Chemicals in Beauty Products Can Pose Particular Risk to Teens, Study Says

"Changes in development during those time periods don't just have effects right at that time, but they can even have effects later in life"

Many teenagers use a ton of beauty products. And researchers say they're among the most vulnerable when it comes to exposure to certain chemicals. That's because their bodies are still developing.

The science isn't entirely clear, but some experts recommend that parents do their homework when it comes to potential risks for their kids.

News4 had 16-year-old Cinta Hidayat of Haymarket, Virginia, add up how many products she uses a day. Considering face wash, perfume, eye shadow, setting powder and a lot more, she counted 26.

"I didn't think it was that much," she said.

Cinta is not alone. Research has shown that teens use an average of 17 personal care products a day.

Some experts worry about the potential health risks.

Dr. Anna Pollack, an associate professor and researcher at George Mason University, recommended that teens limit their exposure to some chemicals.

"Changes in development during those time periods don't just have effects right at that time, but they can even have effects later in life. And so for that reason, we really want to minimize exposure during those critical windows of time," she said.

A study by the university, published in the journal Environment International, found chemicals from everyday beauty products are absorbed into our bodies and can lead to changes in reproductive hormones like estrogen.

"Higher levels of estrogen are concerning because estrogen itself is a risk factor for several chronic diseases like breast cancer, and also cardiovascular disease," Pollack said.

The sample size was small, focusing on 143 healthy adult women between 18 and 44 years old. The women were chosen because they were considered low-risk, without health conditions.

Although more studies are needed to confirm the findings, Pollack said her research underscores the importance of limiting the amount of products we use on children and teens, because they're more vulnerable than adults.

Maryland toxicologist Hans Plugge said the levels of chemicals in products we use are small and therefore safe. But he said no one really knows the long-term effects of cumulative exposure.

"One of the problems is it's impossible to do the experiment that would be perfect," he said. "Anything like that would require tens of thousands of people to get the right level of sensitivity."

Jay Ansell, vice president of the Personal Care Products Council, said that even among experts, there's the possibility of differing opinions.

Ansell represents the leading national trade association representing personal care products. He said safety is their top priority, and that companies make changes as the science evolves and consumer demands change.

"Our members take these reports very seriously, and we do conduct reviews of all the research as it comes out," he said.

As for Cinta, despite what she’s learned, she's not tossing out her makeup.

"I know there's bad stuff in there. I kind of overlook that and buy it anyways," she said.

Contact Us