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Concept: Cosmetics


The obstetrics-gynecology community has issued a call to action to prevent toxic environmental chemical exposures and their threats to healthy human reproduction. Recent committee opinions recognize that vulnerable and underserved women may be impacted disproportionately by environmental chemical exposures and recommend that reproductive health professionals champion policies that secure environmental justice. Beauty product use is an understudied source of environmental chemical exposures. Beauty products can include reproductive and developmental toxicants such as phthalates and heavy metals; however, disclosure requirements are limited and inconsistent. Compared with white women, women of color have higher levels of beauty product-related environmental chemicals in their bodies, independent of socioeconomic status. Even small exposures to toxic chemicals during critical periods of development (such as pregnancy) can trigger adverse health consequences (such as impacts on fertility and pregnancy, neurodevelopment, and cancer). In this commentary, we seek to highlight the connections between environmental justice and beauty product-related chemical exposures. We describe racial/ethnic differences in beauty product use (such as skin lighteners, hair straighteners, and feminine hygiene products) and the potential chemical exposures and health risks that are associated with these products. We also discuss how targeted advertising can take advantage of mainstream beauty norms to influence the use of these products. Reproductive health professionals can use this information to advance environmental justice by being prepared to counsel patients who have questions about toxic environmental exposures from beauty care products and other sources. Researchers and healthcare providers can also promote health-protective policies such as improved ingredient testing and disclosure for the beauty product industry. Future clinical and public health research should consider beauty product use as a factor that may shape health inequities in women’s reproductive health across the life course.

Concepts: Health care, Health, Human, Sociology, Cosmetics, Hygiene, Personal care, Feminine hygiene


Personal care products are a source of exposure to potentially endocrine disrupting chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and benzophenone-3 (BP-3) for adolescent girls.

Concepts: Xenoestrogen, Cosmetics, Phenols, Endocrine disruptor, Personal care, Paraben, Phenol, Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate


Parabens are effective preservatives widely used in cosmetic products and processed food, with high human exposure. Recent evidence suggests that parabens exert estrogenic effects. This work investigated the potential interference of parabens with the estrogen-activating enzyme 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD) 1 and the estrogen-inactivating 17β-HSD2. A ligand-based 17β-HSD2 pharmacophore model was applied to screen a cosmetic chemicals database, followed by in vitro testing of selected paraben compounds for inhibition of 17β-HSD1 and 17β-HSD2 activities. All tested parabens and paraben-like compounds, except their common metabolite p-hydroxybenzoic acid, inhibited 17β-HSD2. Ethylparaben and ethyl vanillate inhibited 17β-HSD2 with IC50 values of 4.6 ± 0.8 and 1.3 ± 0.3 µM, respectively. Additionally, parabens size-dependently inhibited 17β-HSD1, whereby hexyl- and heptylparaben were most active with IC50 values of 2.6 ± 0.6 and 1.8 ± 0.3 µM. Low micromolar concentrations of hexyl- and heptylparaben decreased 17β-HSD1 activity, and ethylparaben and ethyl vanillate decreased 17β-HSD2 activity. However, regarding the very rapid metabolism of these compounds to the inactive p-hydroxybenzoic acid by esterases, it needs to be determined under which conditions low micromolar concentrations of these parabens or their mixtures can occur in target cells to effectively disturb estrogen effects in vivo.

Concepts: Estrogen, In vivo, Xenoestrogen, In vitro, Cosmetics, Phenols, Paraben, 4-Hydroxybenzoic acid


The name “cosmeceuticals” is derived from “cosmetics and pharmaceuticals”, indicating that a specific product contains active ingredients. Marine algae have gained much importance in cosmeceutical product development due to their rich bioactive compounds. In the present review, marine algal compounds (phlorotannins, sulfated polysaccharides and tyrosinase inhibitors) have been discussed toward cosmeceutical application. In addition, atopic dermatitis and the possible role of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) in skin-related diseases have been explored extensively for cosmeceutical products. The proper development of marine algae compounds will be helpful in cosmeceutical product development and in the development of the cosmeceutical industry.

Concepts: Algae, Cosmetics, Matrix metalloproteinase, Active ingredient, Food and Drug Administration, Seaweed, Algaculture, Cosmeceutical


Several phthalates, particularly diethyl phthalate (DEP) and di-n-butyl phthalate, can be used in personal care products (PCPs) to fix fragrance and hold color. We investigated associations between women’s reported use of PCPs within the 24 h before urine collection and concentrations of several urinary phthalate metabolites. Between 2002 and 2005, 337 women provided spot urine samples and answered questions regarding their use of 13 PCPs at a follow-up visit 3-36 months after pregnancy. We examined associations between urinary concentrations of several phthalate metabolites and use of PCPs using linear regression. Use of individual PCPs ranged from 7% (nail polish) to 91% (deodorant). After adjusting for age, education, and urinary creatinine, women reporting use of perfume had 2.92 times higher (95% CI: 2.20-3.89) concentration of monoethyl phthalate (MEP; the primary metabolite of DEP) than other women. Other PCPs that were significantly associated with MEP concentrations included: hair spray, nail polish, and deodorant. MEP concentrations increased with the number of PCPs used. PCP use was widespread in this group of recently pregnant women. Women’s use of PCPs, particularly of perfumes and fragranced products, was positively associated with urinary concentration of multiple phthalate metabolites.Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology advance online publication, 21 November 2012; doi:10.1038/jes.2012.105.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Phthalates, Cosmetics, Toiletry, Perfume, Phthalate, Metabolite, Diethyl phthalate


