Chryso’s Beauty Buys: Study reports decrease in harmful chemicals after teens switch cosmetics by Chryso D'Angelo, March 22 2016, 0 Comments

One hundred teen girls in California switched cosmetics for three days and saw a significant drop in potentially hazardous chemicals in their bodies, according to a new study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas.

The Health and Environmental Research on Makeup of Salinas Adolescents (HERMOSA) study also involved 12 local high school students from The CHAMACOS Youth Council. The goal was to get young people involved in public health and the environment.

Participants were given personal care products that did not contain four hormone-disrupting chemicals, which have been shown in animal studies to interfere with the body’s endocrine system:

  • Phthalates - chemical used to soften plastics, found in nail polish and products that contain a "fragrance" 
  • Parabens - a preservative found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, cleansers and scrubs
  • Triclosan - an antibacterial agent found in soaps, toothpastes, shaving products and color cosmetics
  • Oxybenzone - chemical used in some sunscreens

Teenage girls were asked to take part in the study since they are at an even higher risk of harm than adult women. 

“Teen girls may be at particular risk since it’s a time of rapid reproductive development, and research has suggested that they use more personal care products per day than the average adult woman,” said study lead author Kim Harley, associate director of the UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health.

Analysis of urine samples before and after the three day trial resulted in a 27-45 percent drop in the levels of these chemicals in the body.

The breakdown:

  • Metabolites of diethyl phthalate, commonly used in fragrances, decreased 27 percent by the end of the trial period
  • Methyl and propyl parabens dropped 44 and 45 percent respectively
  • Both triclosan and oxybenzone fell 36 percent

Kimberly Parra, study co-director, said it was important to involve local youth in the design and implementation of the study.

“Engaging youth to learn about science and how it can be used to improve the health of their communities [is important],” said Parra. “After learning of the results, the youth took it upon themselves to educate friends and community members, and presented their cause to legislatures in Sacramento.”

“One of the goals of our study was to create awareness among the participants of the chemicals found in everyday products, to help make people more conscious about what they’re using,” said teen researcher Maritza Cardenas. 

“Seeing the drop in chemical levels after just three days shows that simple actions can be taken, such as choosing products with fewer chemicals, and make a difference,” said Cárdenas.

Cárdenas said the research findings have already influenced the products she buys for herself.

Editor's Note: At EcoPlum, we strive to offer personal care products free of harmful chemicals. Check out our Web site for our full range of safe cosmetics.