Mystery Ingredient Monday: Phthalates

We’ve seen this little word pop up on a ton of non-organic lotions, hairsprays and perfumes. That’s because it is used in everything from toothpastes to baby toys. So we did a little digging to see what we could find.


It turns out that there is no regulation about how much phthalates can appear in consumer products like cosmetics. There is, however, fairly strict regulation on how much can be discharged into the air, land and water because it is categorized under “toxic substances” by the environmental laws. In recent studies, phthalates are most commonly linked to hormone level change and birth defects. Other issues include low fertility, early onset of puberty and neurological damage. Beware of an ingredient list that just says “fragrance,” as this can sometimes denote the presence of phthalates, too.

The bottom line: stay away from phthalates. They’re going to hopefully be phased out of our consumer products eventually, anyway. Until that happens, use caution. And don’t wear non-organic perfumes or slather on smelly lotion. Your natural scent (plus a little organic deodorant) is far more beautiful, anyway.