Clean Beauty Breakdown: Why You Should Ditch Phthalates!

Clean Beauty Breakdown: Why You Should Ditch Phthalates!

We’ve written before about the Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products and today we’re going to take a closer look at one of those sneaky ingredients that’s everywhere: phthalates. 

While we can’t completely control our exposure to this chemical, there are lots of easy swaps we can make to limit contact and decrease our risk of developing health effects associated with phthalate exposure.

First, what are phthalates?

Phthalates are a class of manmade chemicals that are used in many industries as binding agents, solvents, plasticizers, and in synthetic fragrances due to their versatility and lack of colour and odour. There’s a reason they are often called the “everywhere chemical!”

When it comes to the beauty industry, they’re in many products, but one sneaky place they can hide without needing to be disclosed is in artificial fragrances and parfums. Since these blends are proprietary, companies don’t need to share the ingredient list. Unfortunately, many of these fragrances rely on phthalates to help the scents stick to your skin and clothes and to linger in the air.

One of the biggest issues with phthalates is their many documented negative environmental and health effects, which are made worse by the fact that they never degrade. That means once a phthalate is created, it never breaks down and can end up in everything from the soil to rainwater, making contamination in the food chain sadly common. Processed foods tend to have higher levels of phthalates than organic and whole foods. That’s one reason our line of functional wellness teas are 100% organic!

What should you look for on labels?

When you’re shopping for beauty products, there are a few terms to watch out for since it’s rare that you’ll see “phthalates” clearly written on an ingredient list. However, some companies committed to organic beauty (ahem, Hello Joyous!), will proudly proclaim that their products are phthalate free, which takes away the guesswork.

The three types of phthalates most commonly used in the beauty industry are:

  • Diethyl phthalate (DEP): commonly found in cosmetics, synthetic fragrances, beauty & personal care products.
  • Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP): often found in nail polish
  • Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP): often found in cosmetics

While many phthalates have been banned in the European Union and the US, few, if any, have been banned in Canada. That’s why it’s so important to know what to look for so you can take steps to remove them from your beauty routine.

What are the health risks of phthalate exposure?

    1. Hormone imbalance 

      We’ve discussed how to balance your hormones to unlock radiant skin before and one key step is to avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals in beauty products. Phthalates are especially concerning because they can either displace or mimic important hormones in the body, leading to hormonal imbalance and all the effects on skin and health that come with it. What’s more is that you don’t need to be exposed to huge amounts for their impact to be felt. 

      Research shows that exposure to phthalates can negatively impact hormone levels and proper reproductive development, especially in male infants. Due to their endocrine disrupting effects in the body, these chemicals have also been associated with the decline in male fertility and sperm counts over the last several decades. For more information on the hormonal impacts of phthalates, check out this incredible podcast episode where our founder Joy interviews Dr. Shanna Swan, reproductive epidemiologist.

        2. Can have neurotoxic effects 

          Studies indicate that phthalates also have neurotoxic effects in the body. Children’s developing brains are particularly at risk, with research showing that phthalates can increase their risk of learning difficulties, attention disorders, and behavioural issues.

          Prenatal exposure to these chemicals has even been associated with higher scores of autistic traits in boys. Many of our customers contact us to ask whether our products are pregnancy-safe and we can say with absolute certainty that they are! Not a single product we make contains any hormone-disrupting chemicals or synthetic fragrances, which means you can use them throughout pregnancy and beyond with confidence in their safety.

            3. May increase risk of cancer 

              You may have seen in the news recently that a woman in the US has sued a popular cosmetics company over claims that their hair straightening products caused her uterine cancer. While the case hasn’t been settled yet it raises the important issue that what we put on and in our bodies can increase our risks for certain types of cancer.

              Phthalates have been associated with other types of cancers including thyroid and breast and this study has found an association between in utero exposure and the development of childhood cancers such as lymphoma and osteosarcoma. What we put on our bodies often gets absorbed into our bloodstream, which is why it's important to use products that are free from phthalates and other junk that can impact your health.

              Shop phthalate-free beauty! 

              One easy way to reduce your phthalate exposure is to swap over your beauty products for items that are phthalate-free. Unfortunately, many seemingly natural products still contain synthetic fragrances, many of which contain phthalates that help the scents stick to your clothes and skin and linger in the air.

              That means you’ll want to avoid products that say fragrance or parfum on the label.

              By shopping for products that are naturally unscented, contain essential oils for fragrance, and are made solely from pure, organic, plant-based ingredients, you can avoid absorbing phthalates through your skin. As a bonus, all-natural products help support a healthy skin barrier and skin microbiome for a glowing complexion.

              At Hello Joyous we’ve created products you can trust because we've eliminated all the junk, unnecessary fillers and harmful additives from every product. We are also committed to completely transparent labelling and we are determined to bring products that help you find more joy in the everyday. Our products are made from concentrated botanical extracts rich in antioxidants from nature. There are no fillers like water, therefore no need for synthetic preservatives. Instead of water, we use functional carriers for our organic botanicals like organic aloe and organic vegetable glycerin derived from coconut that keep the phytonutrients intact and stable.

              Every single one of our Hello Joyous skincare and body care products are free from phthalates.

              Our Fresh Face Cleanser, Magical Mist Facial Toner, Hella Hydrating Serum, Eye Elixir, and Super Natural Mask plus our best-selling Ultra-Moisturizing Body Butter are free from all synthetic fragrances and preservatives, so you can feel confident that you’re using the best toxin-free, skin-loving products to support your glow.

              As a bonus, they’re all packaged in glass bottles and jars–we’re reducing our plastic footprint as much as possible for the health of you and the planet.