Endocrine disruptors in cosmetics

The 13 endocrine disruptors to avoid in your cosmetics

By the 16 October 2019

Modifié le 10 June 2020

Endocrine disruptors – when your moisturizer gives you cancer

 

Endocrine disruptors are used in a large number of products that we use everyday, such as food packaging, plastic bottles and baby wipes; they’re even in cosmetics (creams, perfumes, nail varnish etc.) ! Even though studies are beginning to reveal their harmful effects, very few brands have completely stopped their use of endocrine disruptors.

 

This is the finding of the UFC “what to choose” survey on hygiene and beauty products.

 

As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), we are exposed to a large number of different endocrine disruptors everyday. Since each of them have harmful effects on the body, it’s the “cocktail” effect linked to their interaction that worries scientists.

 

This is one of the things we feel most strongly about here at oOlution. We believe it’s completely unethical to use harmful ingredients, particularly in products meant for the skin. It’s even more important for pregnant women to check ingredients lists, since endocrine disruptors can affect the foetus and cause it serious developmental problems.

 

The entire oOlution range is completely endocrine disruptor FREE ! Our products are from 100% natural origin and are absolutely safe to use :)

 

  • Glow Up : a glowy and detoxifying moisturizer for normal to combination skin
  • Whole Again : a nourishing and protecting moisturizer for very dry and sensitive skin
  • Check Matte : a mattifying and regulating moisturizer for combination to oily skin
  • Age Out : an anti-aging and anti-wrinkle cream for mature skin
  • Eye Love : an anti-bags, anti dark circles and anti-wrinkle eye cream.
  • Happy Hands : a fondant hand and nail cream
  • Magic Milk : a moisturizing body milk for normal skin
  • Body Guard : a nourishing body cream for very dry and sensitive skin
  • Game Over : a balancing, anti-imperfections serum for all skin types
  • Light Up : a unifying and anti-blemish serum for mature skin
  • Feet Good : a comforting foot cream for very dry and fragile skin
  • Loving Balm : a nutri-repairing balm for very dry and fragile skin

 

We are still waiting for bills banning Alkylphenols, Parabens and Phtalates to be passed, but there are lots of you who’d like to know which endocrine disruptors you should be avoiding. This is why we have put together a list of the most common endocrine disruptors and their cosmetic (INCI) names.

 

The most common endocrine disruptors in cosmetics

 

How to avoid endocrine disruptors in cosmetics

 

Endocrine what ?

 

Endocrine disruptors are synthetic or (very rarely) natural chemical substances that disturb our hormonal system.

 

They are all around us, notably in our beauty and hygiene products.

 

Is it bad, doctor ?

 

Repeated doses of the cocktail effect : overdose !

 

40% of hygiene and beauty products contain endocrine disruptors. The danger is primarily from repeated exposure to small doses.

 

The risks

 

Cancer / Fertility issues / Diabetes / Neurodegenerative diseases

 

The harmful effects of endocrine disruptors can be passed on from mother to child over several generations

 

The World Health Organization has described endocrine disruptors as a  “worldwide danger” for health

 

Where do they hide ?

How do I recognize them ?

 

This is where you have to be careful ! Some are easy to recognize but others are able to hide beneath dozens of synonyms. We’ve put together the bits you need to know.

 

The INCI list :

the endocrine disruptors to avoid

 

A cosmetic product contains an endocrine disruptor if you spot one of these ingredients on its INCI list !

For the complete list of synonyms you can look at the article indicated at the bottom of the page.

 

Silicones

  • Used as a texture agent
  • Be aware : they are found in shampoo, moisturizers and deodorant 
  • Often labelled as :
    CYTOPENTASILOXANE DIMETHICONE
    or any name derived from SILOXANE or METHICONE.

