Makeup for children contains highly poisonous chemicals – study

Science and Health

Do your children wear makeup on a daily basis? If the answer is yes, you should probably read this: New and disturbing research from Columbia University in the US shows that most children grow up in the US using makeup and body skincare products that contain damaging chemicals and materials that can cause cancer like lead and asbestos.

The authors of the study, which was published in the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health conducted more than 200 surveys and found that 79% of parents reported that their children aged 12 and younger use makeup and skincare products marketed to kids. More specific examples included sparkles, face paint and lip gloss.

Earlier research warned that these products often contain poisonous chemicals like lead, asbestos, PFAS, phthalates and formaldehyde. Furthermore, it seems like the poisonous chemicals that are found in makeup and cosmetics for children are especially dangerous for babies and small children. 

What dangers do these chemicals pose?

These chemicals, whether they are added on purpose or appear as contaminants, have a connection to many health issues like cancer, neuro-developmental issues and other serious and irreversible health consequences.

“With increasing evidence of harmful ingredients often included in adult cosmetics and CMBPs and children’s biological susceptibility to the effects of toxicants, it is important to uncover how makeup and body products are being used by children to [quantify] risk and improve safety,” wrote the researchers in the study.

Woman puts on makeup (credit: INGIMAGE)

Out of all the children involved in the study, some 54% used makeup on at least a monthly basis. A further 12% used it every day and 20% wore makeup for eight or more hours every time. A third of the children even reported accidental swallowing of the products in the last year.

“Children are especially susceptible to the negative health risks related to the chemicals that are often found in cosmetics,” explained lead researcher Prof. Julie Herbstman, a professor of public health sciences. “As well as dermal exposure through the skin, behavioral patterns such as hand-to-mouth activity may increase exposure to products through unintentional ingestion. Furthermore, the small size of children’s bodies, the fast-growing rate, the developing tissues and organs and … immune systems make them biologically sensitive to the effects of poisonous substances.”

She added that “it’s concerning that the industry is allowed to sell cosmetics marketed to children when they contain extremely poisonous substances. The findings of this study can help regulatory agencies to better understand how children use these products and will hopefully, encourage agencies to work to protect children from exposure to poisonous chemicals.”