Beauty Products May Be Slowly Killing You

Scientists from four institutions (Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and University of Michigan School of Public Health) have come to the same conclusion as the Swedish researchers I reported on in Lipstick or Diabetes? The personal care products sold to us as body- and beauty-enhancing aids are contributing to the sharp increase in diabetes.

The new study analyzed urine samples from 2,350 women, aged 20 to 80. Participants were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2001 and 2008. Even after controlling for sociodemographic, behavioral and dietary factors, the researchers found that women with more phthalates in their urine were more likely to have reported diabetes.

Those with the highest level of two phthalates (mono-benzyl and mono-isobutyl) in their urine had twice the risk of diabetes of those with the lowest levels. Two others (di-2-ethylhexyl and mono-n-butyl) were associated with a 70 percent increased risk, and mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate with a 60 percent increased risk.

These are not the first two studies to link phthalates with health consequences. Care2 Causes bloggers have reported on a number of them:

Phthalates are so widespread that anyone who uses cosmetics, fragrances, moisturizers, soaps, nail polishes, hair spray or other personal care products may be playing with loaded dice. And the dice are loaded with diabetes.

Avoiding phthalates entirely is nearly impossible. If you want to lessen your exposure, shop in stores that carry safer products and inform yourself through some of the many online guides such as those published by the Environmental Working Group. Consumers can wield power in the marketplace when they demand change.

Related Care2 Stories

The Problem with Plastic: Lightweight, Durable and Deadly

Lipstick or Diabetes? Cosmetics and BPA

The Cost of Beauty

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers3 years ago


LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr5 years ago

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr5 years ago

Thank you for info.

madeleine watt
Madeleine watt5 years ago

I can give up almost anything and have. I draw the line at organic, grass fed meats and expensive perfumes which I have worn since I was 16 (now 63).
There has to be some dang joy in life. I don't smoke cigarettes, drink, eat sugar, have wild promiscuous sex, lie, steal hate anyone (although it is so hard with the demented GOP and Tea party freaks out there. I politely listen to vegans (who are dead wrong about health as is Monsanto, et al. I don't go out in the sun without a hazard suit.
Come on. I love my good perfume.

Blythe Barny
Blythe Barny5 years ago

Yes, what we put IN our bodies is the most important. But what we put ON out bodies matters, too. Our skin absorbs what we put on it! Pangea Organics is a great skincare company - natural, certified organic and wonderful! They even have some videos on their website talking about the bad chemicals we put on our body. Has stuff like White Tea, cranberry, Adzuki Beans, Matcha, Himalayan Geranium, Willow, Rosemary . .

Check it out at

Angie V.
Angie V6 years ago


Fiona T.
Past Member 6 years ago

It's just skin deep

Adena Z.
Adena Z6 years ago

Enuff said:

Angelica S.
Angelica S6 years ago

great article, thanks!

Nicole W.
Nicole Winter6 years ago

This is one of the reasons why I am such an avid fan of the company LUSH... they've just started making beauty products, (such as lipsticks, mascara, eye liners, blushers, etc.,) and have been making naturally based, sustainable, mostly organic, non-animal tested bath and body products since the late nineties. They don't have a lot of stores out, (there's a few here, okay, more than a few, in Chicago where I live,) but you can order online from them at ... Here's the kicker, though, the prices are insane crazy. I don't know, to me, they are, or at least competitive with the high end market stuff, (department store brands,) maybe not quite that high in price, but you get what you pay for. Just for the simple idea that they use sustainable methods, don't test their products on animals and have a conscience as a corporation has made me a lifelong fan.