 

Parabens

  • Used as conservatives 
  • Be aware : a label saying “paraben free’ could be hiding a replacement ingredient that is just as harmful (such as methylisothiazolinone)
  • Often labelled as :
    BUTYL PARABEN
    ETHYL PARABEN
    METHYL PARABEN
    PROPYL PARABEN

 

Triclosan 

  • Used as an antibacterial conservative
  • Be aware : very often used in toothpastes and foundations
  • Often labelled as :
    TRICLOSAN

 

Phenoxyethanol

  • Used for its antimicrobial properties
  • Be aware : not classed as an endocrine disruptor but it is highly recommended that you avoid it, particularly in products for babies (e.g. wet wipes)
  • Often labelled as :
    PHENOXYETHANOL

 

BHA

  • Used as a conservative and for its fragrance
  • Be aware : frequently used in makeup 
  • Often labelled as :
    BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE BHA

 

Phtalates

  • Used as a fixing agent
  • Be aware : Manufacturers are not required to indicate their presence on the INCI list : they can hide behind the generic name “fragrance” when the perfume used is synthetic.
  • Often labelled as :
    DIETHYL PHTALATE

 

Alkylphenols

  • Used as an emulsifier 
  • Be aware : mostly used in cleansers, shaving creams and hair products
  • Often labelled as :
    NONYLPHENOL
    or any name derived from NONOXYNOL

 

Resorcinol

  • Used in hair dyes
  • Be aware : hair dyes claiming to be “plant-based” don’t guarantee the absence of resorcinol.
  • Often used as :
    1,3-BENZENEDIOL / 1,3BENZENEDIOL
    RESORCIN / 1,3-BENZENEDIOL
    1,3-DIHYDROXYBENZENE
    M-HYDROQUINONE / M-PHENYLENEDIOL
    3-HYDROXYPHENOL
    4; M-DIHYDROXYBENZENE

 

Chemical UV filters

  • Used as UV filters
  • Be aware : these substances aren’t just used in sun creams, they are also present in certain shampoos, nail varnishes and moisturizers with SPF
  • Often labelled as :
    BENZOPHENONE / OXYBENZONE
    ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE
    4-METHYLBENZYLIDENE CAMPHOR

 

Lilial

  • Used as a perfume
  • Often labelled as :
    BUTYLPHENYL METHYLPROPIONAL

 

Well how am I supposed to remember all this ?!

 

This list can seem a bit intimidating… luckily, we now have smartphone apps that can help us avoid harmful ingredients !

 

The Générations Cobayes (guinea pig generations) association runs a project that raises awareness of the dangers in our environment, such as endocrine disruptors. 

 

Learn how to give ECO-ORGASMS in 7 steps !

 

Make good choices for environmentally friendly beauty !

 

Parabens

 

Several studies have found that they disrupt the endocrine-system by acting like estrogen in the body. It has also been found that butyl paraben is greatly linked to DNA alterations in sperm, causing fertility issues for men.

 

How to avoid them ?

 

Very simply, by choosing products labelled “paraben-free”. 

 

On an INCI list they will be labelled:
BUTYL PARABEN, ETHYL PARABEN, METHYL PARABEN, PROPYL PARABEN.

 

Warning : “Paraben free” doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t other potentially toxic conservatives in the formula such as phenoxyethanol or irritants such as methylisothiazolinone (MIT). Take a lesson from parabens : everytime that a harmful ingredient is removed, ask what it is being replaced with ! 

 

Phthalates

 

This type of molecule tends to be used in perfumes, nail varnish and certain hair products. The only phthalate still authorized by the European Union for use in cosmetics is DIETHYL PHTHALATE.

Phthalates significantly reduce the production of the male sex hormone testosterone (-30%) and thus affect the development of male sexual organs.
In women, phthalates have the opposite effect by stimulating sexual development and thus causing premature puberty.

 

How to avoid them ?

 

Avoid all products containing DIETHYL PHTHALATE or anything anything derived from PHTHALIC ACID in their INCI lists.

 

Warning 1 : DIETHYL PHTHALATE is often used in perfumes to prolong their fragrance. If so, it will not be listed on the INCI ingredients list. Regardless of their composition, all the fragrant ingredients are written on the INCI list under the generic term of “FRAGRANCE” which means we are unable to see whether the perfume contains phthalates or not. This means that phthalates can be used in perfumes or moisturizers (which are nearly all scented) without being listed on the INCI list.

 

The only way to avoid these “hidden” phthalates is to use products with perfumes that are from 100% natural origin. Better yet, use products from companies that clearly state that they do not use phthalates.

