What Are Phthalates?
Phthalates are a group of chemicals commonly found in a wide range of consumer products. Although these ingredients are a hot topic in the beauty industry, understanding what they really are can be a fairly difficult task. In a purely chemical context, phthalates are used to increase the flexibility and durability of plastics. When it comes to haircare products, they can be used to enhance a shampoo or conditioner’s fragrance for a longer period of time.
Health Implications of Phthalates
Recent research has shed light on the potential health risks associated with phthalate exposure. Studies have indicated that certain phthalates can act as endocrine disruptors, interfering with the body's hormone systems. This disruption can potentially lead to a host of health issues that may include reproductive health problems, developmental issues, and increased risk of certain cancers.
For instance, a study published regarding Exposure to phthalates and breast cancer risk found a possible association between phthalate exposure and an increased risk of breast cancer (Lopez-Carrillo, L., et al., 2010). Another research article around Environmental phthalate exposure in relation to reproductive outcomes highlighted concerns about phthalates' impact on reproductive health, particularly in males (Swan, S. H., 2008)
“The risks to humans have yet to be fully defined but there is concern for negative health effects, including endocrine disruption, an impact on male fertility, and the possibility of increased cancer risk.” – Dr. Iris. Rubin, founder of SEEN.
Phthalates in the Haircare Industry
In haircare products, phthalates are primarily used to ensure that fragrances last longer. However, the vagueness of ingredient lists can make it challenging for consumers to identify products containing phthalates, as they are often hidden under the term "fragrance" or "parfum."
Alternatives to Phthalates
The good news is that there are safer, effective alternatives to phthalates in haircare products that won’t harm your skin. Developed by Harvard-trained dermatologist Dr. Iris Rubin, SEEN offers a range of haircare products that are free from harsh chemicals, including phthalates, aligning with the growing consumer demand for healthier beauty options.
It took 4+ years and countless formulation iterations to bring SEEN’s initial products to life. SEEN hair products have helped thousands of people understand firsthand that haircare is skincare and, in the process, changed lives for the better.
SEEN formulations include naturally-derived ingredients; for example, SEEN’s fragrance-free shampoo includes:
- Hemisqualane: Offers color and heat protection while reducing frizz. As a plant sugar-derived alternative to silicone, it's biodegradable and non-toxic, making it a safe choice for both hair and the environment.
- Bisabolol: A plant-derived extract that provides skin-soothing benefits
To make informed choices, consumers should look for labels that explicitly state "phthalate-free" and research brands committed to transparency, in particular around what’s included in product ingredient lists. SEEN’s commitment to dermatologist-developed, non-irritating products that are safe for sensitive skin and won’t clog pores is an excellent example of this practice.
So What’s Next?
While there is growing awareness about the potential health risks associated with phthalates, more research is necessary to assess their potential impact on reproductive and overall health. By choosing phthalate-free options such as SEEN products, consumers can feel confident that they are protecting their health without compromising the quality of their haircare routine.