I thought we would turn our attention today to phthalates. 

PHTHALATES! Eek! What does that mean?

Are phthalates harmful?

What an awkward word, derived originally from the word naphthalene, the chemical used for mothballs. In 2003 the European Union banned phthalates in body care products. The United States still allows them. What are they used for, and where are they found?

They are several chemicals used to soften plastic. All those bendable plastic containers are flexible because of the phthalates added to the plastic. Hard plastic containers do not contain phthalates. Small amounts of phthalates added to body care products also make them flexible and help to suspend the fragrances in the air. It is easy to understand why nail polish and hair spray would contain phthalates, because they make the surface of nails and hair durable and flexible. Phthalates help cosmetics stick to the skin, so are helpful in eye makeup. They act as propellants and fixatives in fragrances. Thus they are often added to air fresheners, hand sanitizers, and perfume. This is why some of those “heavy duty” perfumes seem to last so long. When heated the effective propellants help the artificial fragrances in candles hang in the air a long time. These artificial fragrances have no aromatherapy benefit, but they stick around a long time. They are much more likely to cause allergic reactions than essential oil fragrances.

Compare these to essential oils that evaporate quickly, but may change your mood from dull to joyful, help you to relax at night, brighten your spirits, create a romantic appeal, heal your burns, or ease the pain of sore muscles. Phthalates are artificial and are found in fragrance oils and other artificial fragrances. Essential oils are pure plant oils and should be indicated only as essential oils.

Remember that everything you put onto your skin is absorbed into the body and must be cleansed by the liver and kidneys. Pregnant women, infants and small children are particularly likely to be adversely affected by phthalates. Read labels. Watch for 2-ethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP) and debutyl phthalate (DBP), and avoid them.

White vinegar is great for cleaning, put a washcloth with lavender or peppermint into the dryer to have lovely smelling dry clothes. After a short time your nose will know when a fragrance is artificial. Be true to yourself and protect your family.