October 22, 2019Skincare

Clean Beauty Ingredients: Focus on Phthalates

I am loving how interested and invested you guys are in clean beauty and in what you are putting on your skin.

We’ve talked parabens. We’ve talked sulfates. Now, it’s time to focus on phthalates.

What are Phthalates?

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in plastics and cosmetics.  They’re used to keep things pliable, bendable.  For example, they were commonly used in nail polish to prevent the polish from cracking and make it less brittle (and still are found in some nail products).  They were also used in a lot of hair sprays to make your hair feel less stiff.

Are Phthalates Safe?

The concern with phthalates is that some studies suggest they are hormone disrupters and may even play a role in the incidence of obesity, decreased fertility, and some cancers.  One study conducted in 2007 looked levels of DEHP, a type of phthalate, in the urine of American men and found that men who were obese or insulin resistant had higher levels of DEHP in their urine.

How Can I Avoid Phthalates in the Products I Use?

Phthalates can sneak into cosmetic products under the term “fragrance,” without even being listed on the labels since “fragrance” doesn’t have to be fully disclosed on ingredient lists.  So I like to tell my patients to seek unfragranced/unscented products, or fragrances from companies that have committed to not using phthalates and to disclosing their ingredients. You can also look for “phthalate free” on the label or on the brand website.

As clean beauty becomes more prevalent, we will have so many options in terms of safer, more sustainable skincare. I love sharing this information with you, so stay tuned for more!


Dr. Whitney