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The study on health risk and cosmetology information: a study of Nigerian female university student’s attention on cosmetic label information has been carried. The word Cosmetology is derived from Greek word kosmētikos, meaning “beautifying” and it is the study and application of beauty treatment. A branch of specialty includes hairstylingskincare, cosmetics, manicures/pedicures, and electrology. The sophisticated nature of consumer and government regulation on advert claim and label of cosmetic product seem not to be accorded great importance. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States emphasized full disclosure of nano-particles of cosmetic products content. This is because it reduces wrinkles on aging skin, but has adverse effect on other parts of human body, which consumer might not be aware. The study adopted some research questions to guide the work such as: What is the content of the information about the health risks available to the consumer’s choice of cosmetic products among the Nigeria University girl’s students, To what extent does the relationship between the labeling and consumer choice of cosmetic products matter to the consumers/users of the particular cosmetics products, What is the relationship between the quality of the package materials and the consumer choice of cosmetic products and How do the media contribute to the control of the indulgence of these undergraduates into cosmetology products? The survey method was adopted with a sample of 350 females selected from various environments to seek their responses on the subject matter. At the end of the investigation, the study gathered that there is a significant relationship between the package colour and consumer choice of cosmetic products even though the consumer is aware of the health implications. The entire result generated from the research showed a significant awareness on the health risks attributed to usage but none has accepted to completely abstain from its usage completely.




Cosmetology is derived from Greek word; κοσμητικός, kosmētikos, meaning “beautifying” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 2006) and -λογία, -logia) is the study and application of  beauty treatment.

A branch of specialty includes hairstylingskincare, cosmetic, manicures/pedicures, and electrology. A cosmetologist is someone who is an expert in the care of makeup as well as skincare and beauty products. He or she can also offer other services such as coloring, extensions, and straightening. Cosmetologists’ help their clients improve on or acquire a certain look with the right hairstyle. Hair stylists often style hair for weddings, proms, and other special events in addition to routine hair styling. Some well-known schools for cosmetologists in the world today includes but are not limited to the Marissa Montoya Academy, Regency, Marinello Schools of Beauty, and also Empire beauty school. At these beauty schools students learn to cut and style hair, execute manicures and pedicures, and apply cosmetics. There are numerous techniques required to successfully achieve each desired look of the customer. Typical cosmetology school lasts around a year or a little less. Full-time salon professionals earn average salaries of approximately $48,000 with the potential of even greater earnings (Schmaling & Susanne, 2011).



Cosmetics are substances that are rubbed, poured, sprinkled or introduced into the human body for purposes of cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering appearance (Kasture et al., 2008). The use of cosmetics is widely spread for routine body care including the care of skin, hair, nails and teeth (Chauhan et al., 2010). A wide range of cosmetic products exist including creams, emulsions, lotions, gels, oils, face masks, tinted bases, make up powders, toilet soaps, perfumes, shower and bath preparations, deodorants and antiperspirants, depilatories, hair care products and shaving products (Anton, 2005). Depending on the ingredients with which they are made from, cosmetics can either be herbal (those of natural origin and are made of ingredients that are gentler and less likely to be harmful) or synthetic (those which are conventional and made of ingredients likely to be harmful) (Conors and Altshuler, 2009).

Among the most commonly used skin cosmetics are those made of ingredients such as formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing ingredients, hydroquinone, parabens and phthalates which could be harmful to human body (Baumann, 2009). There are a number of herbal cosmetics in use with the most preferred ones being Aloe vera, neem and olive oil. These are more preferred because they are mild, biodegradable and have low toxicity profile (Chanchal et al., 2008). Neem is the most useful traditional medicinal plant (Imam et al., 2012). It contains active compounds among them alkaloids, lavonoids, triterpenoids, phenolic compounds, carotenoids, steroids and ketones (Imam et al., 2012). It has been found to be useful in personal care products such as skin care, nail care and hair care among others (Imam et al., 2012). Other uses of neem are therapeutic and medicinal. Therapeutic uses include treating scalp conditions such as dandruff, acne, nail fungus and restoring brittle nails and also fungal infections such as ringworms, infected sores and burns. Neem also provides relieve for skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis as well as healing of wounds, (Debjit et al., 2010).

Figure 1 Different types of cosmetics, Source: (Mills, 1959).