During the last years, the EU market is flooded by illegal cosmetics via the Internet and a so-called “black market”. Among these, skin-bleaching products represent an important group. They contain, according to the current European cosmetic legislation (Directive 76/768/EEC), a number of illegal active substances including hydroquinone, tretinoin and corticosteroids. These may provoke as well local as systemic toxic effects, being the reason for their banning from the EU market. To control this market there is a need for a fast screening method capable of detecting illegal ingredients in the wide variety of existing bleaching cosmetic formulations. In this paper the development and validation of an ultra high pressure liquid chromatographic (UHPLC) method is described. The proposed method makes use of a Waters Acquity BEH shield RP18 column with a gradient using 25 mM ammonium borate buffer (pH 10) and acetonitrile. This method is not only able to detect the major illegal (hydroquinone, tretinoin and six dermatologic active corticosteroids) and legal whitening agents, the latter having restrictions with respect to concentration and application (kojic acid, arbutin, nicotinamide and salicylic acid), but can also quantify these in a run time of 12 min. The method was successfully validated using the “total error” approach in accordance with the validation requirements of ISO-17025. During the validation a variety of cosmetic matrices including creams, lotions and soaps were taken into consideration.

Concepts: European Union, United Kingdom, PH, Switzerland, Cosmetics, Borax, Norway, Skin whitening


Lightening skin tone is an ancient and well-documented practice, and remains common practice among many cultures. Whitening agents such as corticosteroids, tretinoin and hydroquinone are medically applied to effectively lighten the skin tone of hyperpigmented lesions. However, when these agents are used cosmetically, they are associated with a variety of side-effect. Alternative agents, such as arbutin and its derivatives kojic acid and nicotinamide have been subsequently developed for cosmetic purposes. Unfortunately, some cosmetics contain whitening agents that are banned for use in cosmetic products. This article provides an overview of the mode of action and potential side-effects of cosmetic legal and illegal whitening agents, and the pattern of use of these types of products. Finally, an EU analysis of the health problems due to the presence of illegal products on the market is summarized.

Concepts: Immune system, Morphine, Antibiotic, Alternative medicine, Adverse effect, Cosmetics, Iatrogenesis, Skin whitening


Nowadays, the consumers around the world are increasingly focused on health and beauty. The renewed consumer interest in natural cosmetic products create the demand for new products and reformulated others with botanical and functional ingredients. In cosmetic products, essential oils play a major role as fragrance ingredients. They can optimize its proprieties and preservation, as well as the marketing image of the final product. Microencapsulation of essential oils can protect and prevent the loss of volatile aromatic ingredients, improve the controlled release and stability of this core materials. The importance of essential oils for cosmetic industry and its microencapsulation was reviewed in this paper. Also a briefly introduction about the preparation of microparticles was presented. Some of the most important and usual microencapsulation techniques of essential oils, as well as the conventional encapsulating agents were discussed. Despite the fact that microencapsulation of essential oils is a very promising and extremely attractive application area for cosmetic industry, further basic research needs to be carried out; for a better understanding the biofunctional activities of microencapsulated essential oils and its release modulation, as well as the effects of others cosmetic ingredients and the storage time in the microparticles properties. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Health care, The Final, Protection, Cosmetics, Perfume, All rights reserved, Essential oil, Copyright


Cosmetics are normally composed of various ingredients. Some cosmetic ingredients can act as chemical haptens reacting toward proteins or peptides of human skin and they can provoke an immunologic reaction, called as skin sensitization. This haptenation process is very important step of inducing skin sensitization and evaluating the sensitizing potentials of cosmetic ingredients is very important for consumer safety. Therefore, animal alternative methods focusing on monitoring haptenation potential are undergoing vigorous research. To examined the further usefulness of spectrophotometric methods to monitor reactivity of chemicals toward peptides for cosmetic ingredients. Forty chemicals (25 sensitizers and 15 non-sensitizers) were reacted with 2 synthetic peptides, e.g., the cysteine peptides (Ac-RFAACAA-COOH) with free thiol group and the lysine peptides (Ac-RFAAKAA-COOH) with free amine group. Unreacted peptides can be detected after incubating with 5,5'-dithiobis-2-nitrobenzoic acid or fluorescamine™ as detection reagents for free thiol and amine group, respectively. Chemicals were categorized as sensitizers when they induced more than 10% depletion of cysteine peptides or more than 30% depletion of lysine peptides. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy were 80.0%, 86.7% and 82.5%, respectively. These results demonstrate that spectrophotometric methods can be an easy, fast, and high-throughput screening tools predicting the skin sensitization potential of chemical including cosmetic ingredient.

Concepts: Amino acid, Amine, Chemical reaction, Nitrogen, Skin, Disulfide bond, Cosmetics, Thiol


Skin lightening products are types of cosmetics (creams, gels, lotions and soaps) applied voluntarily on skin. Several of these products contain a variety of active ingredients that are highly toxic. Among those toxic agents, the present study focuses on mercury, hydroquinone, and clobetasol propionate. Out of the 93 lightening soaps and 98 creams purchased in large city markets in sub-Saharan West Africa and in small ethnic shops in Canada, 68-84% of all creams and 7.5-65% of all soaps exceeded regulatory guidelines for at least one active ingredient when considering different regulations. Mercury was found in high concentrations mainly in soaps, while hydroquinone and clobetasol propionate concentrations exceeded US FDA standards in some creams for all countries included in our study. Concentrations of the three compounds declared on labels of soaps and creams usually did not correspond to concentrations actually measured, particularly for mercury and hydroquinone. Overall, our results indicate that most studied skin-lightening products are potentially toxic and that product labels are frequently inaccurate with respect to the presence of toxic agents.

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Pharmaceutical drug, Cosmetics, Biological activity, Propionates, Hydroquinone, Skin whitening