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Dermatologist's Earth Day Celebration

Dermatologist's Earth Day Celebration

Discover real, non-toxic skin care and home care products

Celebrating Mother Earth with a re-evaluation of the personal and home care products we use is right this year. It’s now common knowledge that the skin care and home cleaning choices we make impact our planet. We don’t live in isolation.

Skin care products wash down your drain and into the local waterways, eventually entering the aquatic ecosystems. What accumulates in the environment affects all life, fish, foul, animals – and ultimately, comes back to our families in the form of the water we drink and the food we eat.

Some of the least eco-friendly personal skin care products include those made with synthetic fragrances and antibacterial ingredients like phthalates.

What are phthalates in skin care and home cleaning products?

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in artificial fragrance to help enhance it and make it last. Phthalates are used “in hundreds of products,” including body lotions and body washes with fragrance,
according to the FDA. In fact, when you see “fragrance” listed as an ingredient, it potentially contains phthalates. The most commonly used phthalate in personal care products is diethyl phthalate (DEP).

How do you know if there are phthalates in your skin care products?

The FDA regulates cosmetic products sold to consumers and mandates labeling of ingredients. The FDA recommends that consumers read ingredient labels. But, they go on to say:

However, the regulations do not require the listing of the individual fragrance ingredients; therefore, the consumer will not be able to determine from the ingredient declaration if phthalates are present in a fragrance... Consumers who do not want to purchase cosmetics containing DEP may wish to choose products that do not include "Fragrance" in the ingredient listing.


Think about how many of your personal-care and home-cleaning products contain some ambiguous "fragrance." Most of that is artificial, and the components of which are non-specifically delineate — you have no idea if that scent contains phthalates, and there is no way to tell.

Why are phthalates bad?

  • They are known endocrine disruptors and linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity and cancer according to Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
  • Phthalates are commonly found in human urine samples.
  • They wash off our skin and into wastewater treatment facilities where they are difficult to remove, and thus, enter the environment and then re-enter drinking water and the food chain.
  • They are banned from personal care products in the EU but still allowed – and abundant - in the U.S.

What is the best way to avoid phthalates in your skin care and home cleaning products?

The best way to avoid phthalates is to avoid products with artificial fragrance. The double benefit is that fragrance is a common, skin allergen so avoiding it is a two-fer, and really smart!

Chose fragrance-free products for your personal care and cut down on phthalate exposure to your body and the environment. If you would like to add scent to your life, use natural products that contain a very low concentration of natural, essential oil for fragrance. Essential oils can be skin allergens too so chose one scent that you love, and use it very sparingly in a very diluted amount.

You need to understand the terminology difference between fragrance-free and unscented, because they are confusing.

What is the difference between fragrance-free and unscented?

  • According to the EPA, “fragrance-free” means that the product has no fragrance ingredients added.
  • Unscented products may contain masking chemicals to hide the odor of the product base formulation.

Choose fragrance free products when you shop for skin care and home cleaning products. Or, chose products scented with natural essential oils.

Tips for making a big impact reducing phthalates in your skin care and home cleaning products.

Start with the personal care products your household uses in high volume and replace them with ones that you know don’t contain phthalates. High volume products expose more of your skin surface area to phthalates. They also wash higher volume product down the drain into the ecosystem. The typical household uses a high volume of:

  • shower gel:
  • body and face lotion: and
  • sunscreen.

They also wash higher volume product down the drain into the ecosystem. The typical household uses a high volume of:

You use a lot of liquid and spray home cleaner products, too, so these should also be swapped out to reduce phthalate exposure.

Perfectly good phthalate-free alternatives exist for these products and the swap is easy. Here is how I do it.

Dermatologist’s phthalate-free, truly natural skin care – safe and non-toxic for you, your entire household, and the planet. Made with organic ingredients.

I’m obsessed, picky and the ideal expert to get you non-toxic skin care that’s truly hypoallergenic, too. Ban the dubious stuff, restock, and drastically cut out phthalates and allergens.

Natural Foaming Hand Soap for every sink where you frequently wash your hands.

Choose from entirely fragrance free, or lightly lavender-scented. The lavender fragrance is 100% natural lavender essential oil. I add it at below the threshold concentration that I, as a dermatologist, know is taunting for skin allergy. Yes, with essential oils you can always be allergic, but I’ve made sure the risk is low for those who love real scent - like me.

Natural Shower Gel for every shower.

Choose from entirely fragrance free, or my Invigorating natural peppermint essential oil scent – again made with a concentration below that readily taunts allergic reactions.

Moisturizers: Keep a great moisturizer right where you step out of the bath or shower.

You need it where you wash your face too. Don’t forget one next to the kitchen sink, too.

Natural Face and Body Lotion: Have the entire family use it head-to-toe, and it even plays well with hairy skin!

Natural Face and Body Butter Cream: Try a richer formula for moisture craving skin.

Face Booster Oils: Use them alone or add a few drops to boost healing botanical oil content of your moisturizer.

Chose from Ultra Hypoallergenic or Omega Enriched, which has a blend of natural cypress essential oil, sea buckthorn and borage oil. I love the Omega Enriched Booster Oil as a beard conditioning oil that fights beardruff.

Natural Lip Balm: It's certified organic and truly hypoallergenic to prevent addiction to lip balm (aka allergic reaction to your lip balm that makes your lips feel even drier).

Keep one in the bathroom, your purse, your desk, back pack, etc. Apply lip balm often to protect and heal delicate lips.

Natural Home Spray Cleaner: Experience zero, bad VOC fumes to help keep your home non-toxic. It kills ants too! Go figure.

Natural Home Cleaner Concentrate - detergent free hypoallergenic cleaner concentrate when you need a bucket of sudsy water to clean stuff.

It’s a great gentle laundry soap for delicate fabrics, too. As a dermatologist, I know that hypoallergenic laundry soap is important to prevent laundry dermatitis. This is especially true for undergarments that are worn in sweaty areas where laundry-soap residue is readily absorbed into the skin to cause allergic rashes - and who needs the phthalates there either?!

Celebrate Earth Day by ditching phthalates. Your body, the local aquatic ecosystems and drinking water will all benefit.

To learn more about the products listed on this page and celebrate Earth Day for your skin, click here!