What your personal care routine does to your hormones

Chemicals that affect your hormones are everywhere. They’re in your water, your water bottle, your food, your food packaging, your receipts, your furniture.

But one of the biggest sources of exposure to hormone-altering chemicals (especially for women) is your personal care and beauty products.

Just think about your morning routine…

Mostly likely you’re using:

  • Facewash,
  • Shampoo,
  • Lotion,
  • Foundation, eyeshadow, blush and mascara.

Alone, each of these products is a potential source of endocrine-disrupting chemicals

But combined, these products have the potential to create significantly dangerous changes in your hormone levels… and that spells disruption (and disease!) for your health.

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Beauty product chemicals make hormone levels wonky

A new study from researchers at George Mason University found that women with detectable levels of chemicals from personal care and beauty products also had noticeable changes in their hormone levels.

Researchers checked urine samples from 143 women for a variety of chemicals found in beauty and personal care products, including:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA)
  • Five chlorophenols (2,4-dichlorophenol (2,4-DCP), 2,5-dichlorophenol, 2,4,5-trichlorophenol, 2,4,6-trichlorophenol, triclosan)
  • Two ultraviolet (UV) filters (benzophenone-1, benzophenone-3)
  • Eight parabens and their metabolites (benzyl, butyl, ethyl, heptyl, methyl, propyl, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (4-HB), 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid (3,4-DHB))

They also checked the women’s hormone levels, and these chemicals were associated with hormonal changes…

The effect varied depending on what combination of chemicals were involved. Some of the chemicals increased reproductive hormone levels. Others decreased reproductive hormone levels. But the bottom line was that these chemicals messed with natural hormone levels.

Why are shifting hormone levels a problem?

Your hormones affect many different bodily functions. So, when chemicals make them go wonky, it can result in cancers, reproductive problems, obesity, diabetes, thyroid problems — the list goes on and on.

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Clean up your beauty routine

Walk into your bathroom or bedroom right now and look at the labels of the beauty and personal care products you use every day. Do they contain any of the chemicals mentioned above?

I know mine contain a few less-than-ideal ingredients. And I try to only purchase “clean” beauty products. Finding chemical-free beauty products is hard.

Thank goodness for the Environmental Working Group. This health and environmental advocacy nonprofit creates so many resources that help you avoid dangerous chemicals in your day-to-day life, including it’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.

This database contains over 73,000 products. When you search for a product in the database, it tells you what worrisome ingredients it contains and the potential health risks of those ingredients. In a sea of confusing chemical names and long ingredient lists, that’s pretty helpful.

So always read your labels. But when in doubt about a product’s safety, search for it in the EWG’s database. It’s the best way to keep your beauty products clean and your hormone levels healthy.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.