Makeup, cosmetics could contain harmful levels of chemicals


MISSOULA, Mont. - You might want to double-check your cosmetics after a UC Berkeley study said personal care products can cause dangerous levels of chemicals and hormones in teens. Experts said even a short break from certain brands of makeup, shampoos and lotions can significantly drop hormone-disrupting chemicals in the body.

Researchers gave 100 teens products free of harmful chemicals like phthalates and parabens. They preserves cosmetics, help keep their consistency and help protect against certain micro-organisms.

After three days, participants had significant drops of the chemical levels in their bodies. Phthalate levels decreased by nearly 30 percent, while paraben levels were nearly cut in half.

Madelyn Quinn, a senior at Big Sky High School in Missoula, said the findings are concerning. "It's kind of freaky what actually goes into them."

Before going to class, applying mascara, foundation and lipstick are parts of her morning routine. Prior to learning about the study she had never thought about checking labels.

Experts said chemical levels can be especially harmful in teens.

"They're already going through all these hormonal changes," said UM pharmacy school associate professor Sherrill Brown. She said people don't often think about topical agents being highly absorbent.

"You think a lot about what it's doing to you externally. I had no idea that it was doing stuff to you internally, too," Quinn added.

Brown said to look for products labeled as "paraben-free" or low in phthalates or chemicals. She also advised to be cautious with fragrance products. Brown said even "organic" labeled products can be misleading.