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Clean cosmetics: Does science back up this new trend?

The desire for fair skin is commonly encountered in communities
with dark skin due to a long-held and deeply rooted sociocultural
belief that lighter skin color is more beautiful, associated with higher
prestige, and gives more social advantage. The use of skin-lightening
agents is very high in sub-Saharan Africa, with the highest
prevalence reported in Nigeria. Despite high awareness of the
harmful effects of skin-lightening agents, many individuals still use
these agents, highlighting the fact that deep psychosocial forces may
drive their continued use. To guide interventions and nd a lasting
solution to this epidemic, these factors need to be established to
tailor solutions appropriately.
This study was conducted to determine the psychosocial factors
that are associated with the use of skin-lightening agents among
young female undergraduate students in Nigeria.
This was a descriptive cross-sectional study involving consenting,
consecutive undergraduate students from four university campuses
in Nigeria. Validated questionnaires were used to assess self-esteem
(Rosenbergs self-esteem scale), sexual attitude (Brief sexual attitude
scale), depression (PHQ-9), body dysmorphic disorder (BDDV), and
social desirability (Marlowe-Crowne scale). Bleaching agents were
categorized as soaps, creams, triple-action creams, and a
combination of any of these.
There were 678 female respondents (66.2%) with a mean age of
21.8 (3.2) years. The majority (93.8%) practiced one or more forms of
skin bleaching (95% condence interval: 91.9-95.6). However, with
triple-action creams eliminated, the prevalence was 84.3%. The
majority (66%) of agents were self-prescribed, and the most common
reasons for use were to treat a skin condition and preserve or
maintain the skin tone by preventing tanning from the harsh tropical
sun. There was a signicant relationship between body dysmorphic
disorder and checking the active ingredient with the use of bleaching
creams and/or creams. There was no relationship between self-
esteem, sexual attitude, depression, and the practice of all forms of
skin bleaching. Interestingly, 87% of male participants preferred
lighter-complexioned female partners.
The results suggest that medical and social, rather than
psychological, factors are associated with use of skin-lightening
agents in the study population.
Clean cosmetics: Does science back up this new trend?
Neera Nathan MD, MSHS, Molly Wanner MD, MBA
Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston,
Cleancosmetic and personal care products are a popular new
beauty trend that has been touted by international retailers,
celebrities, and the media and is projected to generate N$20 billion
in revenue by 2024. This new wave of products is being prepared
without common additives that proponents believe may be harmful;
however, little is known about the science behind these claims.
As the medical authority in skincare, dermatologists would
benet from an understanding of the evidence that supports
avoiding certain ingredients, if any, in cosmetic or other topical
personal care products.
An Internet search was performed to determine the ingredients
commonly avoided in the production of clean cosmetic and personal care
products. A PubMed literature search was performed to identify relevant
studies on the side effects of the identied chemicals, including
methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), vitamin A derivatives, fragrance,
phenoxyethanol, petroleum distillates, formaldehydes, triclosan and
triclocarban, toluene, resorcinol, butylated hydroxyanisole, boric acid
and sodium borate, phthalates, placenta extract, parabens, PEGs and
ceteareth (1,4-dioxane), and coal tar ingredients.
The majority of ingredients avoided in clean cosmetic and
personal care products could be categorized into one of three
groups: irritants or allergens (MCI, vitamin A derivatives, fragrance,
phenoxyethanol, petroleum distillates, and formaldehydes),
potential endocrine disruptors (triclosan and triclocarban, toluene,
resorcinol, petroleum distillates, butylated hydroxyanisole, boric acid
and sodium borate, phthalates, placenta extract, parabens, and
phenoxyethanol) ,and potential carcinogens (PEGs and ceteareth
[1,4-dioxane]), formaldehydes, coal tar ingredients, petroleum
distillates, and placenta extract). There were substantial data to
support avoiding topical application of certain irritants or allergens,
including MCI, fragrance, and formaldehyde/formaldehyde releasers,
due to the known associations with allergic contact dermatitis. There
was no clear evidence in humans that topical exposure at routine
doses of potential endocrine disruptors caused hormonal
abnormalities, in part due few human studies being available and
the unclear signicance of levels of these chemicals found in bodily
uids with respect to topical exposure. There was evidence to
support the link between formaldehyde and cancer formation in
both animals and humans at high doses, including through topical
exposure. Although some data show that coal tar has been linked to
cancer with occupational exposure, topical use of coal tar products in
dermatology to treat psoriasis and eczema has not been associated
with an increased rate of skin cancer or internal cancers.
