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44% of Cosmetic Users Experience Negative Side Effects


Researchers in a recent study said women are more likely to experience these effects, which can affect internal health.

As much as 44% of individuals who use cosmetics in their daily routines experience negative side effects.

Yakobchuk Olena/AdobeStock
Yakobchuk Olena/AdobeStock

A recent study1 sought to determine the adverse reactions that may come as a result of cosmetic use. Additionally, researchers intended to assess awareness levels of female patients who use cosmetic products.

Female patients who received treatment at the dermatology department in Kasturba Hospital and Medical College in Manipal, India, from December 2020 to March 2022 were considered for participation. All participants (n=400) were between the ages of 18 to 60 and were asked to give informed consent.

Individuals with severe allergies or facial dermatoses were excluded from participation, as were individuals who were non-conversant in the English language.

Researchers devised a 3-part, pilot tested and self-administered questionnaire to be completed by all participants prior to the study. The questionnaire collected participants’ socio-demographic data as well as their history of cosmetic product use and adverse effects caused as a result of the use.

395 of the 400 participants reported using cosmetic products. Researchers noted a statistically significant difference between age, cosmetic use, and working status, with 65.5% of women ages 18 to 28 reporting as non-working individuals.

Of the 395 cosmetic users, 364 women reported using an average of 1 to 3 cosmetic products on a daily basis. Of these cosmetic users, 62% of women reported that they did not, or do not, consult a dermatologist prior to using the products.

Less than half (43.03%) of study participants read cosmetic labels related to safety, storage, and product ingredients, and more than half (54.75%) reported that they did not follow product instructions.

Researchers said that the vast majority of women, 378, or 95.75%, were unaware of how to report adverse effects, or of the cosmetovigilance system.

“Maximum harm was caused by complexion skin care products,” study authors wrote. “Scalp, hair, and face were the most affected areas by cosmetics adverse events. Acne was the most common side effect associated with the use of cosmetics and affected about 15.25% women.”

The most commonly-reported adverse effects among participants were cutaneous in nature, including an increase in acne, itching, dryness, and redness. Some respondents also reported ocular effects and systemic effects, and some reported effects such as nausea or headaches due to product odor.

“This implies the need to consider cosmetic product use-related safety concerns,” study authors wrote. "The concept of cosmetovigilance can be promoted among cosmetic distributors, users, manufacturers, and other stakeholders in order to reduce the adverse events.”


  1. Nayak M, Ligade VS, Prabhu SS. Awareness level regarding adverse reactions caused by cosmetic products among female patients: A cross‐sectional study. J Cosm Dermatol. 2023. doi:10.1111/jocd.15734
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