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Evidence supports unequal burdens of chemical exposures from personal care products (PCPs) among some groups, namely femme-identifying and racial and ethnic minorities. In this study, we implemented an online questionnaire to assess PCP purchasing and usage behaviors and perceptions of use among a sample of US adults recruited at a Northeastern university. We collected PCP use across seven product categories (hair, beauty, skincare, perfumes/colognes, feminine hygiene, oral care, other), and behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions of use and safety across sociodemographic factors to evaluate relationships between sociodemographic factors and the total number of products used within the prior 24–48 h using multivariable models. We also summarized participants’ perceptions and attitudes. Among 591 adults (20.0% Asian American/Pacific Islander [AAPI], 5.9% Hispanic, 9.6% non-Hispanic Black [NHB], 54.6% non-Hispanic White [NHW], and 9.9% multiracial or other), the average number of PCPs used within the prior 24–48 h was 15.6 ± 7.7. PCP use was greater among females than males (19.0 vs. 7.9, P < 0.01) and varied by race and ethnicity among females. Relative to NHWs, AAPI females used fewer hair products (2.5 vs. 3.1) and more feminine hygiene products (1.5 vs. 1.1), NHB females used more hair products (3.8 vs. 3.1), perfumes (1.0 vs. 0.6), oral care (2.3 vs. 1.9), and feminine hygiene products (1.8 vs. 1.1), and multiracial or other females used more oral care (2.2 vs. 1.9) and feminine hygiene products (1.5 vs. 1.1) (P-values <0.05). Generally, study participants reported moderate concern about exposures and health effects from using PCPs, with few differences by gender, race, and ethnicity. These findings add to the extant literature on PCP use across sociodemographic characteristics. Improving the understanding of patterns of use for specific products and their chemical ingredients is critical for developing interventions to reduce these exposures, especially in vulnerable groups with an unequal burden of exposure.


This article was originally published in Environmental Research, volume 236, part 1, in 2023.

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