Ingredient Spotlight : Phthalates

  • Posted: October 24, 2012 
  • by Lisa DL   -  

What is hiding in your fragrance?

What is hiding in your ‘fragrance’?

When a personal care product lists ‘fragrance’ as one of it’s ingredients, run for the hills (and leave the product behind); for hiding there is another ingredient that we are better off with out.

Phthalates (Pronounced THAlates)

Phthalates are used to moisturize as well as to help chemicals absorb into the skin.

It will show up as dibutyl phthalate in nail polish – being one of the ingredients ‘non-toxic’ nail polishes do not contain, by the way. (My favorite non-toxic polish brand is Butter London. Oh, my goodness, the eye-candy that it is!)

However, it may not show up at all on most of your cosmetic & personal care product ingredient labels since companies are not required to list the ingredients in fragrance mixtures, and that is where it is hiding, inside the ‘fragrance’ mixture.

We are not only talking of your favorite perfume either.

It is most likely to be in most anything that contains artificial fragrance, especially cosmetics and body care products.

But get this, and this is important, this does not mean, however, that if a product has an aroma, it has phthalates in it. It may be that it contains cucumber, hence has the scent of cucumber, or contains the true essence of lavender and so hints of lavender. THAT is a good thing and can have therapeutic value.

It is the synthetic fragrance that you want to avoid.

Synthetic fragrance mixtures are where you will find phthalates, and phthalates can interfere with hormones in the body, posing potential risks to the reproductive and thyroid systems. Do not let your children near them.

So, if your product lists the word ‘fragrance’ on your label, pass it up.

Because phthalates are found in many everyday plastic products (it softens plastic) some exposure is unavoidable.
One good way to reduce your exposure is  is to choose phthalate-free cosmetics and body care products.
Choose products that do not list “fragrance’ as an ingredient and nail polish that does not contain dibutyl phthalate.
You could also choose fragrance free cleaning products, and of course, use less plastic.
This is part of a series of five posts about ingredients to avoid in personal care products. You may also be interested in previous conversations about parabenstriclosanphthalates and benzophenone-3

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