 

Warning 2 : When it comes to phthalates, it’s not only the ingredients list that you need to worry about. Just like Bisphenol-A, there is a risk of phthalates migrating between plastic packaging and its contents. It’s therefore important to avoid products packaged in containers displaying the number 3 in the recycling triangle. Until recently it was thought that a new kind of plastic called PET (polyethylene terephthalate) did not release phthalates. However, a German study has shown that mineral water contained in PET plastic bottles contained a lot more phthalates than water in glass bottles (“Endocrine disruptors in bottled mineral water : total estrogenic burden and migration from plastic bottles” by Martin Wagner and Jörg Oehlmann, 2009.) As a precaution we recommend that you also avoid products packaged in PET plastic marked with the number 1 in the recycling triangle.

 

Alkylphenols

 

Used in certain body washes, shampoos, shaving creams and hair products.

 

The toxic effects and endocrine disrupting abilities of alkylphenols have been proven in several scientific studies : malformations in the reproductive organs, reduction in sperm production and disrupting the balance of reproductive hormones.

 

How to avoid them : Avoid all products with NONYLPHENOL or any name derived from NONOXYNOL on their INCI list.

 

Glycol Ethers : Phenoxyethanol

 

The most commonly used glycol ether is PHENOXYETHANOL, as a conservative. There hasn’t yet been a study that shows their endocrine disrupting effects so to speak, however an evaluation by the ANSM (National Agency for the safety of Medicinal and Health products) has shown them to be harmful for reproduction. A recommendation has been made by the European Commission to ban these substances from products meant for children under the age of 3 (particularly baby wipes). As a precaution, we also recommend that you avoid all products with PHENOXYETHANOL in their INCI list. 

 

Chemical UV filters : Benzophenone, Oxybenzone, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphre, Oxybenzone

 

Present in sun creams, certain hair care products, moisturizers and nail varnishes. These chemical molecules that filter UV have a proven endocrine disrupting effect : BENZOPHENONE, OXYBENZONE, ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE, 4-METHYLBENZYLIDENE CAMPHRE

 

Studies have shown that these chemical UV filters imitate the action of feminine hormones, causing late puberty and disrupting the development of reproductive organs. 

 

How to avoid them ?

 

Avoid products containing BENZOPHENONE, OXYBENZONE, ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE, 4-METHYLBENZYLIDENE CAMPHOR 

 

Synonyms for BENZOPHENONE are :

 

(2,4-DIHYDROXYPHENYL) PHENYL-METHANONE

(2,4-DIHYDROXYPHENYL) PHENYLMETHANONE

2,4 DIHYDROXYBENZOPHENONE

4-BENZOYL RESORCINOL

BENZORESORCINOL

METHANONE (2,4-DIHYDROXYPHENYL) PHENYL

METHANONE (2,4DIHYDROXYPHENYL) PHENYL

2,4-DIHYDROXYBENZOPHENONE

 

Synonyms for OXYBENZONE are :

 

BENZOPHENONE-3

(2-HYDROXY-4-METHOXYPHENYL) PHENYL-METHANONE

(2-HYDROXY-4-METHOXYPHENYL) PHENYLMETHANONE

2-BENZOYL-5-METHOXYPHENOL

2-HYDROXY-4-METHOXYBENZOPHENONE

4-METHOXY-2-HYDROXYBENZOPHENONE

 

Synonyms for ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE are :

 

OCTYL-METHOXYCINNAMATE

2-ETHYLHEXYL P-METHOXYCINNAMATE

2-ETHYLHEXYL 4-METHOXYCINNAMATE

2-ETHYLHEXYL ESTER P-METHOXYCINNAMIC ACID

2-ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE

2-ETHYLHEXYL P-METHOXYCINNAMATE

2-ETHYLHEXYL-4-METHOXYCINNAMATE

 

Synonyms for 4-METHYLBENZYLIDENE CAMPHOR are :

 

4-METHYL-3-BENZYLIDINE CAMPHOR

4-METHYLBENZYLIDINE CAMPHOR

HEPTAN-2-ONE

1, 7, 7-TRIMETHYL-3- [ (4-METHYLPHENYL) METHYLENE]

 

Resorcinol

 

Often used in hair dyes, even those that claim to be “plant-based”, this is an endocrine disruptor of the thyroid that can easily pass through the skin barrier.

 

How to avoid it ?

 

Avoid all products with RESORCINOL in their INCI ingredients list.

