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Personal care product use among diverse women in California: Taking Stock Study

Abstract

Background

Personal care product use may contribute to elevated body burdens of consumer product chemicals among women of color; however, racial/ethnic differences in product use has been understudied. Community-engaged research can support the recruitment of diverse participants.

Objective

To document personal care product use among a diverse group of women (aged 18–34 years) living in California.

Methods

Through a community-academic partnership, we surveyed 357 women in California about product use information for 54 cosmetic, hair, menstrual/intimate care, and leave-on and rinse-off personal care products. We compared type and frequency of product use among Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian, and White women. We also summarized use of scented products and reasons women select products.

Results

Women reported using a median of 8 products daily, with some women reporting up to 30 products daily. Hispanic/Latinx and Asian women used more cosmetics, and Black women used more hair and menstrual/intimate products than other women. 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.

Significance

There is growing information on chemical exposures from personal care products and consequent adverse health effects, with implications for health disparities. Yet, there remains limited information on the range and types of products used by diverse racial/ethnic communities. This study helps close an important gap on product use inventories that can enable more informed public health interventions to limit exposures from personal care products.

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Fig. 1: Median number of products used currently or within the past year in each product category by race/ethnicity.
Fig. 2: Frequency of use for products with significant differences by race/ethnicity.
Fig. 3: Percent of scented product use by product type.
Fig. 4: Factors influencing product choices.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Marissa Chan for her help developing the survey and kicking off the study, Karin Michels for helpful feedback on the survey, and Kimberly Robinson and Brianna VanNoy for their help disseminating the survey.

Funding

This project is funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program (Grant # 23UB-6511).

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Correspondence to Robin E. Dodson or Bhavna Shamasunder.

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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

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-021-00327-3

Keywords

  • Personal care products
  • Fragrance
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals
  • Environmental health disparities

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