07. 03. 2023



We all have heard about endocrine disruptors, but what are they really, how can we identify them and what consequences do they have on our bodies and those of our children? 

At Enfance Paris, this subject is particularly important to us because we are aware of the seriousness of the impacts of these substances on our health and that of our children. We therefore wanted to offer you a detailed article explaining - but in a simplified way - everything there is to know about endocrine disruptors to help you find your way among all the various sources of information.


First, what is an endocrine disruptor? 

To define these substances, we can rely on the definition given by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002: "An endocrine disruptor is a substance or mixture of substances, which alters the functions of the endocrine system and thereby induces adverse effects in an intact organism, in its offspring or in (sub)populations."

To better understand this definition, we can start to define an endocrine system. The latter is a set of organs and tissues that secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones act as "chemical messengers" between different parts of the body, a role that is essential for the proper functioning of our body. Hormones allow, for example, the stimulation of growth and development, the regulation of emotions, the control of body temperature, blood sugar, blood pressure,... The French National Agency for Food Safety (Anses) has highlighted the danger of altering our endocrine system.

Endocrine disruptors are chemical substances or mixtures, both artificial and natural, which have the ability to interfere with the endocrine system, and therefore our hormonal system. 


These artificial and natural substances are different from each other, are not found in the same place and do not have the same impact on the body. We have therefore decided today to present the best known and most common in cosmetics to give you all the keys to avoid them.


  1. Bisphenol A (BPA) 


Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor present in food (but also non-food) plastics. Since 2002, experts from all over the world have taken an interest in it and today, many major scientific studies demonstrate the harmful effects of this endocrine disruptor, in particular the existence of a direct link between BPA and certain cancers as well as harmful effects on reproduction. But, as an estrogenic compound, it is also the cause of genital deformities in newborn boys and precocious puberty in young girls, hyperactivity, depression and attention deficit, reproductive and liver disorders, obesity, diabetes, a decrease in sperm quality in men and an increase in breast and prostate cancers.

In 2018, a regulation was then published by the European Commission to tighten restrictions on this substance in materials directly in contact with food. The specific migration limit is now set at 0.6 milligrams per kilogram of food.

Concerning the presence of BPA in products for infants, its ability to mimic estrogen has been demonstrated and its use is now prohibited in baby bottles. However, this endocrine disruptor can be found in sports bottles, containers for water dispensers (usually 18 liters), children's toys, CDs and DVDs, cans, aluminum cans ...

The main source of exposure to this molecule remains its ingestion due to the migration of its containers to the food contents. 


  1. Phthalates 


A group of chemicals dating from the 1950s, phthalates are found in cosmetics and packaging. They are used: either to soften plastics or to stabilize perfumes. 

Regarding the effects of these substances on the body, it has been shown by the National Agency for Health Security that they block the effects of testosterone by mimicking estrogen. Phthalates, also modifying the production of thyroid hormones, are also the cause of genital malformations, early puberty, fertility problems, respiratory system difficulties, various allergies and asthma.

Present in our daily lives, as well as in the products we use on our children, they can be found in plastics such as shower curtains, certain toys, bags and fake leather clothing. In cosmetics, phthalates are particularly present in hair products, care products, cosmetics and perfumes.


However, in France, their use has been prohibited since May 3, 2011.


  1. Parabens


Part of the large family of preservatives present in many products of our daily life, parabens are found in cosmetic products, hygiene products and in the food industry.

Particularly harmful for pregnant women, it disturbs the endocrine system and the general system of reproduction. In large doses, it also promotes breast cancer. Indeed, like phthalates, parabens have estrogenic compounds which, when absorbed by the skin, can cause skin reactions, allergies, irritations but also cancers. 

However, the risks incurred by the application of parabens is really important if the product is not rinsed. For the children, it is all the same preferable to avoid the products containing these substances because there is often product residues on the skin,even after rinse in particular at the babies. 


  1. Alkylphenols


Alkylphenols are part of a known family of chemicals. These endocrine disruptors are found in various products such as paints and detergents, pesticides, but also hygiene products and cosmetics. 

Alkylphenols mimic estrogen and alter the endocrine system. Accumulated in the body, they can have, in the long run, harmful consequences on the body: effects on development, puberty and fertility.


This substance is now banned by the European Union at a concentration of more than 0.1% in everyday products and cosmetics.


  1. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)


BHA and BHT are two food additives that protect certain foods against oxidation, but are also present in many cosmetic products. 

