Even the most conscious non-toxic beauty buyers, may have a hard time avoiding endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and if you’re just beginning your clean beauty journey, they’re important to understand. EDCs interfere with normal hormone functions and can affect things like reproduction and brain development. Learning what they are, how they affect your body, and how to identify them on an ingredients list will give you greater peace of mind when choosing a product, so let’s take a closer look.
What is the endocrine system? It’s a series of glands that produce and secrete hormones into the bloodstream, which are responsible for a wide range of functions including respiration, metabolism, growth, and reproduction, among others. For more explanation, check out this helpful resource.
What are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)? Anything that interferes with normal hormone functions in both humans and animals. There are some naturally occurring EDCs found in plants—soy (phytoestrogens), for example—but the vast majority are found in synthetic chemicals in everyday products.
Why should you avoid EDCs? They can imitate your hormones and signal your body to increase the production of certain hormones and decrease the production of others, sometimes destroying them completely and disrupting essential functions such as brain development, reproduction, and immune response.
What should you look out for? The most common EDCs in beauty products are parabens, plastics, phthalates, and pesticides. You can find a list of EDCs found in things other than beauty products, like common household items, here.
Parabens are synthetic chemicals that mimic estrogen and can build up in essential hormone-regulating organs. Medical studies have linked parabens to an increased risk of breast cancer.
A product’s packaging may contain chemicals that can seep into the products themselves. BPA, for example (common in plastics), is harmful to our oceans and wildlife.
Phthalates are an elusive chemical that you aren’t likely to see on a cosmetic label. They can have adverse effects on the male reproductive system, causing such things as decreased sperm count, testicular cell destruction, and thyroid irregularities.
Harmful pesticides can make their way into beauty products through the plants with which they were made, so it’s important to know if your product is organic or not.
To limit exposure and protect your body, buy products from ethically driven and environmentally conscious brands that have your best interest at heart. Subscribe to sainteden.com for recommendations.
What tips do you have for steering clear of EDCs? Let us know in the comments!