The hidden world of endocrine disruptors in beauty (2022)

By now, we may have realised that the beauty industry isn't as glamorous and glossy as we are led to believe. The beauty realm is littered with toxins from plastics to synthetics; you only need to glance at the packaging to realise our favourite products are full of toxic chemicals. Beauty is not clean; it turns out that our favourite beauty essentials are wreaking havoc on our hormones. With these concoctions of chemicals in our cosmetic bags, it's no wonder beauty-lovers are left contemplating what we really swipe on our skin.


As brands continue to pump our potions with some pretty gross ingredients, not surprisingly, this can cause adverse effects on our health. Cosmetics are secretly packaged with chemicals that alter our body's carefully regulated hormonal system. This ingredient group is called endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs); these chemicals mimic hormones and create lots of confusion for your body.


The endocrine system is the system that secretes your hormones into the blood through glands. "Hormones act as messengers in the body, responsible for regulating how the body functions," says naturopathic doctor, Dr Danielle Desroche. This involves regulating the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone and the pancreas gland, which produces insulin. The endocrine system also controls the thyroid hormone, the adrenal gland, and the pituitary gland, which releases growth hormones. The endocrine system regulates sugar levels, growth and development, sexual function, mood and sleep. Essentially a healthy endocrine system is vital for a healthy life.


"Endocrine disruptors is the collective name for chemicals which have been shown to interfere with normal hormone behaviour in our bodies," says CEO, Thalie Martini from the Breast Cancer UK charity. These chemicals, synthetic or natural, alter the natural rhythm of the endocrine system impacting our health. These chemicals trick our hormones into disrupting natural behaviour, such as artificially increasing levels of estrogen. From lipsticks to moisturisers, EDCs are abundant in our cosmetics and unfortunately elude many ingredients list, making them extremely difficult to avoid when browsing the beauty shelves.

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These hidden hormone disruptors are linked with varying issues from developmental, reproductive to immune problems. Unfortunately, endocrine disorders are increasing across the globe as we continue to smother ourselves in toxic products. "Many cosmetics and beauty products we use daily contain chemicals which are known or suspected EDCs and have been linked to adverse health effects such as diabetes, thyroid problems and hormonal cancers," follows Martini.


As our bodies pump round unnatural levels of estrogen, it's no wonder women are struggling with infertility, PMS, mood swings and unwanted weight gain. Yikes! "We are exposed to 80,000 toxins each day!" says Dr Desroche. It comes as no surprise then that our health is taking its toll.


"Endocrine disruptors can mimic, block, or interfere with hormones in the body. Hormones are responsible for essential biological processes. When these processes are disrupted or changed, this can lead to cell damage including DNA damage, which can lead to cancer," says Martini. One of the most significant risks from exposure to EDCs is that estrogen dominance can cause hormone-dependent cancers, such as ovarian, breast and uterine in women and prostate cancer in men.


"Endocrine disruptors in cosmetics are readily absorbed into our skin like a sponge, and once absorbed, have a systemic effect on our hormones," says Dr Desroche. And while we continue to smear our skin in cosmetics, it's no wonder "some EDCs build up inside our bodies over time," says Martini. Our exposure to EDCs can be like a ticking time bomb leading to some nasty and unwanted side effects. "This is of particular concern to us as some endocrine disruptors have been shown to influence the development of breast cancer," follows Martini.

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These hormone-disruptors are a challenge to avoid because they are prevalent across the world, from house-hold chemicals to food and beauty. "While more research is needed, we know that exposure to even a small amount of endocrine-disrupting toxins can have a negative impact on our health," says Dr Desroche. Our daily routines and products are overflowing with endocrine disruptors. Our exposure to EDCs can add up pretty quickly when we can use up to 15 products a day on our body, which contain hundreds of different and potentially dangerous ingredients. Our cosmetics are filled with dyes, preservatives, parabens and UV filters, all disrupting the natural rhythm of the body.


Our beauty bags contain numerous hormone disruptors, below is a list of these EDCs that you should know, including chemicals that are used widely in lipstick. Yuck! At HIGHR, you can trust that these substances will never be found in our products. As we ingest lipstick, it's essential to detox from these chemicals when we swipe on our favourite shade. If there is only one clean swap you can make, we suggest it should be your lipstick.


