Analysis highlights health risks associated with teenage cosmetics

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics

US lobby group the Breast Cancer Fund, says analysis it has carried
out on some popular teenage cosmetics products highlights a number
of health risks - a problem that the body says brings further
attention to the lack of regulation in the nation's cosmetic

The body argues that while the presence of one potentially risky ingredient in any given cosmetic product does not give significant concern about the risk of cancer and birth defects, it says it is concerned about a build-up of potentially dangerous ingredients from using a series of topically applied products.

Recently the Washington-based Environmental Group - a body that the Breast Cancer Fund works closely with - launched an on-line brand-by-brand safety guide called Skin Deep. The Breast Cancer Fund used this resource to assess a number of popular teenage products containing potentially dangerous chemicals.

In particular, the Breast Cancer Fund highlighted one nail varnish brand from OPI Brands that is popular with teenagers and drew attention to the fact that the Skin Deep databases considered it to have a 'high' health risk concern rating.

The nail varnish brand contained formeldahyde and tolulene - known carcinogens - and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) - an ingredient linked to birth defects. Similarly, the databases also highlight a number of other nail varnish products that also carried 'moderate' health risk concerns.

The Breast Cancer Fund​ stresses that teenage years represent a window of vulnerability to chemical exposure as this period of rapid development means that the body is more sensitive to external toxicants.

"Puberty is a time of rapid cell development. Tissues are more sensitive to external toxicants, including those that can impair fertility and increase the risk of breast cancer,"​ said Jeanne Rizzo, executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund. "That's why we're concerned about hazardous ingredients in cosmetics products."

Likewise, reports have recently pointed out that, with spending power never higher amongst teenage groups in the US, expenditure and use of cosmetic products is continuing to grow in parallel with this economic power. A number of the products being specifically targeted at this growing category - nail polish being a prime example - contain ingredients that are known to have potentially dangerous ingredients.

The Breast Cancer Fund also pointed to Sally Hansend Hard As Nails Strengthener Clear as being of higher concer, while in the make-up category, Cover Girl Cheekers Blush was also highlighted as being a 'high' risk rating.

Neutrogena - a brand that is sold on its simple, no-fuss image - did not fair so well with its Oil-Free Acne Wash Foam Cleanser, which was also given a 'high' risk rating. It contains PEG-8, an ingredient that is deemed to be not safe for a damaged or injured skin.

However, the analysis also points to a number of products that were commended for being safe. Two of these was Burt's Bees Natural Cosmetics All-Natural Blushing Crème with Vitamin and Tea Tree Oil Facial Cleansing Pads from Desert Essence, which were both commended for their safe rating.

The Breast Cancer Fund pointed to the progressive move made by the state of California, which two months ago introduced a bill ensuring that all potentially dangerous cosmetic ingredients must be labeled on the packaging.

The body is encouraging the national adoption of such a strategy, but in the meantime, it says that it wants to bring about awareness of potentially dangerous ingredients in certain cosmetics products used by teenagers, in an attempt to reduce the total number of potentially dangerous ingredients that are being used as part of a normal daily beauty routine.

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