There are some things we all know aren't safe for children: hot stoves, electrical plugs, the medicine cabinet. But according to a study published this morning in the Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, the seemingly-harmless beauty products you keep on the bathroom counter could be just as dangerous.
Based on data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, researchers found that every two hours, a child under the age of 5 is sent to the emergency room due to injuries caused by products that "cleanse, beautify, promote attractiveness, or alter appearance." These include things like nail polish, makeup, skin moisturizers, deodorants, and hair care products.
Here are some of the key findings from the study—plus how to keep your own kids (and beloved beauty products) safe.
Which beauty products are the most dangerous?
According to the study results, nail care products were the most likely to cause harm, accounting for 28 percent of all injuries, with nail polish remover being the worst offender. Behind that were hair products at 27 percent and skin care products at 25 percent.
Additionally, children who suffered from unintentional exposure to hair care products like relaxers or permanent solution were three times more likely to be hospitalized, often with chemical burns.
Why are these products so harmful to kids?
"Kids this age can't read, so they don't know what they are looking at," one of the study's co-authors, Rebecca McAdams, told CBS News. "They see a bottle with a colorful label that looks or smells like something they are allowed to eat or drink, so they try to open it and take a swallow. When the bottle turns out to be nail polish remover instead of juice, or lotion instead of yogurt, serious injuries can occur."
Researchers report that nearly 3 in 4 of the injuries were caused by a child swallowing the product. The remainder were from the product coming into contact with the child's skin or eyes.
How can I keep products safe from children?
The first step is to childproof your home as thoroughly as possible. Store your beauty products well out of reach of tiny hands (that includes off of counters that they may be able to get to by climbing up) and consider putting child safety locks on any cabinets or drawers that contain potentially harmful items.
Our Parenting Editor, Anna Lane, who's also a mom herself, advises, "Utilize the top shelf of every cabinet and get clear storage boxes from the container store that have lids. Once kids get older they'll be able to get on a stool and open up the boxes, but by then they'll be old enough to understand what they are and are not allowed to use."
Lane is also strategic about the areas of the house where she stores cosmetics and similar products. "I also keep the majority of my cosmetics in my bedroom (as opposed to our shared bathroom)," she says, explaining that it's "a place where they don't really play or hang out alone anyway." Additionally, the American Association of Poison Control Centers recommends keeping toiletries in their original containers so that if a child does ingest them, you'll know exactly what chemicals and ingredients were in the product.