Phthalates (pronounced f-THAL-lates) are a group of chemicals commonly used to render plastics soft and flexible. Phthalates are choice ingredients in cosmetics because they are cheap and versatile. For example, the phthalate DEP, is widely used in cosmetic fragrances to make the scent linger.
“One way to avoid phthalates is to stay away from fragrances.” advises Jessica. “Phthalates are a common component of fragrances—even those labeled ‘natural fragrance,’ but are often not listed as an ingredient on a product label. Please take the time to seek out products that claim “no synthetic fragrance” and “scented only with pure essential oils.”
They are found in a wide variety of common products including:
- Baby care products
- Cleaning materials
Phthalates are readily absorbed through the skin and are known to be endocrine (hormone) disrupting. Phthalates have also been linked to birth defects, asthma, neurodevelopmental problems in newborns, fertility issues and obesity. Though phthalates are banned in children’s toys, they can still be found in some school supplies, cosmetics and personal care products such as perfumes, nail polish and shampoo.