Chemicals to avoid - Phthalates
Primary function – Softener in cosmetics, ingredient to fix fragrances, hold color in hair color productsPhthalates are found in fragranced products or perfumes - they help make the scents last longer. Phthalates are also used to soften cosmetics, in shampoos or hair treatments to hold hair color. They are absorbed by skin, enter your body and disrupt hormones and the male reproductive system, leading to lower sperm counts and even thyroid irregularities. Studies conducted by Shanna Swan PhD, concluded exposure to phthalates during pregnancy impaired production of male (testosterone) hormone of their sons and the way their genitals developed. Another study with women indicated that phthalate exposure of pregnant women (phthalate exposure during pregnancy) impacted the normal boy-play (boys will be boys) behaviour of their young (3-6 yr) sons. Although certain types of phthalates are banned in children’s toys, they are still found in cosmetics – in fragrances.
Phthalates are hard to detect in an ingredient list because they can hide under the term - fragrance. If they’re used in fragrances, fragrance components are considered proprietary so companies are not required to list constituent ingredients. So if you’re intent on avoiding phthalates in your daily life, look for a specific statement that indicates that the product is free of phthalates. If you really like a product but cannot tell for sure, it might even be worth the effort to contact the company to confirm. Examples of phthalates - Diethyl phthalate (DEP), Di-n-butyl phthalate.