Phthalates is an ingredient found in many beauty and personal care products, most notably as a carrier for Fragrance ingredients. Under current FDA labelling regulations, this ingredient can often be labelled just as "Fragrance", although it is major component in the composition of the product. In other products, it is listed, but as an acronym which makes it harder to identify.

For the latest update on Phthalates, click here: Cosmetic Ingredient Linked to Health Problems, ADHD.

Below is a list of common names for the Phthalates found in personal care products:

Phthlate NameCommon Usage
BzBP or
benzylbutyl phthalate
vinyl flooring, car-care products, and personal care products
DBP or
di-n-butyl phthalate
in nail polish and other personal care products
DEP
or diethyl phthalate
personal care products, such as deodorants, perfume, cologne, aftershave lotion, shampoo, hair gel, hand lotion

Animal-based studies of phthalates have found that the synthetic chemicals can harm reproductive system development, and studies in humans have found that prenatal exposure or exposure through breast milk can alter hormone concentrations.

A recent study was carried out by researchers on 163 babies and toddlers in the Pacific Northwest at the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute, and was published in the journal Pediatrics. The study's Lead author, Sheela Sathyanarayana, an acting assistant professor of pediatrics, said, "We found that infant exposure to phthalates is widespread, and that exposure to personal care products applied onto the skin may be an important source.”

"This is troubling, because phthalate exposure in early childhood has been associated with altered hormone concentrations as well as increased allergies, runny nose, and eczema. Babies may be more at risk than children or adults because their reproductive, endocrine, and immune systems are still developing."

The study recommended that parents, who want to decrease their baby's exposure to phthalates, should limit the amount of baby care products used on the infant, and apply lotions or powders only if medically indicated.

Babies recently treated with infant personal care products such as lotion, shampoo, and powder, were more likely to have phthalates in their urine than other babies.

Researchers found that the use of baby powder, lotion, and shampoo were each strongly associated with higher phthalate levels in the urine. Babies, who were 8 months old or younger, had stronger associations between product use and phthalate concentrations, as did babies whose mothers used more infant personal care products.

Europeans, taking a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach, have banned phthalates from personal care products. This is not the case with US made products. Lavera, True Natural and Benecos products are phthalate free.