Pretty on Purpose with a purpose

Pretty on Purpose
Photo courtesy: @weareprettyonpurpose Instagram

Pretty on Purpose, a relatively new organization on Florida A&M University’s campus is devoted to empowering Black women while fostering a culture of self-love and wellness.

Pretty On Purpose was founded on Sept. 12, 2023, which exposes holistic and sustainable beauty products to Black women and girls to introduce safe and natural beauty products through hands-on activities. A collegiate team runs it, and the Rattler chapter ensures everything runs smoothly.

Karen Peters, a professor at FAMU and POP’s faculty adviser, shared the organization’s mission and purpose.

“Black women and girls spend over $7 billion on beauty care products yearly. Most of the products that target us are made with the harshest, most toxic, and even banned ingredients on the market,” Peters said. “These ingredients are known to cause a variety of issues from hair loss to reproductive inhibition and even cancer. POP decided to do something about this.”

According to, an analysis of ingredients in 1,777 personal care and beauty products marketed to Black women resulted in about one in 12 products being ranked highly hazardous, according to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database scoring system. It was also reported that in the categories of hair relaxers, dyes, bleaching products, and make-up products, none were scored as “low hazard.”

Peters said that her inspiration for creating the organization stemmed from witnessing Cameroonian villagers create their products.

“Through a partnership between FAMU, Howard University, and NIH, I was selected to participate in an internship in Cameroon, Africa. When I returned to the States, I began researching how to make my products,” Peters said. “It was then that I learned how toxic the beauty market is, particularly toward Black women. I had a few successful product lines, but my heart was always in the classroom, so I began teaching girls what I learned.”

Nadia Buggs, a fourth-year actuarial science student and member of POP, said the organization aims to promote self-confidence and self-love in Black women and girls.

“I feel like Black girls see the ‘glamour’ that some famous Black women in the industry portray, and it heavily influences their purchases, attitudes, interest, and self-care to follow trends,” Buggs said. “POP diverts Black girls’ and women’s attention to a more natural way of living, finding beauty within our femininity and creating power and fulfillment through creating. The opportunity to learn how to create your beauty products is self-empowering; you feel confident that the things you put in or on your body are safe. This establishes a foundation of self-love that will continue to grow.”

A recent project that the organization has done this year was a pheromone fundraiser, which Buggs said was her favorite one.

“I loved mixing and creating scents that we believed the FAMU campus would love and invest in,” Buggs said. “Being able to share our work and values of our org to collegiate men and women was beautiful.”

From Orlando to Atlanta, Pretty on Purpose has hosted many past events and workshops catered to thousands of young Black women and girls at absolutely no cost to them. The organization aims to instill confidence and self-esteem among young girls and women in the Black community, even if that means telling the hard truths.

“The truth is, no one wants to hear that their Got2B, or their favorite perfume, lotion, or deodorant might be setting the stage for permanent hair loss, reproductive disruption, allergies, or other issues,” Peters said. “POP has to be up for the smoke that comes with saying this to ourselves and others and taking the road less traveled. Instead of buying the latest, toxic brands, we make our own.”

Aiyanna Nixon, a first-year psychology student and POP E-board member says education and awareness are important when Black women and girls make beauty product choices.

“Education plays a big part because many of us young ladies are unaware of all the chemicals in the products we frequently use. On the other hand, even if we know what is in the products, we aren’t aware of how to substitute it,” Nixon said. “I feel that education and awareness play a big part in teaching us and informing us of the harms of certain chemicals and good natural substitutes that will still provide the same effects.”

Pretty on Purpose plans to host a POP week in April, their spring showcase, where the organization will invite the campus to come and learn more about them.

Peters gave empowering advice to Black women: “Black women are born with the gift of creative resource. It is our responsibility to use it to move our communities forward, no one else’s. I advise young Black women to tap into themselves to learn how best to develop and share their research. The universe works in your favor.”