These skin conditioning agents, also known as D4 and D5, have been labeled as “human endocrine disruptors - strong evidence” but are still on the ingredient listings of best selling concealers and the buzziest lipsticks in the beauty market. Steer clear of these (anything ending in “siloxane”). They’ve been linked to detrimental issues for women including fertility interference and uterine tumors. They have also been proven to be environmentally toxic, bioaccumulating in aquatic life.


Phthalates are found in cosmetics from fragrance to lipsticks and lotions; these elusive EDCs are hard to detect on the ingredients list. Look to see if your product is fragranced, under this label-listing loophole fragrance is an umbrella term to sneak in these hidden hormone-disrupting chemicals. It might smell like roses, but it is far from clean. Research suggests that these chemicals can damage the reproductive system, the lungs and can also be linked to the development of breast cancer.

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UV Filters are found in sunscreen and cosmetics which have sun protection in, such as moisturiser or lip balm. These products contain the chemical Oxybenzone, which is not only detrimental to the health of the oceans but can also act as an EDC. Oxybenzone is a chemical you may want to sidestep in your skincare routine as it can impact your thyroid and reproductive functions.


Parabens are another hot topic in the beauty world and are commonly found in personal care and cosmetics. Parabens are preservatives to prolong shelf life and are suggested to have estrogenic activity. Parabens are one of the most controversial EDCs due to the damage they can cause and are unfortunately a basic beauty essential when it comes to cosmetic production. This cheap preservative mimics estrogen in the body and can cause hormonally related cancers. Look out for ingredients that contain propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl- and isobutyl-parabens.


Triclosan is an antibacterial compound which is commonly found in soaps, toothpaste and handwashes. This is another chemical to avoid as it can interfere with thyroid hormones and estrogen regulation, leading to unwanted side effects.


Found in treatments for problems such as acne, eczema and psoriasis, Resorcinol is listed on the European Union's Category one list for endocrine disruptors and has been linked to thyroid disease.

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It might be confusing to think of pesticides in our beauty regimes, but while natural beauty is on the rise, we must be aware of how plants are harvested for our products. We should avoid pesticides not only in our cosmetics but also in our food as these pesticides can cause adverse effects on human health.


It's argued our most widespread exposure to EDCs is plastic. As they wreak havoc on oceans, wildlife and ecosystems, they also leach harmful chemicals into the surrounding environment. A chemical concern is BPA; this popular endocrine disruptor causes major issues to your health. We recommend reducing your plastic consumption not only for the sake of the planet but for your health too.


"Because our environment is saturated with endocrine disruptors …it's important to choose cosmetics without these hormone-disrupting chemicals. Making thoughtful choices about what we put on our skin can help reduce our overall daily exposure to endocrine disruptors," says Dr Desroche. While the beauty industry continues to seep out these concoctions of chemicals into our products and ultimately onto our skin, we must have more of a say on what ingredients goes on our body. The cosmetic world hides beneath chemical jargon that requires a degree to decipher, every small step towards cleaner choices can significantly help in reducing your exposure to EDCs and taking back control of your health.


We understand it can seem daunting to start your toxic-free beauty routine, so at HIGHR, we recommend taking extra care to areas where we are more vulnerable to exposure. As we can ingest up to seven pounds of lipstick in our lifetime, we suggest you start here. Lipstick should be your first clean swap. At HIGHR you won't find any hidden hormone-disrupting chemicals, just clean, green beauty.

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This is HIGHR, lipstick redone with your health and well-being in mind.


- Esme Bourne

FAQs

What products have hidden endocrine disruptor chemicals? ›

The first in the list of EDCs is probably one of the most commonly known: parabens. They are used as a preservative in makeup, lotion, hair care products, shaving creams, toothpaste, suntan products, personal lubricant, and some deodorants.

Are endocrine disruptors found in cosmetics? ›

The main route of exposure is the skin, but the main endpoint of exposure is endocrine disruption. This is due to many substances in cosmetics and sunscreens that have endocrine active properties which affect reproductive health but which also have other endpoints, such as cancer.

What are most common endocrine disruptors in skincare? ›

Among these endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), parabens, benzophenones, bisphenols, and phthalates are the most widely found in these products.

