Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
The FDA does not require companies to individually list the chemicals or compounds that add scent to cosmetics or personal-care products. These “unspecified fragrances” often contain phthalates, a family of plasticizers and solvents that has been shown to affect reproductive health in animal studies, and parabens, linked to similar endocrine- disrupting effects that can cause reproductive and developmental disorders. Research on human-health implications is ongoing.
Parabens (specifically propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutyl-)
Parabens are preservatives often used in cosmetics and fragrances. The FDA has said they have been shown to mimic estrogen; the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products considers some to be endocrine disruptors.
This chemical,used in cosmetics as a preservative, has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA.
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
Added to nail polish to make it chip resistant, DBP has been restricted, in addition to five other phthalates, from child-care products manufactured, distributed, and sold in California. The European Union has banned DBP in cosmetics and personal-care products.
Found in most nail polishes,toluene is a volatile petro-chemical solvent, paint thinner, and potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant and can impair breathing and cause nausea. It’s also been associated with toxicity to the immune system and impaired fetal development.
Often used in mascara, these petroleum-extracted ingredients have been linked to skin irritation and are often contaminated with cancer-causing impurities.