Toxins in Cosmetics

News Note

By Darren Buford

Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, April/May 2003.

According to the environmental group Coming Clean, chemicals known as phthalates are in a number of everyday consumer products, including cosmetics. This harmful plasticizer is used as a softening agent in vinyl products, including, feeding bottles, teethers, perfumes, soaps, lotions, shampoos, and more, and can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled or ingested. In animal studies, phthalates have been known to cause organ damage, reproductive problems and developmental inadequacies. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found high phthalate levels in urine taken from women of childbearing age, raising questions as to whether or not the chemical could be passed on to infants. The fear of the chemical’s harm is large enough that the CDC has prioritized phthalates for further investigation. For more information on phthalates, visit,, or