Phthalates commonly used in cosmetics

(DBP) dibutylphthalate

(DMP) dimethylphthalate

(DEP) diethylphthalate

For a more definitive list of other commonly used Phthalates, see here.


What are they?

Phthalates are de-odorants or masking agents that are usually listed on a labels as “parfum” or “fragrance” – but can actually contain up to 500 hundred unknown, untested, harmful chemical compounds. They are primarily used as plasticizers in products such as nail polishes (to reduce cracking by making them less brittle), in hair sprays (to help avoid stiffness by allowing them to form a flexible film on the hair) and as solvents + perfume fixatives in various other products.


What are they it in?

Fragrance + Phthalates are present in everything including perfume, eye shadow, moisturizer, nail polish, liquid soap + hair spray. They are also used in a large variety of other health products, from enteric coatings of pharmaceutical pills + nutritional supplements to viscosity control agents, gelling agents, film formers, stabilizers, dispersants, lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents, suspending agents, detergents (dish, hand + laundry), surfactants, food products + packaging.


What’s the problem?

Nobody really knows what’s in it. Current regulations in the US do not require the listing of the individual fragrance ingredients; therefore, the consumer will not be able to determine from the ingredient list if phthalates are present in a fragrance. Fragrance also tends to contain allergens, sensitizers, neurotoxins + synthetic musks.

Phthalates are developmental, respiratory + immune system toxicants as well as probable neurotoxins, possible carcinogens + endocrine disruptors.

Studies show that women may be at higher risk for potential adverse health effects of phthalates due to increased cosmetic use that they have also been shown to cause proliferation of breast tumor cells, rendering anti-estrogen treatments like Tamoxifen, less effective against tumors.


Are they necessary?

No. Avoid these beauty-baddies like the plague! Healthier alternatives do exist. Luckily, due to health concerns, Phthalates are being phased out (not nearly fast enough) of many products in the US + Canada + are already banned in the European Union.


How to avoid them?

Look for products that contain natural ingredients or essential oils for scent, or have no added fragrance. Products listed as “unscented” may contain masking agents, which are chemicals used to cover up the odor of other chemicals. The only way to be sure that your products don’t contain Phthalates is to ask the manufacturer. Another option is to make your own beauty products – that way you can control the ingredients. Find carefully curated, clean beauty recommendations without these ingredients on The Glamorganic Godddess.



Sources here, (TTG), here, (COTD), here (Skin Deep), here (Wiki), here (FDA)

Copyright © 2013, Danielle Messina. Visit The Glamorganic Goddess for more info.

Unite for HER and author are not responsible for any specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision and are not liable for any damages or negative consequences from any treatment, action, application or preparation, to any person reading or following the information in this article. References are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute endorsement of any websites or other sources. Readers should be aware that the products listed in this article may change.