Can The Endocrine System Be Affected by the Chemicals in Skin Care?

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We are living in a world where we are becoming more conscious of what we consume and we know that processed food is bad for our health. Demand for organic products and produce are on the rise. So what is all the fuss about organic products ? One of the reasons could be that  because our skin is the biggest organ in the body and has many receptors that interact with ingredients in our skin care products, and we might not be fully aware of the potential side effects of certain ingredients in our skincare products that might contain harmful ingredients that can have negative repercussions down the line.

In this article, we will briefly discuss endocrine disruptors.

What are Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and Why Are They Harmful?

 An endocrine disruptor can be defined as any chemical having the capability to interrupt the hormonal functions in your body. Such chemicals can derive from natural sources such as soy; however, most of these disruptors are synthetic.

Prolonged exposure can lead to several health conditions and might even cause irreversible damage to the organs and organ malfunctions in the long term.

What is the Endocrine system?

The endocrine system is a series of glands that produce and secrete hormones that the body uses for a wide range of functions. These control many different bodily functions, including:

  • Respiration
  • Metabolism
  • Reproduction
  • Sensory perception
  • Movement
  • Sexual development
  • Growth 

Hormones are produced by glands and sent into the bloodstream to the various tissues in the body. They send signals to those tissues to tell them what they are supposed to do. When the glands do not produce the right amount of hormones, diseases develop that can affect many aspects of life.

The main producing hormones

  • Hypothalamus :The hypothalamus is responsible for body temperature, hunger, moods and the release of hormones from other glands; and also controls thirst, sleep and sex drive.
  •  Pituitary:Considered the "master control gland," the pituitary gland controls other glands and makes the hormones that trigger growth.
  •  Parathyroid:This gland controls the amount of calcium in the body.
  •  Pancreas:This gland produces the insulin that helps control blood sugar levels.
  •  Thyroid:The thyroid produces hormones associated with calorie burning and heart rate.
  •  Adrenal:Adrenal glands produce the hormones that control sex drive and cortisol, the stress hormone.
  •  Pineal:This gland produces melatonin which affect sleep.
  •  Ovaries:Only in women, the ovaries secrete estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, the female sex hormones.
  •  Testes: Only in men, the testes produce the male sex hormone, testosterone, and produce sperm.


Chemical linked health issues

Endocrine disruptors have the ability to modify neural transmission. Some studies have shown that these chemicals have a role in causing neurological disorders such as depression, autism, and learning disabilities and some linked to health conditions such as cancer, neurodegenerative and pulmonary conditions.

Some examples of  the most common synthetic chemicals found in skin and body care products are;

  • Phthalates
  • Plastics
  • Parabens
  • Pesticides

According to some studies, synthetic fragrances and phthalates can have an adverse impact on thyroid irregularities and the reproductive system.

Phthalates Risk

Over the years, there has been increasing evidence and studies conducted by research scientists linking phthalates to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.

While phthalates is a huge class of chemicals and, several have been shown to have negative health impact.

Some of these are:

Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP), dibutyl phthalate (DnBP), di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-butyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), diisobutyl phthalate (DiBP), diisononyl phthalate (DiNP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), dipentyl phthalate (DPP), di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), di-isohexyl phthalate, dicyclohexyl phthalate (DcHP), and di-isoheptyl phthalate.

Go Paraben Free

Parabens are a type of preservative that can be found in many commercial products. Too much exposure to this synthetic additive can disrupt hormonal function by imitating estrogen. When there is too much estrogen in the body, the cell division will be triggered and can accelerate tumor growth.


One example of a commonly used pesticide, Chlorpyrifos is moderately toxic to humans, and exposure has been linked to neurological effects, persistent developmental disorders, and autoimmune disorders. Most use in homes has been banned since 2001 in the U.S. In agriculture, it remains “one of the most widely used organophosphate insecticides”. Another pesticide called Phosmet, found on certain ingredients used for cosmetic and skin care about 5% of the time, has a moderately high toxicity through the skin.

Don’t panic!

It is of course difficult to completely ditch products that contain these ingredients as it is unfortunately very common in many skincare brands. Don’t be overly fearful if your product contains some of these ingredients as it does take prolonged exposure over years for these chemicals to inflict long term damage. However we should try to make a conscious effort to switch over to a more natural skin care product wherever possible. A good habit to inculcate is to learn how to read labels as a start, or to speak to your dermatologist or medical professional for recommendations. Visit us at or sign up for our newsletter here  for updates and more articles ! Please also help us share this article with your friends!

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