30 June 2009

Why are Phthalates bad?

Ever seen 'phthalate' listed on a cosmetic ingredient list? Probably not - they aren't required to be listed under ingredients in many countries. So why are they in your cosmetic products like perfume, nail polish, moisturisers and hair spray? They are there because they fix scent, that is, they make it last longer in its original intended form without degradation. They are also found in many other products, that can be found in the home, such as kid's toys, functioning as plasticizers in the plastic - to make it soft. However, we are concerned about them in cosmetic products because of the skin's ability to absorb all manner of chemicals and ingredients put on them. Studies show that your skin can absorb up to 90% of a given chemical that is topically applied - in other words, it is a giant sponge. Phthalates and parabens can show up in the urine a mere 20 minutes after application of a cosmetic or body care product that contains them. It depends on the chemical of course - and phthalates are one group that readily absorbs into the body.

Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors and estrogen mimics. For this alone, one would want to avoid them where possible. They've also been linked to metabolic disorders and hepatocarcinogenicity.
When choosing a cosmetic product, natural really does matter. There are alternatives - just because it isn't listed on the label, doesn't mean that it is absent. The next time you are in your favourite bath and body products shop, ask if your favourite product contains phthlates, then you can make an informed decision. Natural Matters!

For more information, check out www.nottoopretty.org, the source of the image to the right, and the report on phthalates, by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

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