How to Read Labels on Personal Care Products: Phthalates

Our skin is the largest organ in our body and carries what we put on it to our bloodstream and into our cells.  This is why it’s important to educate yourself on ingredients to stay away from and make sure to read labels when purchasing products.

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I’ve been digging deeper into ingredients that can be harmful and why a company would choose to use them in their products.  There must be a reason why they are used.  I imagine many of you have heard that dyes, parabens, and other synthetic ingredients are not good for you but do you know which ones fall into which category and how they can be damaging?  It starts getting complicated and convoluted so I thought I would try to simplify and focus on phthalates this week.  Parabens, sulfates & dyes to come in future blogs.  My hope is that

  1. you’ll have a simplified understanding of reading a label and know what to look out for
  2. you’ll understand how they can be harmful
  3.  by only writing about one ingredient to avoid each blog you won’t get bored and confused reading about them all at once!

What are phthalates?

Pthalates are a liquid, odorless,  man-made chemical substance that are added to some plastics and cosmetics.

Why do some companies use phthalates?

They are added to plastic to give it more flexibility and used in cosmetics to extend the aromatic life in personal and household products.

Why are they harmful?

They have been linked to cancer, asthma, birth defects and reproductive problems especially in men.  Some studies show conflicting results with no side effects from phthalates.  I don’t know about you but I’d rather not have them in my products if even 1 study linked phthalates to any of those diseases.  It’s worth noting that they have been banned in 14 countries including the European Union.

What are some I can identify on a label?

DEP (diethyl phthalate) and MEP (monoethyl phthalate) are most commonly used in personal care products.  One point I found very interesting when I was researching is that by law companies can simply list “fragrance” to account for phthalates.  So I stay away from products that have the word “fragrance” in them. Also, if you’re not sure if a product contains phthalates, ask.  If you can’t get an answer, choose to buy from someone else.  There are many choices for phthalate-free products.

I hope you found this information simple and helpful.  My intention was to bring a simplified awareness without scaring anyone into a panic that they are going to get cancer because of their exposure to phthalates.  I think exposure to harmful chemicals is inevitable, but to what extent can be a choice if we’re educated.  Minimizing our exposure to phthalates is one way we can support a stronger, healthier and longer life.

If you are interested in reading more about phthalates, click on one of these links.
Zero Breast Cancer
Phthalates in Cosmetics & Beauty Products

Have you heard of phthalates, parabens or sulfates?  Do you know if your products contain phthalates?

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