The researchers from the UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle Salinas showed us how our body reacts when we stop using cosmetics, shampoos and other personal care products. They reported a substantial drop in the levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in our organism.
The results from this research were released in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. During this research 100 Latina teenagers were given personal care products that were chemical-free, including parabesm phthalates, triclosan and oxybenzone. These chemicals are included in every conventional personal care products like soap, sunscreen, cosmetics, shampoo, conditioners and other hair products. Animal studies have proven that they really directly affect the human endocrine system.
“Since women are the most common consumers of personal care products, they are mostly exposed to these harmful chemicals,” says study lead author Kim Harley, associate director of the UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health. “The female teenagers are especially vulnerable because they are in the phase of rapid reproductive development, and research has pointed out that they use personal care products more often than any average adult woman.”
During the first three-day tests with the females using only the lower-chemical products, urine samples confirmed a great reduce in the concentrations of chemicals in the organism. Methyl and propyl parabens, usually used as preservatives in cosmetics, fell down at 44 and 45%, metabolites of diethyl phthalate, included in perfumes, fell down by 27%, and both triclosan and benzophenone-3 dropped by 36%. The scientists didn’t expect to notice sudden increase in tow lesser parabens, but those levels were small and could easily be result of accidental contamination of an alternative not listed in the labels.
Kimberly Parra is a co-director in this study and explains why it is very important that local teenagers are participating in this research:
On the scientific level, the results of this research are especially interesting due to the fact that high school students are able to learn more about the science and how to use it to improve their own health. The youth used these results to educate their friends and community members.
12 local high school students were included in the CHAMACOS Youth Council. They helped to design and implement the study. Maritza Cardenas, part of the teen researchers is today a UC Berkeley Undergraduate, majoring in molecular and cell biology.
“One of the aims of our research was to alert the subjects of the chemicals included in the products they use every day, to make people more aware about the products they buy,” says Cardenas. “Noticing the drop in chemical levels within three days proves that simple actions can be done, like buying the non-chemical products, which will surely make the difference.”
What Can You Do?
Always pay attention on the labels of every product you buy. Many of the personal care products have a list of contents, but many of them don’t have. If you really like certain product, you can contact the company and ask them what is included in their product.
Face towards the natural and organic products, but you should be more careful because the words “organic” and “natural” aren’t taken for granted in the cosmetic industry. Buy these products in some health food store and always check the label before buying it. Usually, when the products don’t contain chemicals, the manufacturers will surely tell you this information.
Sometimes the natural and organic products are more expensive, so you can try to make your own products. You can make almost every type of cosmetic products with simple ingredients. It will save you money and you will know what is contained in these products.
Take a look at the following video and learn more about the story of cosmetics!