Chemical Exposure Decreases with Change of Cosmetics

Potentially endocrine-disrupting chemicals are present in many personal care products, putting girls at particular risk, as makeup, lotions, and shampoos are sources. Now, a new study shows that by switching to products without such chemicals, we can lower our urinary concentrations of phthalates, triclosan, and other potentially harmful substances.

The study – led by Kim Harley, associate director of the University of California-Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health – is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), phthalates are a group of chemicals used in plastics, flooring, detergents, soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, cosmetics, and nail polishes.

Once they enter the body, they are then converted into metabolites that pass in the urine.

Although the health effects of exposure to these chemicals are largely unknown, some types have been shown to affect the reproductive system in laboratory animals.

The CDC says “more research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to phthalates,” which is not particularly comforting for consumers.

Furthermore, the CDC has previously found significant levels of phthalate metabolites in the general population, which suggests that phthalate exposure is far-reaching in the US population.

Previous research from the organization has also found that adult women have higher urinary metabolite levels than men since phthalates are used in personal care products that are used more frequently by women.

Metabolites of chemicals decreased after 3 days

The researchers of this latest study wanted to investigate how switching cosmetic products – to those labeled free of phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and oxybenzone – would affect urinary metabolites in adolescent girls.

These chemicals have been shown in previous animal studies to intervene in the body’s endocrine system.

“Because women are the primary consumers of many personal care products,” says Harley, “they may be disproportionately exposed to these chemicals.” She adds:


”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.”

To conduct their investigation, the researchers analyzed urine samples of 100 Latina teenagers who were participating in the Health and Environmental Research on the Makeup of Salinas Adolescents (HERMOSA) study.

They measured metabolites in urine samples both before and after a 3-day trial, in which the girls used the products with fewer chemicals.

Results showed that metabolites of diethyl phthalate – used in fragrances – decreased by 27%, while methyl and propyl parabens – used as preservatives in cosmetics – decreased by 44% and 45%, respectively. Meanwhile, triclosan – found in soaps and toothpaste – and benzophenone-3 (BP-3) – found in sunscreens – both decreased by 36%.

“The results of the study are particularly interesting on a scientific level,” says study co-director Kimberly Parra, “but the fact that high school students led the study set a new path to engaging youth in learning about science and how it can be used to improve the health of their communities.”

She adds that after learning about the study outcomes, many of the girls wanted to educate the community and presented their cause to legislatures in Sacramento, CA.

Consumer techniques can reduce personal exposure

Interestingly, another result of the study revealed a minor increase in concentrations of two less common parabens – ethyl and butyl parabens – but the researchers say the levels were small and could be down to either accidental contamination or a substitution not indicated on the product labels.

The team notes that cosmetics and personal products are not well regulated in the US – likely due to a lack of data regarding exposure health effects.

However, there is growing evidence that endocrine-disrupting chemicals are linked to neurobehavioral problems, obesity and cancer cell growth.

Medical News Today recently reported on a study that suggested a certain phthalate found in food packaging could lead to weight gain, for example.

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

The researchers conclude their investigation by writing:


”This study demonstrates that techniques available to consumers, such as choosing personal care products that are labelled to be free of phthalates, parabens, triclosan and BP-3 can reduce personal exposure to possible endocrine-disrupting chemicals.”

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Beauty from Inside-Out with Super Fruit Extracts

There are many foods and nutrients that span the bridge between the cosmeceutical and Nutri cosmetic sectors. They can act as an ingredient that can be added to skin creams, shampoos, and other personal care items, and can also be used as a supplement that can be taken internally along with other health-enhancing nutrients that support skin and hair.


One example of this kind of ingredient is a super fruit combination, which includes goji, acai, noni, pomegranate, green tea, mangosteen, and green coffee bean.


These super fruits have a long history of use by traditional people in the areas where they are found, as well as scientific data substantiating their high level of healthy antioxidants. Goji (wolfberry) has been treasured for centuries by the Himalayan people, the berries of the goji plant (Lycium barbarum) have been consumed daily by many of the world’s longest-living people.


Acai is a berry harvested from the Brazilian rain forest, where natives believe the acai berry to have amazing healing and nutritional properties.


Studies show acai has up to 33 times the antioxidant content as red wine grapes. Noni grows in the Caribbean, Tahiti, and Hawaii, producing a strange white, soft fruit. It is harvested when it is ripe, and pulverized, then strained it to make a healthful drink, high in enzymes and other factors that support healthy skin and hair.


Mangosteen is called “queen of the fruit” due to its delicious flavor and traditional medicinal use. It contains a wide range of antioxidants such as a polyhydroxy-xanthone derivative called mangosteen.


The green coffee bean is the fresh, unroasted seed harvested from coffee plants. It’s high in beneficial antioxidants, which gives it one of the highest ORAC values found in nature. Green coffee beans are high in chlorogenic acid, which may be linked to its energizing and fat burning capacity touted by Dr. Oz, and promoted by Starbucks as part of its “Refresher” line.

Pomegranate literally means “apple with many seeds.” This ancient fruit has been linked to fertility and beauty. Modern science confirms its use in topical applications due to suppression of lipid oxidation from its high ellagic acid levels (Plast Reconstr Surg. 1994 Dec; 94(7):1027-37) and enhanced effects for sunscreens (Cosmet Dermatol .2001;14(10):43–5).

All of these superfruits make beautiful label content and can support skin health when used for beauty from within as well as topically.