Personal Care Products: Watch Those Phthalates!

by Patricia S. Lemer, MEd, NCC


Yes, another family of toxic chemicals, pronounced, THAY-lates. Phthalates are plasticizers used to add texture and luster to hair spray, deodorant, nail polish, lipstick, perfumes and many other products. These ubiquitous chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled as fumes, and ingested if children mouth toys made out of plastic.

Hundreds of studies have shown that phthalates can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system. In pregnant women, phthalates pass through the placenta to be absorbed by the fetus. Later, they show up in the breast milk of nursing mothers, whose babies ingest them. In male fetuses and infants, phthalates can cause testicular atrophy, leading to a reduced sperm count.

As we learn more about the role of toxins in disease and developmental delays, reducing our toxic load must be a priority. Discover what toxins are lurking in the most commonly used baby products, cosmetics, deodorants, dental, eye, nail and skin care products, fragrances, and other personal care products, and switch to less toxic alternatives. Visit the Virtual Drugstore of the Environmental Working Group virtualdrugstore.php and prepare to be shocked at what is in your shopping cart!

We are grateful to the Environmental Working Group and to for the following information:

Phthalate-free Products from Popular Manufacturers

Remember, phthalates are just part of the story. Some of the above products contain other toxins, such as aluminum. To be extra careful, try these excellent brands:

More measures to reduce your toxic load:

Join the Safe Cosmetics Campaign. As of October 2005, over 200 companies had signed the "Compact for Safe Cosmetics," a pledge to remove chemicals linked to cancer, mutation, or birth defects, and to develop comprehensive chemical substitution plans that lead to safer formulations. Work directly with cosmetic manufacturers to encourage reformulations and safer ingredients.

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 11, Number 1 - Fall, 2005]

All material in this web site is given for information purposes only and is not to be substituted for advice from your health care provider.

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Page last modified: February 23, 2009
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