Chemicals in body decrease after swapping products

Researchers report drop in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals

Switching make-up brands could have a huge impact on the levels of chemicals found in consumer's bodies, according to new research.

The study, led by scientists at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas, observed that teenage girls saw a significant drop in levels of potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals after a few days of using different beauty products.

Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the study observed 100 Latina teenagers who agreed to use personal care products labeled free from ingredients including phthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone for three days. These ingredients have previously been shown to disrupt the body’s endocrine system in animal studies.

Lead study author and Associate Directory of UC Berkeley Centre for Environmental Research and Children’s Health, Kim Harley, explained: “Because women are the primary consumers of many personal care products, they may be disproportionately exposed to these chemicals. 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.”

The participants provided urine samples before and after the three-day trial. The participants who used the lower-chemical products were found to have significant drops in the number of the identified chemicals after the trial.

Metabolites of diethyl phthalate decreased by 27% over the trial, while methyl and propyl parabens dropped 44% and 45% respectively. Triclosan, found in antibacterial soaps, and benzophenone 3 both fell 36%.

Two less common parabens saw an increase in concentrations over the trial, although overall levels remained low. The researchers suggested that this could have been caused by accidental contamination or by a substitution not listed on the labels.

Harley concluded: “We know enough to be concerned about teen girls’ exposure to these chemicals. Sometimes it’s worth taking a precautionary approach, especially if there are easy changes people can make in the products they buy.”

The participating teenagers were all part of the Health and Environmental Research on Make-up Salinas Adolescents project – a collaborative work between UC Berkeley, Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas and a group of researchers from the CHAMACOS Youth Council.

The research was supported by The California Breast Cancer Research Program at the University of California.