Toxins in Personal Care Products—Men Are Also At Risk

Usually when we talk about toxins in personal products, we focus on women. After all, they typically use more personal care products on a daily basis. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted in one study that exposure to phthalates (a plastic chemical linked to hormone disruption) was widespread, but higher in women than men. The researchers stated that women had more phthalates used in “soaps, body washes, shampoos, cosmetics, and similar personal care products.”

According to the University of Illinois, the average woman in the United States uses 12 products a day. But women aren’t the only ones. The average man uses six. Worse, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics notes that those six personal care products may contain more than 80 unique chemicals.

If men count up the number of products they use per day, including toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, aftershave, deodorant, moisturizer, sunscreen, hair gel, and more, they may find a daily number higher than six—meaning they could be absorbing and breathing in even more than 80 chemicals a day.

Men Using More Products Than Ever

An April 2013 report in The National indicated that over the next five years, men are expected to drive an increase in spending on personal care products in the United Arab Emirates—and we’re seeing the same increase here in the States.

If you’re wondering what might be lurking in your products that could be bad for your health, here are a few examples:

  • Phthalates: Linked with childhood asthma, diabetes, and developmental problems, phthalates like diethyl phthalate (DEP) are often found in cologne, aftershave, shaving cream, shampoos, and deodorants. In fact, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reports that Quicksilver, Calvin Cline Eternity for Men, and Old Spice After Hours Body Spray all contain DEP.
  • Lead acetate: A known reproductive toxicant, lead acetate is found in men’s hair and beard colorants, including Men’s Grecian Hair Formula and Youthair Hair Color for Men.
  • Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen, formaldehyde is found in many shampoos and body washes. It can also trigger allergic reactions.
  • Triclosan: A popular antibacterial, this ingredient is found in soaps and deodorants, but is linked with hormone disruption, and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial.

 How to Protect Yourself

Why not choose safer products? There’s really no need to risk your health with personal care products that contain questionable ingredients. Instead, try these tips:

  1. Check your products against the Skin Deep Database to see how hazardous they may be. Look for those with 0-2 ratings.
  2. Start reading labels. Look for more than just the masculine colors and names—what’s inside the product is what matters. If you see a lot of ingredients you can’t pronounce, consider looking in your Whole Foods store or local organic section for better options.
  3. Avoid products with ingredients like triclosan, fragrance, PEGs, parabens, DMDM hydantoin, and the other ingredients listed here.
  4. Instead of aftershave, try CV Skinlabs Rescue + Relief Spray—full of soothing, natural ingredients that will instantly cool, calm, and soften your skin.

Guys, do you find yourself being more careful of the personal care products you use?


Gillian Duncan, “Men to drive rise in UAE spending for personal-care products this year,” The National, April 23, 2013,