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Study looks at how many children are using makeup, body products with potentially toxic ingredients

Study looks at how many kids are using makeup, body products with potentially toxic ingredients
Posted at 4:21 PM, Feb 07, 2023

Do you know what’s in your child’s makeup and body products?

A new study looked at how many kids are using these products, which broadly include things like face paint, body glitter, hair gel, perfume and other products. Some of these products contain potentially toxic ingredients, according to experts.

“Seventy percent of parents indicated that their children who are 12 years or under use these children’s makeup and body products,” said Rashmi Joglekar, a staff scientist in the toxic exposure and health program at Earthjustice. “We know that these products contain harmful ingredients and toxic chemicals. These include carcinogenic heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and chromium, endocrine disruptors like phthalates and paraffins and PFAS, and other carcinogens like asbestos and formaldehyde.”

“These chemicals are linked to serious long-term health effects,” she added.

For example, a 2021 study done by researchers, including some from the University of Notre Dame, looked at PFAS chemicals in more than 200 cosmetic products. About 52% contained high levels of fluorine, an indicator of PFAS use in the product, according to the study. The Food and Drug Administration said there is limited research on whether PFAS in cosmetics is absorbed through the skin at levels that could harm human health.

According to surveys by the FDA, phthalates in cosmetics intended for people of all ages have decreased considerably since their surveys began in 2004. The FDA also has guidance on how much of a heavy metal can be included before it’s considered harmful.

Around 200 parents were surveyed for the study on their children. The study aimed to look at how many children are actually using these types of products.

“What we didn’t have a full grasp on is how these products are used,” Joglekar said.

“About half of them, a little over half of them, use these products monthly,” Joglekar added. “A third of them are actually ingesting these products directly.”

She said there are racial disparities in the use of these products, too.

“Latino children use these products more for play, and they use them more often,” she said.

“Under federal law, toys and cosmetics are regulated differently. So unlike toys, which are subject to more detailed regulations, cosmetics are really loosely regulated,” said Lakendra Barajas, an attorney in the toxic exposure and health program at Earthjustice.

But there are steps parents can take to ensure kids aren’t using products that could be dangerous.

“Make sure they look at the ingredients on the products that their kids are using to make sure that they don't include chemicals that the scientific community has determined can cause harm,” she said.