Differences in Personal Care Product Use Among Diverse Women

Article Author: Amanda Thompson, Biology Major, Class of 2023, POB Science Translator

Waking up in the morning, the first thing that many of us do is head to the bathroom for our self care routine. We brush our teeth, wash our face, and apply the moisturizers and makeup that ready us for the day. This daily routine looks different from person to person, as the products we use are chosen specific to our body and our needs. While these products may make us feel fresh, many have been proven to contain chemicals that pollute our bodies and disturb our endocrine system. 

Although there is data on the hormonal effects of products used by women overall, there is a lack of related resources available to women of other races and ethnicities, including Hispanic/Latinx, Asian, and Black women. The personal care products that are marketed to women of color can lead to increased body burden (the total amount of a particular chemical present in a human body), due to the type and frequency of use.

A recent (December, 2020) study conducted in California documented the personal care product use among a diverse group of women (ages 18-34) living in the state. In this study, 357 women were surveyed to see how many products they used on a daily basis. In response, the researchers learned that these women use a median of 8 products per day; however, some women used up to 30 products per day. “Of the 54 products compared, there were significant differences in use by race/ethnicity for 28 products, with the largest number of significant differences between Black and White women.” While the number of personal care products used by women was not directly correlated to their race/ethnicity, the type of products and the frequency that they used them did correspond with race and ethnicity. 

The study revealed that women of different races and ethnicities use specific personal care products at different frequencies. One of the most significant results was the greater use of hair products and menstrual/intimate products by Black women. Due to the higher frequency of use, Black women are generally more susceptible to the effects of chemicals found in hair products and menstrual/intimate products as compared to women of different races. For example, phthalates are commonly found in root stimulators, hair lotions, and hair relaxers. Phthalates are a group of chemicals known for their carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting properties. This means that they mimic natural hormones in the body, resulting in the endocrine system’s cell receptors to respond in unintended ways. This disruption of the endocrine system could lead to a variety of negative health outcomes such as an increased risk of uterine fibroids, preterm birth, and breast cancer. As Black women use more of these products that contain these hormonally active agents, they have a greater risk of developing these health defects. 

Protect Our Breasts focuses on the effects of various beauty care products on our endocrine system. However, it is vital that we consider the significance of the frequency that we are using and exposing ourselves to the ingredients in our products. Products that we use more frequently and last longer on our bodies should be wisely selected and prioritized in our search for healthy and clean beauty care. Just a simple shift in our morning routines not only provides us with a clean start to the day, but can contribute to a healthier life ahead of us as well.


Dodson, R.E., Cardona, B., Zota, A.R. et al. Personal care product use among diverse women in California: Taking Stock Study. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 31, 487–502 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-021-00327-3

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is the author’s opinion. Our authors are not scientists. We are not providing medical advice, but simply sharing publicly available information. When we reference data and databases, we do so with the caveat that most are only as good as the data they are based on. While POB strives to make the information as timely and accurate as possible, we make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the completeness, or adequacy of the contents of any site that is shared, and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of these sites.  POB goes to great lengths to avoid declaring shared products as “safe” as there is no legal definition of the word “safe” at this time. 

Comments are closed.