They are present in many products that we use every day: food packaging, plastic bottles, baby wipes … and even in cosmetics (creams, perfumes, varnishes …)! While their harmful effects are becoming known as studies on the subject appear, few brands have really banned all endocrine disruptors of their ingredients.

This is the conclusion drawn from the survey UFC Que Choisir on the products of hygiene and beauty, which agrees with the results of the study conducted by the rating agency Noteo (we told you about our selection of 13 must-have eco apps for smartphones).

The same is true of the World Health Organization (WHO) report: we are exposed daily to a large number of different endocrine disruptors. If each one of them presents harmful effects for the organism, it is especially the “cocktail” effect related to their interaction which worries most the scientists.

The most common endocrine disruptors in cosmetics

1. Les Parabens

Several studies1,2,3 reveal that they disturb the endocrine system by behaving in the body like estrogen. In addition, it is known that butyl paraben is largely related to alterations in sperm DNA in men with infertility problems.

How to avoid them?

Very simply, by choosing products labeled “No parabens”. Their names on an INCI list:


Caution: “Parabens free” does not mean that there are no other potentially toxic preservatives or formula such as phenoxyethanol or irritants such as methylisothiazolinone (MIT). Let’s learn from the case of parabens: every time we remove an ingredient with a bad reputation, let us ask where it is replaced!

2. Phthalates

This type of molecule is mainly present in perfumes, nail polish and some styling products. The only phthalate still authorized by the European Union to enter the composition of cosmetics is DIETHYL PHTHALATE.

Phthalates significantly reduce the production of the male sex hormone testosterone4 (-30%) and thus hinder the development of sexual organs.

In women, phthalates instead stimulate sexual development leading to an earlier puberty.5

How to avoid them?

It is therefore necessary to avoid all the products containing in their list of ingredients INCI the name of DIETHYL PHTHALATE or any name composed from PHTHALIC ACID

Attention 1: DIETHYL PHTHALATE is widely used in perfumes to fix and prolong their scent. In this case, it is not listed as an ingredient in the INCI list. Indeed, whatever their composition, fragrances are all indicated on the INCI list under the same generic term: FRAGRANCE, which does not allow to know if the perfume considered contains phthalates or not. Phthalates can therefore be present in your perfume or in cosmetic creams (which are almost all scented) without being visible on the INCI list of ingredients.

The only way to avoid these “hidden” phthalates is to use only products whose fragrances are 100% natural. Better still, brands that clearly indicate that they do not use phthalates in their formulas.

Caution 2: Regarding phthalates, do not just consider the formula. As for Bisphenol-A, there is a real risk of phthalates migrating between the packaging plastic and its contents. It is therefore necessary to avoid all the products contained in a plastic PVC type that is marked by a particular symbol: the number 3 in a triangle of recycling. Until recently it was considered that a very common plastic called PET (polyethylene terephthalate) was not likely to release phthalates. However, a German study showed that the mineral water contained in PET plastic bottles contained much more phthalates than water contained in a glass bottle (“Endocrine disruptors in bottled mineral water: total estrogenic burden and migration from plastic”). bottles) by Martin Wagner and Jörg Oehlmann, 2009.) As a precaution, we also recommend that you avoid all products contained in PET packaging that are marked with a particular symbol: the number 1 in a recycling triangle.

3.Les Alkylphenols

They may be present in some body and hair cleansers, shaving cream and styling products.

The toxic and endocrine disrupting effects of alkylphenols have been demonstrated by several scientific studies6,7: reproductive organ malformations, decreased sperm count, and disruption of reproductive hormone balance.

How to avoid them? We must therefore avoid all products containing in their list of INCI ingredients the name NONYLPHENOL or any name composed from NONOXYNOL

4. Les Ethers de Glycol : Phenoxyethanol

The most used is PHENOXYETHANOL, as a preservative of formulas. There is still no study showing an effect of endocrine disruption as such, but an evaluation of the ANSM has shown risks for reproduction. A recommendation has been sent to the European Commission to ban this substance in products intended for children under 3 years of age (especially in baby wipes). As a precautionary principle, we also recommend avoiding all products containing the name PHENOXYETHANOL in their INCI ingredient list.

5. UV Chemical Filters: Benzophenone, Oxybenzone, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Oxybenzone

Present in sun creams, some hair products (shampoos, day cream …) or nail polish, these chemical molecules that filter UV also have a proven endocrine disruption effect, like these molecules: BENZOPHENONE, OXYBENZONE 8, ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE 9, or 4-METHYLBENZYLIDENE CAMPHRE.

Studies have shown that these chemical filters mimic the action of female hormones, 10 causing delayed puberty and disruption of reproductive development.

How to avoid them?

It is therefore necessary to avoid all the products containing in their INCI ingredients list the name BENZOPHENONE, OXYBENZONE, ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE and 4-METHYLBENZYLIDENE CAMPHOR.