The adverse effects of heavy metals such as arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), lead (Pd), mercury (Hg), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn) and nickel (Ni) are documented (Duruibe et al., 2007; Banfalvi, 2011). Heavy metals toxicity can result to damaged or reduced mental and central nervous function, lower energy levels and damage to blood composition, lungs, liver, kidneys and other vital organs (Linnila, 2000). Repeated long term contact with some of these heavy metals or their compounds may cause cancer, contact dermatitis and skin irritation which are caused by Cr, Ni and Co (Linnila, 2000; Omolaoye et al., 2010).Their exposure however, continues and is even increasing particularly in less developed countries (Jarup, 2003). Among the medicinal uses are anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, antimalarial, antiarthritic, spermicidal, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective and antioxidant which are brought about by compounds that have a biological activity. The compounds include salannin, volatile oils, meliantriol, nimbin, nimbinin, nimbidol and tannin (Debjit et al., 2010; Imam et al., 2012). Olive oil is another herb used in pharmacy, as anti infammatory as well as antioxidants due to the presence of phenolic compounds, triterpenes and mannitol among others. (Perez et al., 2005) Out of over 3,700 species of Aloe vera, two species (Aloe barbadensis Miller and Aloeaborescens) are most commonly used due to their medicinal nature. It plays an important role on the skin that would result into preventing penetration of UV-light, and is the key in wound healing and skin repair. Aloe vera cosmetics are available in the market in the form of lotions, creams, soaps and shampoos (Basmatker et al., 2011; Haque et al., 2012). Worth noting is that like any other plant, Aloe vera plant will absorb heavy metals from the soil in large quantities (Rai et al., 2011). For example in China 60 percent of cosmetics and other product were recalled because of the presence of heavy metals in levels toxic to human in the products (Mary, 2007). It is in light of these that products in the market undergo quality control checks to ascertain the levels of heavy metals in them (Oyelakin et al., 2010). In Nigeria, the productions of cosmetics undergo a quality control check by the Nigerian Standard Organization (NSO) and NAFDAC but at the point of labeling, it is observed that neither the presence nor the levels of the heavy metals are indicated. NAFDAC has a set of the maximum permissible limits (ppm) of heavy metals in cosmetics among them: Pb (2), Cd (2) and Hg (0.1). On the other hand, the World Health Organisation (WHO), sets the limits (ppm) of heavy metals set in cosmetics as follows: Hg (1) Pb (10) and Cd (0.3) (WHO, 1995). Heavy metals can be absorbed into the organism through the skin and can be detected in sweat, blood and urine within periods of between six hours to 45 days of skin application (Sin and Tsang, 2003; Omolaoye et al., 2010). Moist skin particularly promotes absorption of water soluble toxic elements and their compounds into the body (Omolaoye et al., 2010). As such, continuous use of cosmetics may result in an increase in the heavy metal levels beyond acceptable limits (Nnorom et al., 2005; Chauhan et al., 2010). Due to the harmful effects of heavy metals to man, the possibility of their presence in herbal cosmetics warrant investigation (Chauhan et al., 2010).The quest for beauty has tended to promote the use of cosmetics by men and women. In spite of the profound interest in heavy metal hazards of cosmetics (Abdel-Fattah and Pingitore Jr, 2009  Al-Saleh, 2009), very little attention has been given to metal contamination of cosmetic products in Nigeria and most sub-Saharan African countries (Ayenimo, 2010). According to Health Canada, 100% of all cosmetics product tested positive for nickel and over 90% tested positive for both lead and beryllium and on the average contained at least 4 of the 8 metals of concern (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, beryllium, nickel, selenium, and thallium) (Health Canada, 2011). Toxic metals content in cosmetic products is prohibited or at least restricted in regulations of many countries; however, the regulations are inconsistent and concentrations of metals permissible by particular regulations are different for various products and countries. Humans are exposed simultaneously or consecutively to large numbers of chemicals of diverse structures from various sources and via multiple routes (Kroes, et al., 2007). Cosmetics especially the skin lightening types are widely used in most African countries, especially by women. Since these products are used for long duration, on a large body surface area and under hot humid conditions, percutaneous absorption is enhanced (Slodownik, Lee, and Nixon, 2008). The complications of these products can be serious. Some studies have documented an association between some ingredients of cosmetics and various health problems (Slodownik, Lee, and Nixon, 2008). Females are at greater health risk in developing countries due to inadequate nutrition, unhealthy lifestyle, and environmental deterioration (Batra and Seth, 2002). Physiological changes also can alter the bioaccumulation pattern of these metals in female body. Most of the metals act as endocrine disrupters interfering with female hormonal system (Iavicoli, Fontana, and Bergamaschi,).In recent years, the safety of cosmetic products has garnered considerable public attention because of the potentially harmful compounds included in them, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Public concerns were raised after the European Union passed laws restricting the use of potentially harmful compounds in cosmetic products (The European Parliament, 2003). Despite the heavy use of personal care products, the cosmetic industry is largely unregulated in the United States (Brown, 1987 and FDA, 2008). Health concerns have been particularly pronounced for cosmetology workers who provide hair and nail care services because they are exposed daily to an array of potentially hazardous compounds associated with nearly every hair and nail care service they provide.The cosmetology industry in the United States is composed mainly of cosmetologists (who provide hair and nail care services) and manicurists (who provide nail care services only) and has been one of the fastest growing professions in the nation. California has led the way with over 300,000 technicians licensed to perform hair and nail care services since 1970 (Underwood, 2007). Recent industry estimates also show that a vast majority of cosmetology workers, particularly manicurists, are women (Nail technician demographics, 2006).Hair and nail care products may contain toxic and potentially hazardous ingredients in varying amounts, including solvents, plasticizers, resins, and acids (Roelofs, et al., 2008). Known and suspected carcinogenic compounds found in these cosmetic products include titanium dioxide, formaldehyde, benzoyl peroxide, and 1,4-dioxane (Slaga, et al., 1981 and Rudel, et al., 2007). Formaldehyde and titanium dioxide, found in low levels in nail care products, are known or suspected carcinogens (International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2006). Other compounds, such as benzoyl peroxide found in artificial nail products, are potentially linked to certain cancers on the basis of evidence from animal studies (Rudel, et al., 2007, 10). Hair products, such as dyes, relaxers, and removers, also contain impurities, such as 1,4-dioxane, a possible carcinogen (International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2006). Furthermore, acetone, toluene, paraben, and dibutyl phthalates are commonly found in hair and nail care products and have been shown to affect a woman’s endocrine system, which raises concerns regarding hormonally mediated cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer (Brown, 1987).Many of these chemicals are highly volatile, and most beauty salons are small workplaces with inadequate ventilation, serving to exacerbate workers’ occupational exposures (Roelofs, et al., 2008). The fact that cosmetic products are largely unregulated contributes to inadequate product labeling and limited safety information for cosmetology workers, which may in turn lead to higher exposure. Furthermore, the presence of numerous chemical compounds in beauty salons is likely to be continuous and mixed, the synergistic effects of which are largely unknown. Although exposure levels for individual compounds may be generally low by legal or recommended standards (many of which were established several decades earlier), multiple chemical and multiple routes of exposure (often via inhalation and skin absorption) combined with the inadequate ventilation underscore the need for systematic health assessments in this workforce.



