alive logo

Personal Care Products May Increase Diabetes Risk in Women


What are we really putting on our face or body? A recent study shows that phthalates in personal care products may increase the risk of diabetes in women.

We all want to look our best and smell good. Beyond making us feel good about ourselves, looking good is a cultural expectation—as is smelling good. But many of the personal care products we use each day contain chemicals called phthalates. A recent study shows that phthalates may be increasing the risk of diabetes in women.

What are phthalates?

Phthalates have garnered a lot of attention in recent years. They’re synthetic chemicals that are used as industrial plasticizers. They’re found in a wide variety of products, including toys, waxes, paints, detergents, glues, building materials—and personal care products.

What’s bad about phthalates?

Besides being recognized as endocrine disruptors, phthalates may cause diabetes in women. A recent study of 2,350 women found the following associations:

  • twice the risk of diabetes in women with  the highest levels of mono-benzyl phthalate and mono-isobutyl phthalate compared to women with the lowest levels of these chemicals
  • 60 percent increased risk of diabetes in women with higher than median levels of mono-3-carboxypropyl phthalate
  • 70 percent increased risk of diabetes in women with moderately high levels of mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate

What products contain phthalates?

Some of the most widely used culprits are

  • moisturizers
  • eye shadow
  • nail polishes
  • soaps
  • hair sprays
  • perfumes

What can you do?

It’s been estimated that women put 515 chemicals on their bodies each day. Just for fun, count the number of products you use in your shower, on your hair, and on your skin. And don’t forget to include your nail products and makeup. Then run your products through the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to find out what chemicals you’re putting into your body.

Are you paying too high a price to look good? Natural and organic makeups are much safer options. Check out your local health food retailer for safer cosmetic and personal care products.

Research caution

Researchers warn that the women in this study self-reported their diabetes. Phthalates are also contained in medical equipment, and possibly in the devices and medication used to treat diabetes. More research is required to establish true causation.



Innovation for Good: K9s For Warriors and Project Street Vet

Innovation for Good: K9s For Warriors and Project Street Vet

Neil ZevnikNeil Zevnik