Men: be aware of what's in your personal care

Oliver Sweatman March 09, 2010


Here's a sobering snippet re: the potential harmful effects of certain ingredients on men's health from the January 2009 edition of Not Just a Pretty Face - The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry by Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

"Harvard School of Public Health researchers Dr. Russ Hauser and Susan Duty studied men in an infertility clinic and found that men who had higher levels of DBP [a pthalate used in the manufacture of cosmetics] in their bodies had lower sperm quality and lower sperm motility. In a separate study of 379 men from an infertility clinic, the Harvard researchers correlated diethyl phthalate (DEP) with DNA damage in the men's sperm, a condition that can lead to infertility and miscarriage. DEP is the pthalate used most widely in cosmetics. The chemical appears to be getting into people's bodies from the products... Men who used cologne or aftershave within 48 hours before urine collection had more than twice the levels of DEP in their bodies as men who did not use cologne or aftershave... For each additional type of personal care product used, the DEP metabolite in their bodies increased by 33%."
It's important to point out that pthalates are not listed on the ingredient lists of personal care products; if they're there they're usually buried in the term "fragrance". Fragrance is considered a "trade secret" so manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients that make up "fragrance". A 2007 study conducted by Consumer Reports "found phthalates in 72% of personal care products, including fragrance-containing shampoos, deodorants and hair gels. None of the products listed pthalates on the label." This is a good example of how opaque and toxic the incumbent personal care industry has become over the years... But the tide is turning, with concerned consumers gaining the upper hand, thanks in large part to greater transparency ushered in by the web. We're doing our best to understand these issues without sensationalizing them, and we'll share key learnings here as we go... Please let us know if you come across any insightful articles or news on the matter.

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