What beauty products disrupt hormones? ›

1. Avoid parabens in beauty products. Parabens are a controversial ingredient and can be found in many every day beauty products. They're used as a type of preservative, to prolong shelf life, but are widely believed to disrupt hormone function by mimicking oestrogen.

How do you cleanse the body of endocrine disruptors? ›

For 7 basic tips for any good hormone detox, keep reading!
  1. Add probiotics to your diet, such as yogurt or fermented vegetables. ...
  2. Avoid processed foods that are high in endocrine-disrupting chemicals and low in essential nutrients. ...
  3. Eat more broccoli and fiber-rich foods to move excess estrogen through your digestive tract.

Is Vaseline an endocrine disruptor? ›

Many products (including petroleum jelly) contain chemicals called xenoestrogens which may increase estrogen problems in the body. Studies have shown that these chemicals may act on hormone receptors in the body and lead to estrogen dominance.

What are 4 common products containing endocrine disruptors? ›

Endocrine disruptors are found in many everyday products, including some plastic bottles and containers, liners of metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides.

What foods are high in endocrine disruptors? ›

Farmed meats and fish raised on an un-natural diet that is focused on producing quantity but not quality may contain high levels of hormones, antibiotics, PCBs, and mercury. These are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)—they come into your body and send your hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, into a tailspin.

Are all perfumes endocrine disruptors? ›

They found problematic substances in all 20 perfumes and only two without any suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals. CHEM Trust is working hard to make sure harmful chemicals are not used in consumer products.

Can you reverse endocrine disruptors? ›

You can't eliminate all contact with endocrine disruptors, but you can reduce your contact.

How can I increase my beauty hormones? ›

10 Natural Ways to Balance Your Hormones
  1. Eat enough protein at every meal. ...
  2. Engage in regular exercise. ...
  3. Maintain a moderate weight. ...
  4. Take care of your gut health. ...
  5. Lower your sugar intake. ...
  6. Try stress reduction techniques. ...
  7. Consume healthy fats. ...
  8. Get consistent, high quality sleep.

Is Botox a hormone disruptor? ›

Answer: No. BOTOX is formulated with botulinum toxin, a substance that is able to interfere with the transmission of signals sent to glands and muscles. There are no hormones or cortisone in the product.

Which hormone is responsible for female beauty? ›

The oestrogen female face was consistently rated as more attractive, feminine and healthy looking. Future studies should address the nature of facial cues related to hormone levels.

What hormone controls women's appearance? ›

Estrogen is involved when a girl starts puberty. During puberty, a girl will have breast growth, start to accumulate body fat around the hips and thighs, and have a growth spurt. Estrogen and progesterone are also involved in the regulation of a girl's menstrual cycle. These hormones also play a role in pregnancy.

How can I regulate my hormones for clear skin? ›

6 Ways To Fight Your Hormonal Imbalance Acne
  1. Over-the-counter Cleansers. Over-the-counter cleansers are often the first line of defense to try against pesky pimples. ...
  2. Topical Retinoids. ...
  3. Oral-contraceptive Pills. ...
  4. Spironolactone (Anti-Androgen Drugs) ...
  5. Accutane. ...
  6. Clean Up Your Diet.

How can I heal my endocrine system naturally? ›

Here are some ways to naturally balance your hormones.
  1. Get enough protein. ...
  2. Exercise regularly. ...
  3. Maintain a moderate weight. ...
  4. Watch your gut health. ...
  5. Lower sugar intake. ...
  6. Reduce stress. ...
  7. Get enough sleep. ...
  8. Eat healthy fats.

Are endocrine disruptors permanent? ›

Some endocrine disruptors remain in the body for years and others are excreted relatively quickly.

Is soap an endocrine disruptor? ›

ANTIBACTERIAL SOAPS DISRUPT HORMONE FUNCTION

The key ingredient in these soaps, triclosan, is an example of an endocrine disruptor—an environmental compound that disrupts hormone function in the body.

Is almond oil a hormone disruptor? ›

Most of the sweet almond oils available in supermarkets contain chemicals, which are considered as endocrine disruptors.

Is ibuprofen an endocrine disruptor? ›

Overall, this study shows that prolonged intake of high-dose ibuprofen (1,200 mg/day for 6 weeks) gives rise to severe endocrine disruptor effects in young males, leading to a condition known as “compensated hypogonadism”.

What fabrics are endocrine disruptors? ›

Put away the polyester.

