Toxic Thursday:  What the what are phthalates?

May 29, 2014
Little Twig was just one of the shampoos I reviewed while trying to find a non-toxic option for my kids. SOURCE IMAGES

You look at that word – phthalates – and your eyes and brain do not connect. What exactly does that say? It just looks wrong!

Phthalates (THAL ates), are a known endocrine disruptor. They are linked with birth defects, breast cancer, infertility, liver cancer, diabetes, obesity, autism and ADHD.

Manufacturers use phthalates to make hard plastic more flexible. Phthalates mimic the hormones found in humans and animals, so they trick the body into thinking there is more estrogen than there is. This is especially harmful for pregnant women, because it can lead to birth defects, and children, because their bodies are smaller and chemicals have a larger impact on them.

Some researchers believe phthalates are responsible for early puberty in girls younger than 10! They have also been blamed for birth defects in boys, including penis deformities.

Besides being commonly found in plastics, phthalates are also found in sunscreens, perfumes, lotions and other beauty products like shampoos.

Several states and the European Union have banned the use of phthalates, and Walmart and Toys R Us have banned its use in children’s toys.

So how do you know if one of your products at home has phthalates? Well, that is the tricky part. Phthalates are not generally listed in the ingredients. Often, they are hiding behind the term Fragrance.

Hopefully by now you are reading more and more labels. If you are like me, you started reading food labels because you wanted to protect yourself and your family from what was going into your bodies. But, what about the stuff going on your skin?

Skin does absorb a lot of what we put on it, so that means those chemicals are also entering our bloodstream. Yikes!

Phthalates are one of the top chemicals to avoid on my list because they can lead to so many problems. Manufacturers need to stop hiding these chemicals under seemingly innocuous words like Fragrance. And, as we all know, the only way to get manufacturers to change anything is to vote with our dollars and not buy their second-rate products.

There are phthalate-free products out there. You just have to look and do your research. I’ve found some good shampoos that are labeled phthalate-free. Here are a few that I’ve tried and liked.

• Tot Logic. Tot Logic was created by a mom who was sick of putting chemicals on her children. She came up with this line of products – shampoo, body wash – that are completely free of sulfates, parabens and those yucky phthalates. We have used both the shampoo and the shampoo body wash and enjoyed both. At $14 for a small shampoo they are a bit pricey, but my hair was great while using them.

• Little Twig. Little Twig has a line of products for babies and children that are phthalate free as well as paraben-free, sulfate-free and free of nuts, wheat and soy. The shampoos, body wash and lotions come in scented and unscented. We used the Little Twig Baby Wash – Tangerine and the Little Twig Unscented Baby Lotion. The baby wash had a very light scent that I enjoyed and the baby lotion doesn’t seem to upset baby’s skin at all. Plus, I feel good about using them because they do not have harmful chemicals.

• Babyganics. Babyganics product line features shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, etc. It is one of the largest lines claiming to be phthalate free. I have liked their sunscreen, but I do not really like their shampoo. We are using the foaming fun shampoo and it is fragrance free, as well as phthalate-free, paraben and sulfate free, etc., but it doesn’t seem to clean very well. The foam is a nice feature, but I feel I use twice or three times as much to get the job done. I’d rather just use a liquid soap.

• Ava Anderson Baby. The Ava Anderson baby line features diaper cream, powder, shampoo and soaps in pretty white and yellow packaging. I must disclose here that I recently became an Independent Consultant for Ava Anderson. But, I chose to do that because I loved the products so much. They were created by a teen who felt there weren’t enough non-toxic choices out there for consumers (and, boy was she right!). The baby line is very nice, has only a very light scent and cleans well. I use this on my kids and on myself because it gives my hair incredible volume.

And, that’s my list. Have you tried any of these – what were your thoughts? Did you find other brands/products that you like? Share with me!

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  • Real Parents. Real Food. Real Fun.

    Welcome to Adventures in Drool! Talking about green living, getting rid of plastics and toxic chemicals in our homes and raising happy kids on a budget. Join the conversation ( and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!

    Rachel Swick Mavity, author of the blog, lives with a reformed drooler (Droolface), who at age 3 loves to get muddy, drink homemade smoothies, giggle and flirt with old ladies. Her current drooler (Birdy) enjoys spitting up on work clothes and leaving drool trails as a way of showing her love.

    Mavity previously worked as a journalist for seven years at newspapers from Pennsylvania to Maryland and Delaware. In Sussex County she worked for several newspapers, including the Cape Gazette. She lives in Lewes with her husband, Ryan Mavity, their son, "Droolface," and daughter, "Birdy."