There appears to be evidence to support avoiding some, but not all,
chemicals omitted from clean products, including MCI, fragrance, and
formaldehyde, due to the relative frequency of associated allergic contact
dermatitis, in addition to the known carcinogenic nature of formaldehyde
in humans with topical exposure, albeit at high doses. More data are
needed to determine the impact of routine topical application of potential
endocrine disruptors on human health.
White ambition leading to topical corticosteroid misuse - A beauty
myth in skin of color
Sitaula Seema MD
, Amrita Neupane MBBS
, Anil Kumar Das MD
Department of Dermatology, Alka Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal
Department of Dermatology, IOM, Teaching Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal
... 3 The lack of regulatory oversight of these definitions allows industry and beauty influencers to define clean and natural beauty, which is often based on consumer perceptions of "clean" instead of on science. 4 Many of the products denounce ingredients such as chemical sunscreens, preservatives, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and petrochemicals. ...
... However, there is no clear causative evidence to support similar effects with topical application in humans. 4,17,18 In the recent 2017-2018 North American Contact Dermatitis Group series, 0.6% of 4942 patch-tested patients were positive to paraben mix. 7 Despite being named the ACDS "Non-allergen" of the Year for 2019 and considered one of the least allergenic and safest preservatives available, negative consumer perception has led to decreased use of parabens in clean beauty products. ...
Background: Consumers seek "clean" and "natural" products based on their perception of safety. However, there is no standard, scientific basis, or regulatory oversight in the marketing or ingredient use for "clean" products. Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of allergenic ingredients in "clean" products. Methods: Target and Walgreens Web sites were queried for "clean" products with inclusion of 1470 products. Ingredient lists were analyzed for potential allergens. Analysis included descriptive statistics and χ2 test. Results: The most common allergens were fragrances/botanicals (1218/1470, 82.9%), phenoxyethanol (591/1470, 40.2%), tocopherol (545/1470, 40.2%), benzoic acid and benzoates (434/1470, 29.5%), propylene glycol (369/1470, 25.1%), alkyl glucosides (305/1470, 20.7%), ethylhexylglycerin (304/1470, 20.7%), cetyl alcohol (282/1470, 19.2%), cocamidopropyl betaine (258/1470, 17.6%), and benzyl alcohol (232/1470, 15.8%). Among fragrances/botanicals, the most common ingredients found were fragrance/perfume/aroma (911/1470, 68.2%), citrus derivatives (375/1470, 25.5%), linalool (305/1470, 20.7%), limonene (279/1470, 19.0%), and benzyl alcohol (231/1470, 15.7%). A total of 93.8% of the products (1379/1470) contained at least 1 potential allergen. Conclusions: Most "clean" products contain a potential allergen, predominately fragrances and botanicals.
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This qualitative study builds upon previous quantitative new media studies using Bandura’s social cognitive theory of mass communication (SCT) to understand health and beauty content on Pinterest. The thematic analysis investigated Pinterest search results for “healthy” makeup products to contextualize Pinterest’s influence on social perceptions of health, beauty, and consumption among women. Pins were analyzed through the SCT constructs of a) standards promoted and b) behaviors encouraged to users searching for healthy makeup products as conveyed through social modeling, messages, and social rewards in “healthy” makeup pins. Additionally, pins were analyzed for their articulation within Pinterest as a postfeminist media culture and their embodiment of medicalization. Results indicate that pins for healthy makeup products largely encouraged appearance-related standards and behaviors, rather than health-related ones. Pins also enacted a postfeminist media culture to perform “health” through the disciplined application of specific makeup products.
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