Even the clothes we wear can be a source of endocrine disruptors, especially if they're made from polyester. "Polyester pajamas are generally treated with flame retardant," says Schmid. "People should choose natural fabrics like cotton, wool, hemp, and silk over synthetic ones like polyester."

Is caffeine an endocrine disruptor? ›

Caffeine can disrupt your hormonal cascade.

Caffeine itself can cause your body to produce extra cortisol. And while cortisol isn't always bad (the steroid hormone helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels and regulates blood sugar), high cortisol levels can affect your body's ability to regulate inflammation.

Are eggs endocrine disruptors? ›

Foodstuffs in which EDCs can accumulate include meat, fish, eggs, and milk.

Is Lavender an endocrine disruptor? ›

Lavender oil and tea tree oil contain compounds that mimic or oppose the actions of sex hormones and may be considered endocrine disruptors. Persistent exposure to lavender products is associated with premature breast development in girls, according to new research by NIEHS scientists.

Which fruit is best for hormones? ›

Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries are all hormone balancing foods packed with great nutrients. Berries are rich sources of vitamin C, which regulates your progesterone levels, particularly during the luteal (PMS) phase of your cycle [1].

Is green tea a hormone disruptor? ›

Green tea extract and EGCG, the major catechin in green tea, both suppress the activity of estrogen via ERα and block ERα-dependent transcription [36, 37]. Our results suggest that EGCG also has the ability to suppress the activity of environmental estrogens.

What foods affect female hormones? ›

4 Foods That Throw off Your Hormonal Balance
  • Red Meat. Red meat contains high amounts of saturated and hydrogenated fats which are considered unhealthy types of fat. ...
  • Processed Foods. Processed and refined foods have been linked to various health issues. ...
  • Caffeine. ...
  • Soy and Dairy products.

Do Sunscreens contain endocrine disruptors? ›

BP-3 and OMC are two common sunscreen ingredients that are also known to have endocrine-disrupting potential 8. While they are mainly used as UV filter in sunscreens, they are also prevalent in air, drinking water, cosmetics, fragrances and plastic packagings, providing additional routes of exposure to humans 9.

Is broccoli a hormone disruptor? ›

Broccoli contains molecules called glucosinolates which may inhibit iodine uptake and thyroid hormone formation, particularly in the event of an existing iodine deficiency. Eating brassica vegetables in moderation, cooking them, and adequate iodine intake can reduce these effects.

Is alcohol an endocrine disruptor? ›

Chronic consumption of a large amount of alcohol disrupts the communication between nervous, endocrine and immune system and causes hormonal disturbances that lead to profound and serious consequences at physiological and behavioral levels.

Do endocrine disruptors affect the brain? ›

Unfortunately, the brain is highly vulnerable to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can cause widespread disruption of hormone receptors, enzymes, and nerve signals. The renewal, maintenance, and death of neurons are also highly hormone-sensitive.

What hormone makes skin glow? ›

Dopamine improves microcirculation

This hormone is responsible for the emotional response to certain situations. Dopamine is doing wonders when it comes to microcirculation while it helps recover the damage of your skin barrier. Dopamine is the main “culprit” of your glowing skin.

Does estrogen make you prettier? ›

High-estradiol women were considered significantly more physically attractive by themselves and others,” Durante and colleagues wrote. The high-estrogen women also reported more sexual behavior -- especially outside of a relationship, although it was not linked to one-night stands.

What makes a woman's face glow? ›

Naturally glowing skin is typically skin that is healthy and hydrated. People can work towards this by gradually implementing a skin care routine, as well as by making changes to their diet or lifestyle where necessary. Smoking, alcohol, and UV light can all damage skin health, so avoid these where possible.

Does Retinol disrupt hormones? ›

Retinol significantly decreased both hormone levels, however retinoic acid decreased the progesterone level only.

Who should not get cosmetic Botox? ›

If you are in poor general health, your skin is very thick or you have existing muscle weakness in the proposed injection site, you may not be a good candidate for Botox. Patients with sensitive skin may experience an allergic reaction at the injection site.

Can Botox trigger an autoimmune disease? ›

Because your immune system is hypersensitive in Hashimoto's disease, foreign substances and toxins can be aggravating to an already inflamed system. One case study of a woman with Hashimoto's thyroiditis found that cosmetic Botox injections may have a link to the cause of autoimmune thyroiditis.

