Chemistry in the Home-Are Personal Hygiene Products Safe?

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Posted on October 13, 2020


A.Me Request Description

Chemistry in the Home-Are Personal Hygiene Products Safe?

In this assignment you will explore the ingredients in your personal hygiene products.

If you read the ingredient list of your personal hygiene products such as antiperspirant, lotion, shampoo, body spray or toothpaste you will likely see a long list of scary chemical terms. At this point in the course you should be able to classify many of these chemicals from their names. For example triethanolamine is an amine with hydroxyl groups. You could probably even make a good attempt to draw it.

You will be using the website It is a cosmetics database with information on many products and many ingredients.

You are going to answer the questions: (don’t answer them here!)

“Are my personal hygiene products safe?”

“What risks are associated with them?”

“How can I minimize my risk?”

“What should be done by companies/the government to decrease the risks associated with their products?”

Start by answering the first question. This is to be included in your assignment. Be sure to include reasons for your opinion on the safety of your products.


Part 1: Product Research

The safety of many products that we use daily is being questioned more frequently and many ingredients pose well known adverse health risks.

You are going to choose five (5) products you use regularly. They can be lotion, shave gel, nail polish, tooth paste, shampoo etc. Before you look up your products, rank them on how toxic you think they are in comparison to each other!

For each product you will look up and find the closest match in the database. You will then describe the risks associated with the product, how it compared with your expectations and alternative products.

Ex. here I search for nail polish after noticing that mine contained barium…

The site details the overall risk level and the concerns associated with each ingredient.

Here is an outline/sample:

Product and Hazard Level

Health and Environmental Concerns



Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear



Explain the main health risks associated with the product.

Main concerns are endocrine disruption, bioaccumulation, irritation and organ system toxicity and neurotoxicity (notice how I have paraphrased this information!)


Explain how this product compares to your expectations.

I hypothesized that this product would be about a 7. This product was about as hazardous as I expected. I was surprised …


Find and justify an alternative to the product which is less toxic but still meets your needs.

Include the product name and risk level. Be realistic-you don’t want to replace a $5 product with a $50 one. Not all products are available widely.

Part 2: Ingredient Research

In this part of the assignment you will choose five (5) organic* ingredients from one (or more) personal hygiene products. (*By organic I mean the organic chemistry definition of comprised of primarily C, H & O). These can be ingredients from the products you have already researched in Part 1.

Here I am searching for triethanolamine.

After selecting the best match, I get this screen:

It details the overall health risks and specific problems associated with each chemical compound.

You will provide the name, drawing, classification (amide, hydroxyl, alkyl etc.), purpose, products found in and concerns associated with the product.

An example for triethanolamine follows

Name and Hazard level








Overall risk: 5

Tertiary amine;

Primary hydroxyl; saturated

An alkaline substance used as a surfactant, a pH adjuster, fragrance , emulsifier, bufferer & masker

Over 1456 products, including: moisturizers, mascara, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner and pain relief.

Non-reproductive organ toxicity;

Immune toxicity or allergen;

Skin toxicity or allergen.


**do NOT copy and paste the image from the database! DO hand draw or use a program like Chemsketch or to make them yourself!**


Part 3: Conclusion, Recommendations and Response

After examining your chosen products and ingredients, you will:

* Draw some conclusions about the safety of personal hygiene products (remember to address your pre-research statement) and explain if the health risks they pose are reasonable given the availability (to clarify, do you think that you should expect that your shampoo may cause cancer?)

* Make at least two realistic and well-thought out recommendations about how to mitigate the risks involved. This can include actions at various levels (such as government, corporation, public, individual). Include:

  • the two actions & the level at which they occur
  • an outline of what the action will look like, how it will be enforced or how it will occur
  • what the benefits and possible problems with the action may be

* Respond to your learning in this assignment. Your response should include how the assignment impacted you, how organic chemistry relates to your life & a possible related career in chemistry.

This section should be about 1-2 pages.



Your submission should include the following

□ A pre-research statement about your opinion on whether you think your products (in general) are safe

□ A pre-research ranking of the 5 products you wish to research including estimated risk levels (0 very safe-10 highly toxic)

□ A table of the five products you researched. You may not research the same product as included in the sample.

□ A table of the five organic ingredients you researched. You may not include triethanolamine.

□ A conclusion about the safety of products

□ At least two well thought out recommendations for risk mitigation

□ A response to your learning.

Skills Required

No Rush

About the Student

1 A.Me Request(s) posted # of tutors previously hired: 0
Member since: October 13, 2020

Mike Njeru

Excellent Grades


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Paul Mark

An excellent Social Sciences/Biology/Nursing/IT writer with many years of experience

United States

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