It’s Not Pretty: Phthalates

It's Not Pretty

Need help deciphering the alphabet soup of synthetic chemicals in skin care products?

This blog is part of a series on cosmetic ingredients and how to make safe choices for yourself and your family.


  • Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals that are common in personal care products such as moisturizers, nail polishes, soaps and perfumes. They’re also used in adhesives, electronics, toys and other consumer products.
  • Women using body care products with two types of phthalates – mono-benzyl phthalate and mono-isobutyl phthalate – increase their risk of developing diabetes, according to study released July 13 by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
  • Women with high urine levels of those chemicals were twice as likely to be diabetic than women with the lowest levels, the study says.
  • There are roughly 40 types of phthalates used in skin care products, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
  • Phthalates are often used in fragrances and have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory problems and potential reproductive system issues.

Part of the Problem is What We Don’t Know

  • The word “fragrance” or “perfume” on a product label means the bottle contains an undisclosed mixture of chemical stabilizers or dispersants, such as diethyl phthalate.
  • The Skin Deep Database gives diethyl phthalate a rating of 7, which is considered a high hazard on a scale of 0-10.
  • Phthalate exposure is widespread in the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information, click on this link to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

NOTE: Second Nature Skin doesn’t use perfume or phthalates in its body care products. Instead, we use essential oils, which are natural essences distilled from flowers and plants.

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