Does estrogen make you look younger? ›

Your skin also becomes thinner, because the levels of collagen and elastin also dip along with estrogen. The hormone estrogen is responsible for making skin look younger due to the hyaluronic acid it produces. Estrogen not only affects your skin but also your muscle mass, metabolism, and energy levels.

Which hormone is known as anti aging? ›

This review considers four popular and easily obtainable anti-aging hormones: melatonin, growth hormone, testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Many of the benefits of using these hormones, which are promoted in the lay literature, are based on animal studies and weak associations.

Does taking collagen increase estrogen levels? ›

Studies have consistently shown a positive correlation between collagen and estrogen levels. That means the more collagen you have, the more estrogen you're likely to have.

What hormone causes horniness in females? ›

According to the review, scientists believe that estradiol, one of the three types of estrogen hormone, increases sexual arousal in females. The fact that postmenopausal females who report a lack of sexual desire have lower levels of estradiol circulating in their blood supports this idea.

Do hormones affect the way you look? ›

Hormones Affect Skin Health in a Variety of Ways

Your hormones don't just control how you feel — they can impact the health of your skin, too. “Hormones play a key role in skin health. We know this because certain hormonal disorders manifest themselves in the skin and hair, in addition to internally,” says S.

Does progesterone make you look younger? ›

Ever wonder why pregnant women seem to have that special glow? The secret is the high level of progesterone. This revitalizing hormone is beneficial for skin elasticity and circulation. Progesterone levels decline with menopause as well as with stress.

Which is hormone secret by skin? ›

Hormone Activity on Human Skin

Particularly, growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1, neuropeptides, sexual steroids, glucocorticoids, retinoids, vitamin D, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ligands and eicosanoids are major examples of hormones been active on the skin.

Does progesterone help with sagging skin? ›

Progesterone: Increases elasticity and firmness of the skin. Maintains skin hydration. When balanced with estrogen levels, it can help estrogen function more effectively.

What are examples of endocrine-disrupting chemicals? ›

Examples of endocrine disruptors include:
  • Bisphenol A (BPA). Some food storage containers contain this chemical.
  • Dioxins. ...
  • Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). ...
  • Phthalates. ...
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB). ...
  • Triclosan.
7 Apr 2022

What substances are suspected endocrine disruptors? ›

The group of molecules identified as endocrine disruptors is highly heterogeneous and includes synthetic chemicals used as industrial solvents/lubricants and their byproducts [polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), dioxins], plastics [bisphenol A (BPA)], plasticizers (phthalates), pesticides ...

Is hydrogen peroxide an endocrine disruptor? ›

In general, H2O2 and hypochlorite can be endogenously produced in human, which suggested that the two compounds are potential endocrine disruption compounds (EDCs) as they can cause endocrine disruption via inhibition of arylsulfatase and β-glucuronidase.

How do you fix endocrine disruptors? ›

9 Ways to Avoid Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals
  1. Wash your hands. ...
  2. Dust and vacuum often. ...
  3. Turn up your nose at fragrances. ...
  4. Think twice about plastics. ...
  5. Say “no can do” to cans. ...
  6. Watch what you eat. ...
  7. Filter your tap water. ...
  8. Rethink kids' cosmetics.
18 Jan 2016

Is perfume an endocrine disruptor? ›

Some of the chemicals mimic estrogen, and the others had thyroid effects. (2) That's shocking, and a really important reason to stay away from chemical perfumes at all cost. The bottom line here is that yes, perfume is toxic and it certainly disrupts the endocrine system among other body systems as well.

Does toothpaste have endocrine disruptors? ›

Recent studies suggest triclosan may increase a child's risk of allergy. It is also an endocrine disruptor. It is wise for parents to make sure that personal care products purchased for use by children are free of triclosan. This includes toothpaste, mouthwash, hand soap, shampoo, lotions, crèmes and deodorant.

What does hydrogen peroxide do to your insides? ›

Hydrogen peroxide can also exert a direct cytotoxic effect via lipid peroxidation. Ingestion of hydrogen peroxide may cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract with nausea, vomiting, haematemesis and foaming at the mouth; the foam may obstruct the respiratory tract or result in pulmonary aspiration.

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