Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products, such as toys, vinyl flooring and wall covering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, blood bags and tubing, and personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes.
Why are Phthalates used in skincare products?
Phthalates are used because they are colorless, odorless and a cost-effective way to get high-performance and long-lasting wear. For example;
- Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is used as a solvent and fixative in fragrances. It is commonly used but hard to spot as it can fall under the term "fragrance".
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) makes nail polishes less brittle to keep them from cracking
- Dimethyl phthalate (DMP) allows hairspray to form a flexible film so it doesn’t get a stiff feel.
According to FDA's latest survey of skincare conducted in 2010, DBP and DMP are now used rarely. DEP is the only phthalate still commonly used in cosmetics.
How do Phthalates affect us?
It's not clear what effect, if any, phthalates have on human health; however, Phthalates came under public and scientific scrutiny in the early 2000s. One of the biggest concerns with phthalates is that they may affect the body’s hormonal system by mimicking our natural hormones or preventing them from doing their jobs. Phthalate exposure has been associated with impaired reproductive function, lower birth weight, increased or worsening allergies, asthma and altered childhood behavior. Despite increasing concern around the safety of phthalates, the reality is that they're very hard to avoid entirely given their prevalent use in everything from roofing material to food wrappers.
How are Phthalates in skincare products regulated?
There is little-to-no regulation from the FDA. Under the law, skincare products are not subject to FDA approval before they go on the market. FDA can take action against unsafe cosmetics that are on the market, but only if we have dependable scientific evidence showing that a product or ingredient is unsafe for consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use. At the present time, FDA does not have evidence that phthalates as used in skincare pose a safety risk.
What do Hawaii Skin Treat say about Phthalates?
Hawaii Skin Treats goes above and beyond the U.S. standards by barring all phthalates from our formulations. With scientific knowledge in mind and our commitment to only use safe ingredients — we know it’s worth the extra effort to avoid phthalates (and a couple of other ingredients on our
) in our skincare products.