First, let’s start with the definition of the endocrine system.

What is the endocrine system?

The endocrine system is a complex network of glands, hormones, and receptors. It provides the key communication and control link between the nervous system and bodily functions such as reproduction, immunity, metabolism, and behavior.

What are endocrine disruptors?

Chemicals are an essential component of our daily lives. But some chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors, can have harmful effects on the body’s endocrine (hormone) system. Hormones act in very small amounts and at precise moments in time to regulate the body’s development, growth, reproduction, metabolism, immunity, and behavior. Endocrine disruptors interfere with natural hormone systems, and the health effects can be felt long after the exposure has stopped. Exposure to endocrine disruptors in the womb can have life-long effects and can even have consequences for the next generation.

To learn more, read: Endocrine Disruptors: What They Are & How To Avoid Them

What are some of the known endocrine disruptors found in cosmetic and grooming products?

Most common endocrine disrupting chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products
<figcaption>Most common endocrine disrupting chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products. Trade name, CAS number and demonstrated hormonal activities.</figcaption>

Parabens: Often found in many cleansers, soaps, and moisturizers, parabens are preservatives that are also endocrine disruptors, which means they can interfere with essential hormonal functions in the body and potentially cause chronic conditions over time.

Sulfates: A petrochemical byproduct, sulfates can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions and are commonly found in things like body wash.

Phthalates: Used to make fragrances stick to skin, many scented cleaners and moisturizers contain phthalates, which can also be endocrine disruptors.

Synthetic Fragrance: Under the law to protect “trade secrets,” companies are not required to disclose what is actually in their fragrance—it could potentially contain a whole host of toxic chemicals that can cause allergic reactions and more.

Benzalkonium Chloride: Used as a preservative, this ingredient has been associated with skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and is often used in moisturizers.

Butylated hydroxy Anisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene: These are synthetic antioxidants that are likely carcinogenic and may cause liver damage.

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA): A binding agent, EDTA may cause organ damage and is found in many moisturizers and lotions.

Polyethylene glycol: Also found in creams, this ingredient and other PEG compounds may be carcinogenic, depending on how they are processed.

Oxybenzone: This ingredient is found in sunscreen as well as moisturizers that have sunscreen in it. It’s been linked to things like skin sensitization, allergic reactions, and hormone disruption.

Formaldehyde: Yep. This known carcinogen is found in many body washes and shampoos.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLES): Also found in various kinds of soaps, SLS and SLES are petroleum byproducts that can potentially cause irritation and allergic reactions.

Triclosan: Used as an anti-bacterial agent, and can be found in toothpaste, soaps, and hand washes. It is known to have hormone-disrupting properties.

PFAS: Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances ( PFAS ) are added to some cosmetics, such as foundations and moisturizing creams, to help them penetrate the skin. Some PFAS have hormone-disrupting traits. Coop Denmark has banned all cosmetics containing PFAS from its shops because of concerns over these harmful chemicals.

Flouride: Used in toothpaste. Found in tap water.

Kojic acid

4-Methylbenzylidene camphor





Benzyl salicylate



Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate(EHMC)

Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)




Butylphenyl methyl propanol


Triphenyl phosphate


Some adverse effects of EDCs in humans.
<figcaption>Some adverse effects of EDCs in humans.</figcaption>
Studies exploring associations between exposure to cosmetics- and PCPs-released EDCs and endometriosis.
<figcaption>Studies exploring associations between exposure to cosmetics- and PCPs-released EDCs and endometriosis.</figcaption>

Read More: Endocrine Disruptors: What They Are & How To Avoid Them

Read More: Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products and Risk of Endometriosis

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