Phthalates in Cosmetics? Big Deal!

In Beauty Basics Parts one, two, and three, I mentioned that my favourite Bella Terra Cosmetics products are not only paraben free, but they are also phthalate free!
I received a message from someone who was interested in purchasing more conscious products, without compromising on looking ”normal”.
It’s a great thing! You want to take better care of yourself, and not look like a typical Granola Head–Hey, more power to you.
Even though the chemistry of cosmetics is a really complicated game, I will do my best to explain everything as clearly, and basically as possible.
In order for you to understand the difficulty of avoiding this ingredient, it would be good for you to know that;
One billion tons of phthalates are produced worldwide each year, so avoiding this group of chemicals is pretty difficult, as they may be present even in our most prized cosmetics.

What in the world is a phthalate?

General structure of phthalates, created using...

Phthalates are basically industrial chemicals that are used as solvents in many cosmetics.
A solvent (from the Latin solvō, “I loosen, untie, I solve”) is a substance that dissolves a solute (a chemically different liquid, solid or gas), resulting in a solution.
Most of the mainstream hair sprays, deodorants, nail polishes and perfumes that millions of people use every day contain these harmful chemicals.
Phthalates are also employed as plastic softeners and they stabilize the fragrance, increase spreadability, and enhance absorption of the cosmetics containing them. So you’ll find them in deodorants, nail polish (where they help prevent chipping), hair spray (where they prevent stiffness), perfumes, lotions, creams, and powders (including baby lotions, creams, and powders). The chemicals from these products can be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.

Why Are Phthalates Dangerous?

When researchers conducted animal studies, phthalates were shown to damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive systems. They can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled.
Scientists at government agencies in both the U.S. and Canada agree that exposure to the chemicals could cause a wide range of health and reproductive problems in people.

Okay, phthalates are bad. We get it! Why are they still used then?

Bella Terra Cosmetics Phthalate Free

Pthalates are like these hidden gremlins in our cosmetics!

Manufacturers use phthalates because they cling to the skin and nails to give perfumes, hair gels and nail polishes more staying power. They are used because no one wants to reapply eye-liner, and nail polish in the middle of the day.
The scariest thing is that, in a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they found that five percent of women as young as 20 had up to 45 times more phthalates in their bodies than researchers initially thought. So we’re all just walking around already with phthalates in our bloodstream, but the largest concentrations–20 times higher than the rest of the population–were found in women of child-bearing age.
Meanwhile, another study, led by Dr. Shanna Swan of the University of Missouri, identified developmental abnormalities in male infants correlating to high phthalate levels in their mothers’ bodies.
Makes you not want to put nail polish on, doesn’t it?

Phthalates can poison infants? I don’t want to have kids anyhow…

It’s not just reproduction that is compromised by these crazy chemicals, called phthalates. Swedish researchers claim that their presence in cosmetics such as self-tan, face creams and perfumes, significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study analyzed the blood level data of 1,000 people aged 65.

Researchers measured their ‘fasting’ blood sugar levels; Fasting blood sugar levels are the blood levels of people who haven’t eaten for at least eight hours.

The blood test results revealed that those with higher levels of phthalates in their blood were twice as likely to develop diabetes than those with lower levels of the plastic chemical in their blood.
Other diabetes catalysts, such as smoking, cholesterol levels and blood pressure, were taken into account by the study.

Is is just Women who are exposed to Phthalates?

Anyone is exposed to phthalates in many different ways. People can inhale them if they are used in hairspray or air fresheners and food can also be contaminated because of phthalates in the packaging,” explains study author Monica Lind.

Bella Terra Cosmetics Phthalate Free

Phthalates can be absorbed through the skin, and inhaled, so it’s very difficult to navigate something like hairspray

“Many are used in body products, like face creams, fake tan, make up and perfumes. Not only does the packaging contain them, but they are absorbed into the body and bloodstream through the skin. In perfume, we inhale the phthalates that are used to delay the scent and increase the lifetime of the perfume.”
Remember that I originally emphasized that we all have to make more conscious changes. Be more aware of what we are putting inside our bodies, and the environment around us. Good skin won’t happen overnight, but it will happen out of your commitment to living better.
If you are interested in having a look at the Bella Terra Cosmetics Exfoliating Gel and the Milky Cleanser, have a look their site, and really read the ingredients that they use.

Educate, and free yourself from some of the misconceptions out there…
Should you have any questions about other products, or overall facial care, feel free to send me an email at:
thatbword(at)gmail(dot)com and the answer to your question may just be in the next post!

There’s really not much to looking good. There’s discipline, and dedication (with useful information).

Good luck on your quest, and remember; The B word is for Beauty!