Avoid phthalates: why and how

Rarely are we so emphatic (in a negative way) about any ingredient. Even the much-feared parabens got a 2-post discussion before we gave them a "no" verdict. But phthalates (pronounced THA-LATES) are downright unsafe not only for you, but for the next generation as well. Read on to see why you should, and how you can, avoid phthalates.

1. What are phthalates?

Phthalates is not one, but a family of chemicals (just like sulphates or carbonates). They can take many forms, such as diethyl phthalate, di-n-propyl phthalate and so on.

2. Why should I avoid them?

One disclaimer before we proceed: there is debate in the scientific community (not surprising) about whether all pthalates are equally toxic. Admittedly, not all studies have studied ALL phthalates. But, there is sufficient evidence to prove that a majority of the phthaltes in commercial use are either unsafe or highly risky to use. An authentic, handy reference to phthalate safety can be found here.
Here's why you should avoid phthalates:
  1. They are confirmed to be reproductive toxins. In English, that means: causing early onset of puberty, lowering sperm count in males, interfering with reproductive development in young children and so on.
  2. Many phthalates are endocrinal disruptors. In English again: tricking the hormonal system in our bodies due to a similar "signature" as some other hormone/intermediate chemical in our body. 
In short, phthalates can actually get deeply involved with the biochemistry inside the human body. We don't want that.

3. Where are they found?

  1. Phthalates are used as plasticizers (making things more flexible) in PVC - a form of plastic
  2. They are added to paints to make them more spreadable
  3. They are added to nail polishes, again to make them spread easier. Thinking about that one coat nail polish you so loved? Ask the manufacturer if it contains phthalates!
  4. Most personal care products (other than those that are declared "phthalate-free"). You will rarely find phthalate listed in the ingredient list, because it is almost always part of "fragrance" used. Phthalate-free products choose fragrances that do not contain phthalates.

4. How should I avoid exposure to phthalates?

  1. Avoid using PVC containers. How to tell? A "3" inside a triangle at the bottom of the plastic bottle tells you that it's made of PVC. 
  2. Avoid using shower curtains, sheets, toys, plastic clays and other articles made of PVC. 
  3. If you microwave food, then only use safe, microwavable plastic containers. 
  4. Choose "phthalate-free" cosmetics and personal care products. Remember that phthalates are unlikely to be disclosed in any ingredient list, even the ones that contain them - because they are part of the fragrance used. 
Simple enough - not a whole lot of places to look for!
Shoot us questions and comments, we like them! Stay safe, be good!

About Plum

Plum GoodnessInspired by global best practices in safe natural cosmetics and beauty solutions, Plum is an exclusive, online-only beauty brand. At Plum, we bring together science and product expertise in a harmonious blend. And we give back to nature as much as we take. Designed in London and in the EU, all Plum products are 100% vegan and free of Parabens, DEP, DBP, Propylene Glycol, SLS, PABA, DEA and other harmful chemicals. Plum is available directly from plumgoodness.com. Click here to explore our product range.


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