The sophisticated nature of consumer and government regulation on advert claim and label of cosmetic product seem not to be accorded great importance. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States emphasized full disclosure of nano-particles of cosmetic products content. This is because it reduces wrinkles on aging skin, but has adverse effect on other parts of human body, which consumer might not be aware. All label must be truthful and not misleading and must disclose or material information, including any risk, but the situation seems not to exist in Nigeria context, many users run into different kinds of skin diseases due to probably inadequate information revealed by the cosmetic package colour used to package product seems to be used indiscriminately without recourse to what the peoples’ culture demand.

Some consumers are allergic to some colours irrespective of the quality of the product. It could be said that exist some colours that are very inappropriate for the packaging of cosmetic product. It could pose a challenge to the package designer and the marketer as well, which could lead to a down turn in patronage. Some consumers attach importance to the container or bottle used in packaging of some products. The material and quality of cosmetic package could be said to be friendly and harmful to the consumer as well as the environment, especially the use of glass and aerosols packages for perfumes and other body spray cosmetics. For the singles any container could be preferred but for the family consumers especially with little children, quality of material and safety could be of great importance for a cosmetic manufacturers treat with levity using inappropriate quality of packaging material for different classes and users of cosmetic products.

This study becomes necessary because most of the Nigerian University girls are so engrossed over the cosmetology outward information without indebt evaluation of the label specifications. The questions attached here that the study tries to investigate lies within the crux: who is responsible for the challenges behind these problems, the media, the regulatory bodies or the production companies? Based on these unanswered questions, the study is set to embark on this research entitled Health risk and cosmetology information: a study of Nigerian female University student’s attention on cosmetic label information.



The aim of this study was to identify and assess the possible Health risks and cosmetology information on the Nigerian female University students and evaluating their level of available information before them on the challenges surrounding cosmetic label information within and around the cosmetics environment and shops.

