A post over at the Goody Blog (which is so fun!) tonight is highlighting a study claiming that women who use make-up daily absorb 5 pounds of chemicals into their body yearly, and encouraging women to use multipurpose products to cut down on the number of potentially interacting substances.
While I don’t disagree with the thinking here (who wants an extra 5 pounds of chemicals?), I do take issue with the quoted fact. It just seems really high to me. How do you measure such a thing accurately, anyway? How do you compensate for the lipstick that disappears when you blot? When you drink morning coffee? When you kiss your kids?
So I clicked over to the source to find out. The initial article was published in The Telegraph (London). Perfectly respectable paper, right? So the facts are clear, right?
Let’s read a little closer. The first line of the article says:
“Women who use make-up on a daily basis are absorbing almost 5lb of chemicals a year into their bodies, it is claimed.”
Whoa, there! It is claimed? Who claims it? How? Who perfomed the study? Were the results published in a referreed journal? Who funded the study, and what did they have to gain from the results?
The article never says. But let’s read on.
“…Richard Bence, a biochemist who has spent three years researching conventional products, said: “We really need to start questioning the products we are putting on our skin and not just assume that the chemicals in them are safe. We have no idea what these chemicals do when they are mixed together, the effect could be much greater than the sum of the individual parts.” Mr Bence, an advocate of organic beauty products,”
Whoops! You had me at “advocate.” What we have here is a study that is not entirely free of bias. Regardless of experimental design, a biased principal investigator can be a sign of a questionable study. Other signs would be funding by a particular organic beauty product line, lack of publication in the standard peer review journals, etc. We don’t know if this study fits those criteria or not, though, since the details are omitted from the Telegraph article.
My point? Don’t panic. Although there may be some truth to this statement, it certainly isn’t a proven fact that women absorb at least / at most / on average / or even sometimes 5 pounds of chemicals through their skin each year. At least, not based on this article.