Endocrine Disruptors in Beauty & Skin Care Products
Someone on Instagram asked me to address endocrine disruptors found in skin care and beauty products so that they can easily identify them when shopping around. Before we delve into the list, there are a couple thing we should address first, like (1) why should you care about ingredients that are considered "endocrine disruptors" and (2) what is an "endocrine disruptor" anyway?
What's an Endocrine Disruptor?
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system - easy enough, right? Well, the endocrine system is the technical term for your hormonal system. This system involves your brain, sex organs (ovaries or testes), thyroid gland, pancreas, and adrenal glands - just to name a few. It's a complex set of organs that talk to one another with the use of hormones so that cells from one part of the body can make sure that cells in another part of the body perform optimally and so that you feel great!
Why care about Endocrine Disruptors?
Now, why care about endocrine disruptors? As we said before, they are chemicals that disrupt your hormonal system. When these chemicals are introduced into your blood stream via absorption through the skin, inhalation, or the gut, they can bind to hormone receptors in cells and mimic estrogen, copy the action of testosterone, or reduce thyroid function - just to name a few potential actions. And, when this happens, it can increase risk for infertility, altered sexual behavior, hormone-related cancers, and cause chronic conditions (like hypothyroidism). So, that is why you should care!
Now scroll on down to see the list of 7 endocrine disruptors commonly found in beauty and skin care products
What are Endocrine Disruptors to look for?
Here's a list of 7 endocrine disruptors found in beauty and skin care products, what literature says they do in the body, and what products you can commonly find them in:
Studies have found paragons to be weakly estrogenic in vitro, meaning that it can attach to estrogen receptors and lightly act like estrogen. One specific type of paraben, called butyl paraben, has been shown to affect reproduction in animal models.
Where it can be found: sunscreens (particularly methyl paraben)
Phthalates have been shown to have negative impacts on the reproductive tract in humans, especially in men. Studies show that phthalates can reduce semen quality and can negatively impact male genital development. According to literature, phthalates can do this by inhibiting the action of testosterone in the body (aka they have anti-androgenic properties). In pregnant women exposed to high amounts of phthalates, it has been shown that it can cause miscarriage and pregnancy complications.
Where it can be found: Fragrances, bar soap, shaving cream, and lipstick.
BPA has been shown to have estrogenic properties.
Where it can be found: soaps, lotions, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, nail polish, and sunscreen.
Studies show that synthetic musks can have estrogenic effects. Fragrances to look for are musk xylene, musk ketone, galaxolide, tonalide, and celestolide. Beyond causing estrogenic effects, fragrances can cause other health effects, such as eczema, asthma, asthma exacerbations, and headaches.
Side note: Fragrances can be indicated as "synthetic" or "natural". Note that some natural fragrances can be chemically synthesized, which might smell like the real, natural thing. However, if you look at it under the microscope, the synthetic form will have a different shape compared to the natural form, which can cause different effects in the body compared to natural fragrances.
Studies show that glycol ethers can reduce sperm motility and also negatively impact red blood cells.
Where it can be found: Sunscreens, shaving creams, and face lotion
There are 3 types of cyclosiloxanes - D4, D5, and D6. Studies show that the D4 type is weakly estrogenic and the D5 type has been shown to cause cancer in animal models.
Where it can be found: Sunscreens and Shaving creams
Benzones have been shown to have estrogenic properties in animal models and have been implicated in negatively impacting their reproductive abilities.
Where it can be found: Sunscreens
Hopefully this makes shopping for clean beauty and skin care products easier for you and also helps you understand why clean products are necessary. Remember, what we put on our skin will usually get absorbed and end up in our blood streams. Studies actually show that some sunscreen ingredients can end up in the breast milk of lactating mothers! So, live naturopathically as possible to help prevent chronic conditions, especially hormone-related ones.
If you want to know how you can rid your body of endocrine disruptors (especially when you have hormonal imbalance issues) with naturopathic medicine, schedule a consultation with me at Jupiter Naturopathic Wellness to see how I can help you out. The great thing about naturopathic medicine is that we see your symptoms as a signs from your body to find the root cause of your ailments. So, we will look at things beyond the inner workings of your body and look at what environmental exposures in your house, in your office, or from your hobbies that could be contributing to your symptoms.
Beyond the list above, another great resource to check out is the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. It's a super cool website where you can find the most up-to-date information on personal product ingredients and their impacts on the body.
See ya' at Jupiter soon,
Caliman, Florentina Anca, and Maria Gavrilescu. “Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products and Endocrine Disrupting Agents in the Environment - A Review.” CLEAN - Soil, Air, Water, vol. 37, no. 4-5, 2009, pp. 277–303., doi:10.1002/clen.200900038.
Dodson, Robin E. et al. “Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products.” Environmental Health Perspectives 120.7 (2012): 935–943. PMC. Web. 11 Sept. 2018.
Ghazarian, Armen A., et al. “Maternal Use of Personal Care Products during Pregnancy and Risk of Testicular Germ Cell Tumors in Sons.” Environmental Research, vol. 164, 2018, pp. 109–113., doi:10.1016/j.envres.2018.02.017.
Kunz, Petra Y., et al. “Comparison of In Vitro and In Vivo Estrogenic Activity of UV Filters in Fish.” Toxicological Sciences, vol. 90, no. 2, 2006, pp. 349–361., doi:10.1093/toxsci/kfj082.2.
Schlumpf, Margret, et al. “Endocrine Activity and Developmental Toxicity of Cosmetic UV Filters—an Update.” Toxicology, vol. 205, no. 1-2, 2004, pp. 113–122., doi:10.1016/j.tox.2004.06.043.
Tijani, Jimoh O., et al. “Pharmaceuticals, Endocrine Disruptors, Personal Care Products, Nanomaterials and Perfluorinated Pollutants: a Review.” Environmental Chemistry Letters, vol. 14, no. 1, 2015, pp. 27–49., doi:10.1007/s10311-015-0537-z.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. There are no financial ties to any supplement companies, pharmaceutical companies, or to any of the products mentioned in this post. This post is not meant to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose conditions or diseases and is meant for educational purposes. As always, please consult your doctor before trying any new treatments or supplements.