To achieve this aim, the study adopted the following objectives:

  • Collect subjective feedback from beauty technicians/cosmetologists about the range of treatments they carry out and the techniques they employ;
  • Assess the working postures and movements beauty technicians adopt whilst carrying out massage and spray tanning treatments;
  • Analyze the postures and movements using standardized tools such as Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA);
  • Consider the ergonomics design of the work in conjunction with best practice and HSE guidance;
  • Observe the practices of the beauty technicians when using equipment for spray tanning and look at the types of equipment used;
  • Take samples of solutions used in the spray tanning process for microbiological analysis;
  • Assess the potential for inhalation exposure to volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds;
  • Assess the exposure control strategy and associated ventilation arrangements: and
  • Make an assessment of the material safety data sheets of the solutions used for spray tanning.



The following research question shall serve as guide to this study:

  1. What is the content of the information about the health risks available to the consumer’s choice of cosmetic products among the Nigeria University girl’s students?
  2. To what extent does the relationship between the labeling and consumer choice of cosmetic products matter to the consumers/users of the particular cosmetics products?
  3. What is the relationship between the quality of the package materials and the consumer choice of cosmetic products?
  4. How do the media contribute to the control of the indulgence of these undergraduates into cosmetology products?



In order to maintain a sharp focus and direction for this study, some boundaries within which the investigation shall be carried out and beyond which the study will not extend, have been set out by the researcher. The boundaries are set out on the basis of Geography, Demography and Industry.


On the basis of geography, the study shall cover the three senatorial districts in Anambra State for a more comprehensive analysis. On the basis of demography, the study will focus on university girls between the ages 16 to 30 years which falls within the target undergraduate age bracket while on the industry; the study is limited to Health Sector, hazards and challenges that the future generation faces.

On the area of literature, theoretical works of some related study will be reviewed; empirical studies of both published works and related materials will equally be evaluated while particular attention will be given to conceptual frame work to ascertain the various concepts as conceived by various authors and researchers from this line of study.



This study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, this study will add immense value to and enrich the existing body of knowledge on the health risk associated with use of cosmetics by the Nigeria University Female students and the available information on the label of such cosmetics. Administratively, this work is relevant to the field of Mass communication and the emergent dynamic field of organized public awareness and image creation emphasizing specifically on the role played by the media over cosmetology in Nigeria. The study will help scholars in this field to develop new Communication theories on Health risk and cosmetology strategies by appreciating the existing methods of available agencies and regulatory bodies controlling the rate of usage and strategies and other related media approaches towards controlling some societal related issues to such methods.

Similarly, possible ways of improving on these methods can be identified. Furthermore, because of the obvious paucity of studies in this area, this work will stimulate further studies on the challenges in the control of students’ awareness and sensitization of paying attention to label information beforehand.  The study will also provide valuable information on the strengths and weaknesses of current strategies for family planning, child spacing and birth rate control by the Nigeria Government and other Non-governmental bodies. In addition, the study will serve as a reference material to the Nigeria government and other researchers alike.

It is anticipated that cosmetic manufactures would find it necessary and important to label whichever magnitude of level of heavy metals found in their products so that the users are well informed ahead of time in their use.



The study shall limit its findings to identifying the level of health risks associated with cosmetics and how they affect the Nigeria students especially the females. These relationships can be influenced to increase involvement and uptake of user’s safety and avoidance of environmental hazards among female undergraduates in Nigeria.

Heavy metals or their compounds can find their way into the final market products as impurities. However, labels on the packages of cosmetics sold in Kenya indicate neither the presence nor the levels of heavy metals. The strength of these findings therefore is to disseminate the fact that the some branded cosmetics contain some level of heavy metals. This does not therefore rule out the same in these products sold elsewhere in the country. This information is crucial for users of these cosmetics taking note that either continual use or using a combination of cosmetics would be detrimental especially to moist skin which allows some penetration and accumulation of heavy metals.



The following hypotheses were stated in a null form.

HO1: There is no significant relationship between the package colour and consumer choice of cosmetic products.

HO2: There is no significant relationship between the labeling and consumer choice of cosmetic products.

HO3: There is no significant relationship between the quality of the package materials and the consumer choice of cosmetic products.


  • Manicure –this treatment designed to improve the appearance of the hands and nails.
  • Pedicure –this treatment to improve the appearance of the feet, a pedicure usually incorporates a warm soak to relax the feet and softens the skin and finishes with a foot and or leg massage. Exfoliating and the use of rich creams and oils improve the skin condition.
  • Facial –a facial consists of several elements including, skin cleansing, exfoliation (removing surface dead skin cells), manual massage using different techniques is incorporated which may include; muscle manipulation, pressure point or lymph drainage massage.
  • Body Massage -may be defined as a series of non-invasive manual techniques that affect one or more structures of the body; muscles, joints, skin, fatty tissue, fasciae, blood and lymphatic vessels, in order to release pain, reduce swelling, enhance mobility of joints and alleviate emotional and mental tension


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