beauty and Curls. Our next Curls and Convo will be held in January. We look forward to keeping the conversation about Black beauty, hair, and safe salons going!

√  EJ Report Highlights
Natural Revolution: One Hair Story
The Black hair and beauty industry is more than simply big business; it’s multilayered, complex and touches every aspect in the lives of Black women & girls. It defines our cultural identity, contributes to our self-esteem (or lack thereof), allows for self-expression, tracks family history, provides an economic base, connects us to Black women across the globe and it has deep, deep historical roots. However, little is known about the connection between the beauty products we use and the health status of Black women, neither as consumers nor as beauty industry professionals. Natural Evolutions: One Hair Story is a compilation of our work in an effort to provide insights into the culture, conversations and research surrounding Black women’s hair, the beauty industry, and the subsequent effect on Black women’s health.

Download the report here »

√ Research Highlights

  • Greener/chemical free/organic products are not easily accessible in South Los Angeles.
  • Active shopping is necessary and time consuming and it is difficult to find alternative/safer products.
  • Hair care professionals are both curious and concerned about the chemicals in the products they utilize regularly. Hair care professionals want to know more about the health impacts for both themselves and customers.
  • “After 20 years in the beauty industry, my friends have no fingerprints, they literally cannot go to the DMV, put their hands down and have a scan.” Quote from a focus group participant on the long-term effects of being in the beauty industry.
  • Occupational workplace exposures include chemical, ergonomic and reproductive hazards plus respiratory irritants.
  • Salon workers’ reproductive health challenges include uterine fibroids and miscarriages.
  • Stylists indicated interest in learning more about healthier workplaces and meeting with other workers or owners to talk about safer salons.

For more our research pick up a copy of our report Natural Evolutions: One Hair Story.

√ Results from Survey (inglewood survey)
As part of our Healthy Hair Initiative—Stylin Safely we are working towards the creation of a Healthy Salon Recognition program. Our first step was to see if consumers would be interested in going to and spending money at a salon recognized by the program. Black women were the majority of survey participants. We have collected over 300 surveys and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.

  • 91.1% of respondents said ‘yes’ they had gotten a service performed at a hair salon before.
  • 68% of respondents said they would much more likely obtain their services from salons that made the switch to become a “Healthy Hair Salon” by using more healthy and safe products and practices and was formally recognized by a city or county agency.
  • 34.8% of respondents said they would pay $10-15 more for hair services if the products used were less toxic to workers and customers. 27.5%would pay $15 or more.
  • 85% of respondents would support a city or county program that worked with salons to become a “Healthy Hair Salon” and use more healthy and safe practices.

The results are great indicators of consumer approval of such a recognition program. The next steps in the creating the program is working with workers, advocates, and elected officials to develop a pilot program.

√ CHANGE Lobby Day
Black Women for Wellness took five of our community members to Sacramento to talk directly with our elected officials about how important toxic chemicals are to our health. Bills such as AB 708 a bill under CHANGE/BWW’s Right to Know campaign, would make cleaning companies list the top ingredients in their products and AB 763 for disclosure of toxic flame retardants in children’s clothing.


Environmental Justice Press Releases:

Exposed to the Elements – UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Spring 2015

The Price of Nice Hair & Hair Salon Workers Face Serious Health Risks – HuffPost Live Interview, May 2015

The Health Risks to Consider Every Time You Walk in the Hair Salon – Pop Sugar, May 27 2015

It’s Not Just Nail Salons. Hairstylists Face Serious Health Problems, Too – Huffington Post, May 22, 2015

Hairstylists Have to Pay a Terrifying Price to Do Your Hair – Cosmopolitan, May 26, 2015

The Price Of Nice Hair – Think Progress, May 21, 2015


BWW Event Calendar