Well! Speaking evidentially, yes. What you put on the skin may affect hormones. The Central for Disease Control and Prevention's report titled 'Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals' underlines that an average person in the US has at least 212 chemicals in their urine and blood. A few other pieces of research show that some skin or hair care products may lead to early puberty or early sexual maturation and increase breast cancer risk later in life.

So, what happens when the chemicals in beauty products impact our hormones? Our endocrine system that regulates several biological processes, including reproduction and metabolism, goes haywire. A malfunctioning endocrine system can trigger many diseases such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, PCOS/PCOD, Cushing's Syndrome, and Acromegaly.

How Do Skin Care Products Affect Women's Hormone Health?

The skin is the body's largest organ and systemically absorbs whatever we apply to it. Typically, the liver 'biotransforms' chemicals absorbed topically or environmentally, detoxifying the body. However, certain chemicals still get absorbed into the bloodstream and interfere with hormonal functions, thus adding to the body's toxicity load. These chemicals, whether synthetic or natural, are known as endocrine disruptors. They mimic the body's natural hormones and disturb the production, release, metabolization, binding, action, or removal of the body's natural hormones. Endocrine disruption messes up the messages that natural hormones send from one cell to another. Usually, hormones attach to hormone receptors like a lock and key. When the key is right, it unlocks the message to regulate body functions. Hormone disruptors also follow the same process but transfer the wrong messages. Take phthalates (a chemical found in many cosmetics) as an example. It targets testosterone as well as estrogen receptors. Even low-level but continuous exposure to phthalate increases the risk for fertility disorders and cancer. Phthalates can also affect the release of hypothalamic, peripheral, and pituitary hormones.

Though genetic, environmental, and lifestyle management also play a role in developing illnesses, exposure to products that cause hormonal imbalance is also a significant factor in developing reproductive disorders, breast and uterine cancer, immunity-related diseases, and neurological diseases.

What Skin Care Ingredients Are Hormone Disruptors?

Here are the five most common hormone disruptors in skin care products you might be using every day.

  • Parabens: These ubiquitously found chemicals have been linked to breast cancer tumors. Types of parabens include propylparaben, methylparaben, benzylparaben, ethylparaben, butyiparaben, and isobutylparaben.
  • Phthalates: Frequently used but not mentioned on the labels, phthalates are often found in products listing 'fragrance' as one of the ingredients.
  • Triclosan: It is added as an antibacterial agent to soaps, handwashes, hand sanitizers, etc. However, triclosan has been marked as a hormone and a thyroid disruptor.
  • Hydroquinone: Yes! This holy grail for treating hyperpigmentation can hurt your skin in many ways. It reduces the skin's collagen and elastin wherever applied and may irritate your skin. In addition, some scientists believe that it is carcinogenic.
  • Oxybenzone: Many sunscreen lotions, creams, and gels contain oxybenzone, a chemical sunscreen. However, just because it is used commonly does not mean it is safe. It may cause skin allergies, eye irritation, affects estrogen production particularly in women, and testosterone levels in men.

Though many skin care products contain hormonal disruptors, you may avoid these nasties by choosing clean skin care products. Besides, read labels carefully, and avoid buying products with unspecified ingredients (for example, 'base,'' 'fragrance') listed on them.

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