 

Synonyms for RESORCINOL are :

 

1,3-BENZENEDIOL

1,3BENZENEDIOL

3-HYDROXYPHENOL

4; M-DIHYDROXYBENZENE

M-HYDROQUINONE

M-PHENYLENEDIOL

RESORCIN

1,3-BENZENEDIOL

1,3-DIHYDROXYBENZENE

 

BHA

 

BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) is used in cosmetics as a conservative or fragrance.

 

How to avoid it :

 

Avoid all products with BHA in the INCI ingredients list.

 

Triclosan

 

This antibacterial substance is often used as a conservative in cosmetics but also causes endocrine issues.

 

How to avoid it :

 

Avoid all products with TRICLOSAN in the INCI ingredients list.

 

Synonyms for TRICLOSAN are :

 

2,4,4’-TRICHLORO-2’-HYDROXY DIPHENYL ETHER

5-CHLORO-2- (2,4-DICHLOROPHENOXY) – PHENOL

5-CHLORO-2- (2,4-DICHLOROPHENOXY) PHENOL

5-CHLORO-2- (2,4-DICHLOROPHENOXY) PHENOL

5-CHLORO2 (2,4DICHLOROPHENOXY)

2,4,4’-TRICHLORO-2’-HYDROXYDIPHENYL ETHER

5-CHLORO-2- (2,4-DICHLOROPHENOXY) PHENOL)

 

Silicones

 

Silicones are often used in cosmetics (shampoos, moisturizers, deodorants etc.). One type of silicone has been shown to have endocrine disturbing effects : CYCLOPENTASILOXANE

 

How to avoid it :

 

Avoid all products with CYCLOPENTASILOXANE in their INCI ingredients list.

 

Synonyms for CYCLOPENTASILOXANE are :

 

CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, DECAMETHYL-

DECAMETHYL- CYCLOPENTASILOXANE

DECAMETHYLCYCLOPENTASILOXANE

 

Buthylphenyl menthylpropional

 

This substance is used as a perfume or fragrance.

 

How to avoid it :

 

Avoid all products with BUTHYLPHENYL METHYLPROPIONAL in their INCI ingredients lists.

 

Synonyms for BUTHYLPHENYL MENTHYLPROPIONAL are :

 

BUTYLPHENYL METHYLPROPIONAL

BUTYPHENYL METHYLPROPIONAL

LILYAL

PROTECTOL PP

LILLIAL

 

The list of endocrine disruptors to avoid :

 

  1. 4-METHYLBENZYLIDENE CAMPHRE (chemical UV filters)
  2. BENZOPHENONE (chemical UV filters
  3. BHA
  4. BUTYLPHENYL METHYLPROPIONAL
  5. CYCLOPENTASILOXANE
  6. DIETYHL PHTHALATE
  7. ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE
  8. NONYLPHENOL
  9. OXYBENZONE (chemical UV filters )
  10. PARABENS (Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Buthylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Isobuthylparaben, Benzylparaben)
  11. PHENOXYETHANOL
  12. RESORCINOL
  13. TRICLOSAN

 

Unfortunately this list is not complete : it’s very likely that as more studies are carried out, more endocrine disruptors will be discovered. Faced with such large amounts of ingredients to check on every product, the easiest way to avoid them is to switch to organic products that are 100% from natural origin (the only natural molecule that poses endocrine risks is cinnamal which is only present in essential oils)

 

To help you out

 

We wanted this article to be as complete and informative as possible, but it can be a bit intimidating with the all the scientific names ! Don’t panic, you don’t need to learn them all off by heart, there are useful tools out there to help, notably smartphone apps. When in doubt about an ingredient, a reliable source of information is Skin Deep Database. It’s a very detailed and easy to use database created by the association for the protection of human health EWG. Just enter the name of the ingredient that you are not sure about and Skin Deep will give you information about the dangers of using it and the products it is most commonly used in.

 

oOlution’s promise

 

With our natural formulas (cinnamal free), all oOlution products are guaranteed to be endocrine disruptor free. Moreover, we have never used PET packaging, and we never will. We instead use more inert materials such as PP plastic (number 5 in the recycling triangle). Because of this, regardless of its ingredients or packaging, we can guarantee that all of our products are free from endocrine disruptors. It’s the least we can do for our health ! 

This post is also available in french.

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