Endocrine Disruptors: Phthalates and other toxic ingredients
This yucky stuff is messing with your body.
What are endocrine disruptors, and where are they found? Uncovering phthalates, artificial fragrance, and other toxic ingredients in skincare products.
Have you ever stopped to think about what’s really in your sunscreen, skincare, or cleaning products? Or what’s in that candle that smells like a sugary dessert? Get ready because we’re about to give you the dirt on endocrine disruptors.
What are endocrine disruptors?
Endocrine disruptors are bad chemicals that interfere with the normal functioning of our hormones, leading to tons of health problems. This nasty impact includes anything from reproductive issues to developmental delays, and they lurk in everyday products!
Good news: There are plenty of ways to reduce your exposure to endocrine disruptors.
What is your endocrine system?
Let’s get science–y for a minute. The endocrine system is a network of glands that create hormones in your body. Hormones are basically chemical messengers that help regulate things like…
💪 Growth and development
❤️🔥 Reproduction and sexual function
⚡️ Metabolism and energy balance
🫀 Blood pressure and heart rate
😄 Mood and behavior
The hypothalamus (a small brain region) leads this system. It not only controls your body’s temperature, appetite, and blood pressure, but also regulates the release of hormones from the pituitary gland.
The hormones released by the pituitary gland control the other glands in the endocrine system, like the thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries, and pancreas. The pituitary gland also releases Oxytocin and endorphins—those feel-good hormones. 🥰
The endocrine system functions like a thermostat: Just as a thermostat turns on the heat or AC until your home reaches the set temperature, your endocrine system senses the amount of each hormone in your blood and will increase ☝️ or decrease 👇 production until it’s back at the needed level. Cool, right?
This system is super complex and sensitive to being thrown out of balance. When things are out of whack, you don’t feel so hot. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can cause major imbalances.
What do endocrine disruptors do?
Now that we know what endocrine disruptors are… What do they do to your body?
Endocrine disruptors can:
🙅♀️ Block the pathway between a natural hormone and a receptor.
🧪 Alter production, causing a gland to over or under produce.
🥸 Mimic a natural hormone, so your body reacts at the wrong time or the wrong way.
Basically, they interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system. Using the thermostat analogy, imagine the temperature sensor becomes damaged, and your thermostat doesn’t know how much to heat or cool your house.
Endocrine disruptors have even been linked to serious health issues such as ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, metabolic disorders, diabetes, infertility and other reproductive disorders, and cancer.
It’s clear—you don’t want to mess with your endocrine system.
Let’s look at some of the common endocrine disruptors and where we find them. You should avoid these wherever possible!
What are parabens and where are they found?
Parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics, food, and drugs to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. They are most often found in personal care products like sunscreen, shampoo and conditioner, and cosmetics.
Parabens are usually listed under names such as isopropylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.
The dangers of parabens
Parabens are endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen in the body, impacting the male and female reproductive system, and have even been linked to breast cancer. They also aren’t regulated by the FDA. Yikes. 😰
What are Benzophenones and where are they found?
Benzophenone is added to products to protect them from the effects of UV ☀️ light to maintain the color or scent. It’s found in personal care products like lip balm, food packaging, and cleaning products. Derivatives of benzophenone like oxybenzone are commonly used in sunscreen.
The dangers of Benzophenones
There are mixed results from animal studies, but most agree that these ingredients can disrupt the endocrine system by mimicking estrogen and binding to estrogen receptors in the body. Benzophenone is also listed by California EPA’s Proposition 65 as a possible human carcinogen. Benzophenone and oxybenzone are both persistent, toxic, and accumulate in your body over time. Yuck. 😵💫
What are Bisphenols and where are they found?
Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, is a chemical commonly used in plastics and resins like food and drink containers. BPA can seep into food and beverages from the internal coatings of canned food, plastic water bottles, and food containers. This chemical is widespread: A national study conducted by the CDC found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of the population. 😬
The dangers of Bisphenols
Bisphenol A disrupts the endocrine system by binding to estrogen receptors in the body. This is linked to an increased risk of hormone-related cancers, such as ovary, breast, and prostate cancer, and can also induce resistance to various chemotherapies.
What are Phthalates and where are they found?
Phthalates are used to make plastics more durable or to help dissolve other ingredients. Phthalates are found in plastic packaging and personal care products like soaps and hairspray, and in added fragrances like in scented candles and skincare.
The dangers of Phthalates
Phthalates can impact gene expressions and cause physiological changes. Studies have shown a significant link between phthalate exposure and insulin resistance, allergies, asthma, Type II diabetes, and adverse reproductive outcomes in men and women, such as earlier menopause and preterm birth. A 2012 study found that 10% of pregnant women were negatively impacted by phthalates.
Artificial Fragrance in skincare products
Did you know that artificial fragrance is not regulated by the FDA the same way as other ingredients in cosmetics and skincare? This means that companies can use whatever combination of nasty chemicals they want to create a scent and most of us don’t even know about this!
Artificial fragrances are known irritants, and are not only the biggest cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis, but also can induce skin sensitivity and skin allergies. The risks are huge, and big beauty isn’t transparent about these negative impacts.
How can you protect yourself from endocrine disruptors?
If it weren’t clear by now, it’s important to avoid endocrine disruptors in your skincare, home, and life. So, what can you do to protect yourself? Read labels carefully. If you see "fragrance" or "parfum" listed as an ingredient, leave it on the shelf.
Even easier… Find trusted brands that never include added fragrances or other toxins (like us!). Some of us are trying to do better by consumers. 💛 No artificial scents here!
Shop our collection to see how simple, natural ingredients can transform your skin so you can ✨ glow ✨ inside and out. Because you deserve better.