Men’s use of personal care products has doubled since 2004, according to new consumer survey

New survey and analysis reveal trends in the use of personal care products and chemical exposures in the U.S.

 WASHINGTON – The average adult man in the U.S. uses 11 different personal care products each day – nearly twice as many as 20 years ago – according to a survey by Morning Consult. And some of these products use ingredients linked to serious health harms.

The Environmental Working Group commissioned the independent research company to survey 2,200 adults in the U.S. about their use of personal care products. The results were analyzed by EWG and compared to their groundbreaking 2004 study of cosmetics product use.

The new survey revealed that the average adult uses 12 personal care products in a day. And EWG’s analysis of the data found that these 12 products could be made with as many as 112 unique chemical ingredients, some of which may pose serious health risks.

The survey also showed that on average, women use 13 products daily, up from 12 in 2004. And the average man uses 11, up from six in 2004. 

“Our concern is that the safety of ingredients is still assessed one at a time, which doesn't match how consumers are exposed to consumer products, dozens at a time and over a lifetime,” said Homer Swei, Ph.D., EWG senior vice president, Healthy Living Science.

Ingredients linked to health harms

The analysis showed that U.S. consumers are exposed, on average, every day to two ingredients linked to cancer and to two linked to chemicals that can harm reproductive and development systems. Consumers are also exposed to 15 fragrance chemicals a day, seven of which are chemicals that could cause an allergic reaction.

“Many of the ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products are also found in other consumer products. When industry declares ‘safe as used,’ they are not looking at the reality of the total amount or how often people are being exposed across all products they bring into their homes,” said Swei.

Despite consumers’ use of more individual products in their daily routine, EWG found that the number of unique chemicals they’re exposed to has decreased. The 2004 survey found people were being exposed to 126 individual chemical ingredients in personal care products a day, 14 more than in the new survey.

“Consumers are exposed to potentially hundreds of chemicals a day through multiple sources of exposure from many different kinds of consumer products,” said Sydney Swanson, EWG Healthy Living Science analyst. “But one positive finding of our analysis is that the number of chemicals in personal care products seems to be trending down.”

Consumers are better educated today, and they are asking manufacturers for cleaner products. The survey found that a large majority of adults – 85 percent – are concerned about the safety of ingredients across all product categories included in the questions.  

Many are doing their own independent research to find better products for themselves and their families. EWG’s Skin Deep database has seen 41,375,816 page views so far this year compared to just 33,199,322 in the entirety of 2007. 

To help people looking for products without harmful ingredients, EWG created its coveted EWG VERIFIED® mark for products free from chemicals of concern that meet EWG’s strictest standards for health. But the onus should not be on consumers – better regulation is needed. 

Regulation of personal care products

States have led the way in regulating the personal care industry. After more than 80 years of federal inaction, California banned 24 chemicals from use in personal care products in 2020 with the landmark Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act. In 2022, California prohibited the entire class of PFAS from being added to cosmetics.

Assembly Bill 496, authored by California Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), was introduced in the California legislature this session. The bill would ban the sale of cosmetics and other personal care products that contain 26 additional chemicals known to harm human health.

At the federal level, the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 was signed into law by President Joe Biden as part of the spending bill. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration can now require manufacturers to report serious health problems caused by cosmetics. 

The law also requires companies to keep records showing product safety and labeling of fragrance allergens for all cosmetics, among other stringent new requirements. The 2022 law also requires the FDA to standardize tests for asbestos in products containing talc.

“These reforms were urgently needed and long overdue,” said Melanie Benesh, EWG vice president of government affairs. “Cosmetics have been some of the least regulated consumer products for too many years.” 

“Consumers will now have more information when purchasing cosmetics, since fragrance allergens will now be listed on product labels. But the hard work of ensuring consumers are fully protected from harmful ingredients will fall to the states, which can continue to ban toxic chemicals from cosmetics.”

Consumers looking to limit their exposure to harmful cosmetics ingredients can consult EWG’s Skin Deep database and search through over 92,000 personal care products for options with a lower hazard rating. They can also look for products with the EWG VERIFIED® mark, or download EWG’s Healthy Living app for when they’re on the go.


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action 

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