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Are Phthalates Harmful and Should I Use Them?

February 06, 2020

Are Phthalates Harmful and Should I Use Them?

Written by Stacey Kelleher.


There has been a lot of talk recently about the potential health risks of phthalates. But if they’re dangerous, why are they in so many everyday products?

By learning more about what phthalates do – and the products that contain them – you can make better-informed decisions for you and your family. 

What Are Phthalates? 

Phthalates are a group of man-made, colorless, odorless, oily chemicals found in hundreds of products, including: 

  • Children’s toys 
  • Cosmetics, lotions, and other personal care products
  • Food containers and wraps 
  • Household cleaners
  • Medical devices
  • Vinyl flooring and wall coverings
what are phthalates

What Are Phthalates Used for? 

Many manufacturers use phthalates in household goods because they make plastics softer and more flexible. Phthalates in cosmetics, personal products, and household cleaners are typically used to bind ingredients together and preserve fragrances. 

How Are We Exposed to Phthalates? 

Phthalate exposure occurs in several ways. Most commonly, it occurs through consuming food and beverages that have been stored in containers containing phthalates. 

We can also breathe in air that contains phthalates particles and vapors released from household furnishings, sprays, and cleaners. Phthalates in shampoo, soaps, and lotions are also absorbed by the skin.

dangers in phthalates

What Are the Dangers of Phthalates? 

While there needs to be more research to fully understand the health risks of phthalates, early studies suggest a link between exposure and a wide range of health and developmental problems, including: 

  • Asthma
  • Behavioral issues
  • Breast cancer
  • Early-onset puberty
  • Male fertility issues 
  • Obesity
  • Reproductive development problems
Phthalates are classified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) because they interfere with hormone production in the body. Because they are shown to cross the placenta, expectant mothers should be especially mindful of exposure throughout their pregnancy.

How Can I Avoid Phthalates? 

Under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, all cosmetics producers are required to disclose ingredients to consumers. To identify phthalates in your makeup and personal care products, look for three or four-word acronyms that refer to their chemical structure, like:

  • DEP: diethyl phthalate 
  • DMP: dimethyl phthalate
  • DBP: dibutyl phthalate 

Phthalates in Fragrances Don’t Require Labeling

how to avoid phthalates

Because flavor and fragrance are considered to be “trade secrets”, the FDA does not require manufacturers to disclose their ingredient lists. This loophole means that you can’t be completely sure that your product is phthalate-free, even if it doesn’t appear on the ingredient label. 

To be safe, choose natural cleaning and personal care products that don’t use phthalates (or any other chemicals) that can leach into food or be absorbed by your skin. Also choose products that use natural fragrances like essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.

Choose Smart Packaging, Too

When buying plastic goods, avoid products labeled with the number 3 and the letters “V” or “PVC.” Instead, choose safe plastics labeled with the numbers 1, 2, 4, or 5.

safe plastic numbersWe’ve made smart choices when it comes to Puracy packaging. All of our bottles are made of PETE 1, which is BPA-free, recyclable, inert plastic that won’t leach harmful chemicals into the products used around your home and family. 

You should also consider our refill pouches, which use 90% less plastic compared to bottles. Meanwhile, our reusable Puracy Infinity Glass Bottles are a great way to ditch the plastic altogether! 

Choose 100% Phthalate-Free Formulas 

Puracy is dedicated to using safe, non-toxic ingredients in all of our home and body products. Puracy cleaning products – from our natural household surface cleaners to our enzyme stain removers – harness the power of plant-derived enzymes to effectively remove dirt and grime. 

Our complete line of personal care products, including natural body washes, bubble baths, lotions, and hair care products, are entirely phthalate-free. You’ll enjoy the benefits of plant-based emulsifiers and moisturizers in every Puracy product that touches your skin.

Puracy Ingredients Are Safe for Your Entire Family 

It can be overwhelming to keep track of all of the commonly-used chemicals you and your family should avoid, so we’ve done the work for you. We invite you to learn more about Puracy ingredients to discover why our products are natural and safe – and why they consistently land on best-of lists.

puracy phthalate free
To learn more about phthalates and other ingredients to avoid, check out these earlier posts: 

Harmful Ingredients in Baby Products That You Should Avoid
Personal Care Ingredients to Avoid: What to Watch For
What Is Dimethicone and Is It Safe?

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