Date of Graduation

Summer 8-13-2021

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Lisa Catanzaro, MPH


Women of color are at a higher risk of exposure to toxic chemicals because of their use of more personal care products when compared to white women. A literature review was conducted focusing on mercury, a highly toxic heavy metal, found in some skin lightening creams used in Latinx, Black, and Southeast Asian communities to evaluate the impact of toxic chemicals used in communities of color. The use of skin lightening products is associated with the perception of beauty and social advantage. Further, women of color regardless of educational attainment experience the same social pressures to lighten their skin. This paper analyzes existing and pending federal and state of California legislation to propose policy alternatives using Bardach’s Eightfold Path for policy analysis. The goal of using a policy approach is to provide a path forward for U.S. cosmetic policy reform and ultimately to protect consumers from the harmful effects of contaminants, like mercury in skin creams. Policy alternatives were evaluated using the following criteria: consumer safety, political feasibility, and implementability. The paper recommends a policy approach that expands the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authority to include enforcement against counterfeit cosmetic products and adds a U.S. cosmetic facility registration process to complement existing community health education efforts. This policy recommendation would further help ensure an industry-wide standard for cosmetic products offered for sale in the United States and help create healthy environments across diverse communities.