Are all chemicals bad or toxic? Of course not. There’s no need to panic and toss out everything in your bathroom, but there are some that needs extra attention! One of those chemicals are Hormone / Endocrine Distrupting chemicals (HDC or EDCs) that can affect our health adversely and can contribute to autoimmune diseases, reproductive disorders, obesity, weight gain, or diabetes. Read here for detailed information.
Unfortunately, seeing a cosmetic or a skin care product on the shelves of your favorite store, doesn’t mean that they are truly safe. The detailed State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals – 2012 report from World Health Organization (WHO) states that “EDCs are present in personal care products, and their uptake through skin has been recently recognized as a significant route of human exposure.” (1).
This was the bad side of hormone disrupting chemicals. The good side is the effect is reversible! A scientific study published in Environmental Health Perspectives by researchers from UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas demonstrates even a short break from certain kinds of makeup, shampoos and lotions can lead to a significant drop in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the body. You can read the full paper here (2)
The team focused on four Hormone Disrupting chemicals that are used in shampoos, lotions and cosmetics.
These four chemicals were:
- Parabens: A preservative used in makeup, personal care and skin care products. This chemical can mimic natural female sex hormone estrogen and bind to its receptor in the body.
- Phthalates: It’s found in nail polish, fragrance and perfumes. Companies don’t have to reveal fragrance ingredients in detail, yet majority of these ingredients can contain phthalates, a known hormone disruptor.
- Triclosan: An antibacterial and antifungal agent. It can be found in body washes, toothpastes, soft and bar antibacterial soaps, cosmetics, shaving products, deodorants and dry shampoos.
- Benzophenone-3: UV filter used in a sunscreen products.
In this study, 100 teenager girls in the Salinas area were asked to swap personal care products and cosmetics with new products that did not include the four chemicals (pthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone) in their ingredient list. Researchers took urine samples before and after the three-day test.
Reduced Exposure to Hormone Disruptors
The analysis of the urine samples showed a significant drop in the levels of these chemicals in the body after switching to products without these hormone disrupting chemicals. The phthalate (MEP) level decreased by 27%, methyl and propyl parabens dropped 44 and 45% respectively. Triclosan level was decreased by 35% and benzophenone-3 levels in the urine were decreased by 36% compared to the levels obtained when the girls were using personal care products with these chemicals.
Even switching to products without these hormone disrupting chemicals for 3 days made a significant difference! Overall, the girls showed a 25 to 45% drop in the levels of these four chemicals. This scientific study shows us that you really could reduce your exposure to these chemicals through one easy step: swapping your products with healthier alternatives.
Can you decrease your exposure to these chemicals?
I would suggest reading your product’s ingredients and replacing each product as they finish with a healthier and safer skin care or personal care product without any Hormone Disrupting chemicals. After all, there is scientific proof that you can reduce your exposure to these chemicals as fast as in three days!
Dr. Ebru Karpuzoglu MSc., PhD.
Chief Scientific Officer
1- State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals – 2012 report from World Health Organization (WHO).
2- Harley KG, Kogut K, Madrigal DS, Cardenas M, Vera IA, Meza-Alfaro G, She J, Gavin Q, Zahedi R, Bradman A, Eskenazi B, Parra KL (2016). Reducing phthalate, paraben, and phenol exposure from personal care products in adolescent girls: Findings from the HERMOSA intervention study. Environ Health Perspect DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1510514. Epub: 2016 March 7.