Why Avoid Phthalates for Fertility, Pregnancy and Postpartum


Why Avoid Phthalates for Fertility, Pregnancy and Postpartum

'Addition Avoids'

From the No Addition Awareness Series

This article is part of a series of educational blog posts on chemicals to avoid for fertility, pregnancy, and their impacts on reproductive endocrine function.

Planning for a baby is such an exciting time in many women’s lives, but it is also a time to be mindful of toxin exposure during day-to-day life that could impact her baby. The 3–6-month period prior to intended conception is an especially critical time to avoid toxins. We are exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) so regularly that their cumulative impact can pose significant risks to mom and baby.

Learning how to reduce the toxin load in everyday life takes time and is not an overnight process! If you are TTC (trying to conceive), pregnant, or conscious in avoiding chemicals that negatively impact your endocrine function, Addition Beauty is here to help guide you by highlighting chemicals to avoid for fertility and pregnancy in our latest series: “No Addition Awareness.” We’ll call out toxic chemicals (and where they are hiding!) that have made our “No Addition List,” a list of EDC’s and other toxins we’ve blacklisted from the ingredient lists in our products. Rest assured, Addition Beauty’s goal is to create safe makeup products so that you and other women can have peace of mind throughout womanhood!

Term to know:

EDC’s: These chemicals can affect fertility and pregnancy. They affect the reproductive endocrine system’s normal function by interfering with glands that produce estrogen, progesterone, and other reproductive hormones. This may not only affect the woman, but it may impact fetal development and the child’s hormone development as they grow up.

Today’s focus: Phthalates. So, what are they?

Phthalates (pronounced tha-layts) are synthetic chemicals typically found in cosmetics, nail polish, hair products, and fragrances. They are often added to cosmetics to enhance the shelf life of fragrances but are also used to make plastics more flexible. Chemical names or acronyms you might see on cosmetic ingredient labels include dibutyl phthalate (DBP), di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) and diethyl phthalate (DEP), but there are many other forms of phthalates.1 Also keep an eye out for “fragrance / parfum” listed as an ingredient on a cosmetics label because fragrance cocktails are considered trade secrets in the beauty industry, and cosmetic manufacturers do not have to disclose all of the chemicals used in a product. As you may have guessed, fragrances often contain phthalates… Our advice? Avoid it!

Why avoid Phthalates?

  • Phthalates can cross the placenta: Pregnant women and young children are the most vulnerable to the effects of this class of chemicals. When phthalates cross the placental barrier, they can interfere with hormone production and cause fetal abnormalities, including genital malformations, undescended testes, and lasting effects on a child’s development into adulthood.2

  • Impact child development: Prenatal exposure to phthalates can affect a child’s neurodevelopment and behavioral outcomes.3 According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the offspring has increased chances of early onset of puberty, lower testosterone levels in adolescent males and lower sperm counts in adult males.

  • Increased risk of infertility: Infertile men tend to have higher levels of DEP in their blood while infertile women show DEP and DBP.5

  • Increased risk of miscarriage: A study on female lab rats exposed to chronic levels of DBP and other phthalates showed an impact on sex hormone function and increased risk of miscarriage.4

  • They are banned in the EU: Both DEHP and DBP have known carcinogenic properties. The National Toxicology Program and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency state that DEHP is a human carcinogen based on evidence of carcinogenicity of animal studies. DEHP and DBP are both already banned in the EU for use in cosmetics.6

Where are phthalates hiding?

Phthalates are considered the “everywhere” chemical and are not just limited to cosmetics. They are also found in some food packaging, as an additive to PVC, on liners in weather-proof clothing, and in medical IV’s and devices. It is so important to be aware of the many ways that couples TTC, and pregnant mamas, may be exposed to phthalates so that they can reduce their toxin load and the unwanted reproductive effects on their fertility and baby. When it comes to consumer products, it is especially important to select safer products during this critical time. As for cosmetics – you can count on Addition Beauty for quality products that do NOT include phthalates or other harmful chemicals that should be avoided!





4Gray LE, et al., Chronic di-n-butyl phthalate exposure in reats reduces fertility and alters ovarian function during pregnancy in female Long Evans hooded rats. Toxicological Science, vol. 93, no. 1, pp 189-95, 2006. Available online: https://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/93/1/189.full.pdf August 18, 2014.

5Tranfo G., et al., Urinary phthalate monoesters concentration in couples with infertility problems. Toxicology Letters, vol. 213, pp 15-20, 2012. Abstract Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22197707 August 18, 2014