Baby Skincare: What You Need to Know About Scents and Pthalates

Nothing smells better than a freshly bathed baby, but did you know that certain ingredients used to create the scent in baby shampoos and skincare products can be harmful? Many synthetically produced scents, fragrances and perfumes found in cosmetics, lotions and shampoos contain a problematic ingredient known as pthalates (pronounced tha-lates), which are plasticizers used to create soft, flexible plastics and long lasting perfumes.

Natural Scents From Essential Oils vs Synthetically Produced Scents

Traditionally, perfumes were produced by extracting the essential oils from plants, such as lavender or sandalwood. Modern chemistry has allowed people to produce perfumes by synthesizing the chemical structures in a laboratory and mixing them with other chemicals, such as pthalates, that make the perfume last longer and hang in the air more effectively. Natural fragrances do sometimes cause allergic reactions or unexpected aromatherapy effects, but in general fragrances from natural essential oils are much safer than perfumes containing pthalates.

Health Risks Associated With Pthalates

Pthalates have been identified as a possible carcinogen, and have also been linked with hormone disruption and early puberty in girls. Pthalates are also dangerous because they are an ingredient in so many household products, including flooring, plumbing, soft plastic toys, shower curtains and skincare products. People may be exposed to pthalates many times a day from various sources, especially people who spend the majority of their time indoors where the air is exchanged less frequently.

Go Pthalate Free

Another troubling fact about pthalates is that children and women of childbearing age have the highest levels of pthalates in their blood. This may be because women and children use more synthetically scented skincare and cleaning products, or they spend a higher percentage of their time indoors at home. However, since children and fetuses have a smaller body size, and developing endocrine systems are especially sensitive to harmful substances in their early stages of development, it is a wise choice to reduce their exposure to pthalates wherever possible. Choosing skincare products that are pthalate free is a great place to start.

Going without synthetically produced perfume doesn’t have to mean you’re destined for a future of sweaty, smelly skin. To start with, simply bathing regularly keeps odor-causing bacteria at bay and reduces the likelihood of stinky skin in the first place. In addition to regular bathing, choose skincare products that make use of natural essential oils instead of synthetically produced fragrance. Skincare products are not required by law to state whether pthalates are used in their ingredients, so it’s best to look for “pthalate free” on the label, even if the product says Natural or even Organic.

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