Photo credit: vegansociety.com
We have to deal with a common ingredient, found in most cosmetics, beauty and personal care products.
Phthalates (pronounced as f-thal-lates) is a hard-to-spell-and-pronounce chemical compounds that are used to make plastics flexible and as lubricants in cosmetics. It can be found in perfume, hair spray, anything fragranced (shampoo, air fresheners, laundry detergent) and nail polish. It’s a nightmare when it’s unlikely for one to be able to see Phthalates listed on a label.
About a billion pounds of phthalates are produced every year and 95% of people have detectable levels of phthalates in their urine! Gasp! It’s a challenge for practicing clean beauty lovers.
As a result of this omnipresence (it’s like they are everywhere), we are all inhaling, ingesting, and absorbing phthalate through our skin, which quickly moves to our bloodstream. There must be a better way to limit this to our body.
There are four types of Phthalates:
- Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)
Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) is used as a plasticizer in products such as nail polishes in order to reduce cracking by making the nails less brittle.
- Diethyl Phthalate (DEP)
Diethyl Phthalate (DEP) is used as a solvent and fixative in fragrances and to denature alcohol where it renders alcoholic products that is unfit for oral consumption.
- Dimethyl Phthalate (DMP)
Dimethyl Phthalate (DMP) is used in hair sprays to avoid stiffness hence allowing it to form a flexible film on the hair.
- Di (2-ethylhexyl phthalate) (DEHP)
This type of Phthalate is the most common member of the class of Phthalates. It is colourless, odourless, and the liquid is more soluble in materials such as paint removers, gasoline, and oils. However, it has no history of use in cosmetics and personal care products.
Over the years, there were studies done on the usage of phthalates and how it affect our body and health. Phthalates are known to be endocrine (hormone) disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females.
Phthalates can enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations, can cause developmental defects where it changes the testes and prostate, reduced sperm counts, interferes hormone function, and as a toxic reproduction where Phthalates can cause harm to the unborn child and impair fertility. Not only that, young children who sucked or chewed products that contain phthalates for extended periods may cause liver and kidney failure.
Although it’s impossible to avoid every single product that uses phthalates, since it is rare to see phthalates listed on a product label, but there are ways on how to avoid phthalates!
- Look for clues such as “no synthetic fragrance”, “scented with only essential oils” or “phthalate-free”.
- Look for plastic with recycling codes 1, 2, and 5 only, as plastics with recycling codes 3 and 7 contain Phthalates.
- Avoid hand-me-down plastic toys. In year 2009, several types of phthalates are banned from children’s toys, teethers, bottles, and feeding products. However, these laws only took place in 2009 which means anything that was made of soft plastic (e.g rubber duckies) that was manufactured before may contain phthalates.
Again, we can do our part in limiting the amount of phthalates our body is exposed to! Educate and find out more before buying to make informed decision on what we should be applying to our body.
Think of something we absolutely love, and the time and energy we apply to it. Use the same, when it comes to our health. If not now, then when?
Make clean beauty a choice!