Are your personal care products disrupting hormonal balance?

by georgia hartman

Women’s Health Expert

women’s  health expert

The endocrine system is a group of glands distributed throughout the body (as demonstrated in the image below) that produce hormones for normal bodily function. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are group of chemicals that interfere with the action of hormones. [3]


Phthalates Are An ‘endocrine-disrupting Chemical’

Phthalates are a class of man-made chemicals widely used in cosmetics and personal care products. (By widely used, I mean over 6 million tons are produced worldwide every year). [1-2]

In their pure form, phthalates are colorless, odorless, oily liquids. During their use, phthalates are leached into the environment (due to non-covalently bonds) allowing for ubiquitous human exposure through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact. [2]

Phthalates Cause Hormonal Imbalance

As phthalates interfere with hormonal balance, constant exposure (particularly from your personal care products) is associated with:

  • Early puberty (which may not sound problematic, but longer exposure to hormones such as oestrogen might increase the risk of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast and ovarian cancers). [4]
  • Endometriosis [5]
  • Shorter luteal phase (second half of your cycle) [6]
  • Fibroids [7]
  • Early menopause (affecting fertility and quality of life) [8]
  • Reduced fertilization rates and poorer blastocyst quality (when undergoing IVF) [9]

Personal Care Products That Contain Phthalates

  • Body wash
  • Moisturiser
  • Cleanser
  • Body lotion
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Perfumes
  • Hairsprays
  • Nail polish
  • Makeup

Avoid These Chemicals In Your Personal Care Products

If phthalates are present in your personal care products, they are likely to be labelled as one or more of the following and are best avoided:

  • DBP (dibutylphthalate)
  • DEP (diethylphthalate)
  • DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate)
  • DiBP (diisobutyl phthalate)
  • DMP (dimethyl phthalate)
  • DnBP (dinbutyl phthalate)
  • MBP (mononbutyl phthalate)
  • MCPO (monocarboxyoctyl phthalate)
  • Phthalate

[1] Cao, M., et al. Urinary levels of phthalate metabolites in women associated with risk of premature ovarian failure and reproductive hormones. Chemosphere, 2020. 242. PMID: 31678849. 

[2] Golestanzadeh, M., et al. Association of phthalate exposure with precocious and delayed pubertal timing in girls and boys: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, 2020. PMID: 32091510.

[3] Gore, A.C., et al. EDC-2: The Endocrine Society’s Second Scientific Statement on Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. Endocrine Reviews, 2015. 36(6). PMID: 26544531.
[4] Poursafa, P., et al. A systematic review on the effects of environmental exposure to some organohalogens and phthalates on early puberty. Journal of Research inMedical Sciences, 2015. 20(6). PMID: 26600838.

[5] Kim, S.H., et al. Increased plasma levels of phthalate esters in women with advanced-stage endometriosis: a prospective case-control study. Fertility & Sterility, 2011. 95(1). PMID: 20797718.
[6] Jukic, A.M., et al. Urinary Concentrations of Phthalate Metabolites and Bisphenol A and Associations with Follicular-Phase Length, Luteal-Phase Length, Fecundability, and Early Pregnancy Loss. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2016. 124(3). PMID: 26161573.

[7] Zota, A.R., et al. Phthalates exposure and uterine fibroid burden among women undergoing surgical treatment for fibroids: a preliminary study. Fertility & Sterility, 2019. 111(1). PMID: 30447935.

[8] Grindler, N.M., et al. Persistent organic pollutants and early menopause in U.S. women. PLoS One, 2015. 10(1). PMID: 25629726.

[9] Deng, T., et al. The associations of urinary phthalate metabolites with the intermediate and pregnancy outcomes of women receiving IVF/ICSI treatments: A prospective single-center study. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 2020. 30. PMID: 31706241.

by georgia hartman

Women’s Health Expert

2 thoughts on “Are your personal care products disrupting hormonal balance?”

  1. Great post! Are there any beauty products that you would recommend to use?

  2. Georgia Hartmann

    Hi Kristy – yes! My favourite is Studium Essentials. No chemicals and all products are in glass!

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