Increasing reports of side effects from cosmetics

(CBS NEWS) -- When you purchase a new eye shadow or shampoo, you expect those products will be safe and that they won't cause skin breakouts -- or worse.

But new research found that's not always the case. And, because cosmetics are woefully underregulated in the United States, and there's no solid system in place to catch when personal care products are harmful, it's possible you'll never hear about a problem with a product, the study suggested.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration complaints database contains only 5,144 adverse events between 2004 and 2016 reported in connection with cosmetics, noted the study's senior author Dr. Steve Xu. He's a dermatologist with Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

"Here is a $400 billion industry with millions of products and multiple controversies, but we only had about 5,000 adverse events over the course of 12 years," Xu said. "That's very, very underreported."

Just one case alone shows how badly underreported health problems related to cosmetics are, Xu said.

In 2014, the FDA opened an investigation into a shampoo/conditioner called WEN after directly receiving 127 customer reports of problems such as hair loss, brittle hair, bald patches, itching and rashes, Xu and his colleagues said in their report.

In the course of the investigation, the FDA learned that WEN's manufacturer, Chaz Dean Cleansing Solutions, had privately received 21,000 complaints of hair loss and scalp irritation, the study authors said.

MORE: Read/watch the full story at CBSNEWS.com

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