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, and they’re often used to keep things pliable.  For example, they were commonly used in nail polish to prevent the polish from cracking and make it less brittle.  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.  Most of these studies showing that phthalates can affect the reproductive system have been done on animals, so we still aren’t exactly sure what effects they have on humans, but there are certainly concerns that they might not only disrupt hormones, but they might be carcinogenic and might even play a role in obesity and diabetes.  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 ingredient list.  So I like to tell my patients to look for “phthalate free” on the label or on the brand website to be sure it’s not sneaking its way into your product without your even knowing it.

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


Dr. Whitney