Endocrine disruptors in cosmetics

Nov 06 2017

Endocrine disruptors are damaging to your health, and yet, the debate on whether we should continue using chemicals that are proven endocrine disruptors and are, despite this, still being used in personal care products, cosmetics, cleaners, and plastics, has been going on for more than 10 years.

What are endocrine disruptors

In 2012 the World Health Organization presented the following definition of what endocrine disruptors in cosmetics are: An endocrine disruptor is an exogenous substance (existing outside our body) or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub)populations.

Simply put, endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the functions of the glands which normally release various types of hormones in the human body. Among others, these chemicals can affect the functions of the gonads, liver or the thyroid gland. 

What is the endocrine system and what is its function

 

endocrine glands

The endocrine system is present in all humans and in many animals. It consists of 8 main glands and ovaries or testes. Each gland is responsible for releasing different types of hormones into the bloodstream, to help regulate growth and development, cell metabolism, sugar levels, sexual functions, mood and general wellbeing. 

Endocrine disruptors in cosmetics

The purpose of use of endocrine disruptors in cosmetics is to increase the shelf life and to prevent the development of microbes and bacteria in products.

Chemicals that have been proven to be endocrine disruptors (EDC) can still be used in prescribed quantities in cosmetics. The most common endocrine disruptors that can be found in personal care products are phthalic acid, parabens, ultraviolet (UV) filters, polycyclic musks and antimicrobial agents.

Chemicals that are added to cosmetic products must be listed on the packaging among ingredients (INCI) and we would advise that you always read what ingredients the product holds before purchase.

Denmark is most cautious in use of endocrine disruptors

Of all the EU members, Denmark is the most active and critical in their research of impact the endocrine disruptors in cosmetics have on vulnerable groups. The Danish government has recently issued a Brochure for the pregnancy period, where a chapter is devoted to informing the readers about endocrine disruptors in cosmetics. In its brochure, it advises pregnant women on how to avoid known and potential endocrine disruptors during pregnancy, the breastfeeding period and while nursing a newborn baby. The government has also prohibited their use in products intended for the care of children under the age of 3.

Parabens - the most famous among endocrine disruptors

parabens in cosmetics

There are different types of parabens in cosmetics. These are various chemical compounds that share a very similar molecular structure. They are used in cosmetics as preservatives to ensure the product doesn’t develop bacteria. Parabens are most frequently found in shampoos, makeup, moisturizing creams and liquid soaps.

In 2004 a study was published in the UK that presented a link between parabens and breast cancer. More specifically, scientists discovered parabens in the cancerous tissue of breast cancer. The study caused a public reaction and started a ‘paraben freemovement. Due to their structure, parabens in cosmetics can easily penetrate the body and mimic the main female sex hormone estrogen.

Exactly how much and how the low concentrations of parabens in cosmetics can influence the human organism is not yet known. While some argue that such low concentrations are harmless and are easily processed by the human body, others point out the possible harmful effects that such products may cause. 

Natural cosmetics do not contain parabens –shelf life is ensured with other means

In Hemptouch, the durability of products and the prevention of the development of microorganisms that can be harmful to the skin and the organism are achieved in three ways:

  • A water-free formula – products that don’t contain water (e.g. ointments, oils for the body…) have no suitable environment for the development of microorganisms, therefore there is no need to add harmful chemicals.
  • Airless packaging – airless packaging is a wonderful invention that enables natural products to last longer, since it prevents the intrusion of air and, more importantly, the intrusion of microbes that we would otherwise introduce when using our own hands.
  • Use of natural preservatives – nature offers an abundance of substances that can substitute the role of the preservative in the cosmetic product. One such substance is the anisic acid that we use in our face creams. In addition to preserving freshness, anisic acid also has a beneficial effect on the natural pH of your skin.

We accept the decision

hormone disruptors cosmetics

In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) prepared a report on endocrine disruptors (EDC), which they concluded with a warning to countries, reporting that these chemicals pose a high risk to our health and the environment. For decades, the use of endocrine disruptors in cosmetics and skin care products has been a recurring topic in many spheres, from science, global health organizations, large cosmetic corporations, socially critical individuals and groups, environmentalists, to consumers’ associations.

And last but not least, it is a topic that comes into focus each time you hold a skin care product. On a personal level, the decision for or against endocrine disruptors in cosmetics is not really a difficult one.  The decision for cosmetics that don’t contain hazardous chemicals is more comfortable, more pleasant, safer and more responsible.

References

Endoscrine science.org
https://www.endocrinescience.org/the-endocrine-system/

Zveza potrošnikov Slovenije
https://www.zps.si/index.php/okolje-topmenu-320/nevarne-kemikalije/7040-hormonski-motilci-10-2014

Ministry of environment and food Denmark
http://eng.mst.dk/about-us/news/news-archives/2012/jun/danish-criteria-are-effective-for-the-identification-of-endocrine-disruptors/

Parabens in Cosmetics
https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productsingredients/ingredients/ucm128042.htm

Personal care products and endocrine disruption: A critical review of the literature
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20932229

 



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