In a non-exhaustive list of products containing BHA and BHT, we find some products containing fatty oils such as creams, lotions and moisturizers, balms and lipsticks, pencils and eye shadows, food packaging, cereals, chewing gums, meat, margarine, chips, soups and other dehydrated foods ...

Known and recognized as dangerous, they are banned in some countries, and even classified as carcinogenic in the state of California (USA). However, it is not prohibited in France.

Because of their consequent estrogenic activity, these substances present a proven toxicity for the skin, the liver (leading to an hypertrophy of the latter) and the kidneys, contribute to the increase of the risk of cancer, delay the cellular growth and accentuate the allergic reactions. BHA and BHT are also neurotoxic.




  1. Teflon and other Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs)


Found in some body creams, fabric treatments, food packaging, cookware, sports and medical equipment, and waterproof clothing, these persistent organic pollutants are known carcinogens. For pregnant women, they can cause low birth weight babies, raise cholesterol levels, alter the response to stress and affect the development of the fetal nervous system.


  1. Triclosan


Triclosan is a synthetic product with multiple applications: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and preservative, it is found in many products. Among others, soaps, toothpastes, first aid products, acne products, cosmetics, shaving creams, moisturizing lotions, make-up removers, deodorants, shower curtains, kitchen sponges, toys, sportswear and some types of plastics.

This substance is increasingly questioned by the scientific community. The reason: triclosan can block the activity of the thyroid gland and the action of thyroid hormones by accumulating in fatty tissue. This endocrine disruptor is also toxic for the respiratory tract and the liver.


  1. Phenoxyethanol


Synthetic preservative frequently used in various cosmetic products including baby wipes due to its antibacterial properties, phenoxyethanol undergoes many recommendations by the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines. Since December 20, 2019, it is notably mandatory for manufacturers to specify the presence of phenoxyethanol in their product, except for deodorants, hair styling products and makeup products. In addition, if there is the presence of phenoxyethanol in certain products intended for children, manufacturers are obliged to notify the latter that it should not come into contact with the buttocks of children of 3 years or less. Suspected of being an endocrine disruptor, babies are particularly exposed to it given the possible penetration of the products, in particular at the level of the irritated seat during the changes of layers.


  1. GMOs


A GMO is an organism whose genome has been modified to give it a new property. ? Mostly known to be used in the food industry, they are notably defended because they would allow better harvest, would allow cultivation on soils unfit for cultivation until now, and even... greater nutritional qualities. However, we know for the moment very little about the long-term consequences on the body and health. One of the risks would be that GMOs would promote the risk of allergy, and would perhaps be an endocrine disruptor, but nothing is currently proven. 

And if the debate is focused on the agri-food issue, more and more GMO crops are authorized in the world. As a result, more and more cosmetic ingredients are likely to come from genetically modified varieties. 

Different charters and specifications for organic and natural cosmetics have therefore taken into account the issue of GMOs and prohibited it to different degrees. Ecocert (label of our products), has as a fundamental principle "the use of ingredients from renewable resources and transformed by processes respectful of the environment" and verifies in particular "the absence of GMO".


  1. Sulfates


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a sulfated surfactant with a powerful detergent action. Foaming agents, surfactants, emulsifiers, sulfates are used in shower gels, shampoos and toothpastes. Known for its irritating and drying action, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is even used as a reference skin irritant by researchers conducting dermatological studies. It is thus a very aggressive substance for the skin. This aggression also touches the cutaneous barrier and dehydrates this one. Attacked, it produces more sebum, making the skin and hair greasy. But sulfates, in addition to their irritating effect, are known to be endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic substances. Indeed, due to their detergent effect, sulfates - and in particular SLS - are able to penetrate tissues and attach themselves to various vital organs, even if they are used in low concentrations. 

Sulfates are able to penetrate the body and can alter skin proteins and open the way to other toxic and even carcinogenic molecules. They also disrupt our hormonal/endocrine system and are therefore recognized as endocrine disruptors. Mimicking estrogen, they participate in the development of breast cancer in women and, in men, they are suspected of causing a drop in fertility. By reaction with other molecules widespread in shampoos (triethanolamine, cocamide MEA or DEA, lauramide MEA or DEA), sulfates are transformed into carcinogenic compounds. 

Beware of sulfates, and in particular SLS, in products intended for children. Indeed, quickly absorbed by the eye if the shampoo or the shower gel enter in contact with this last (what often happens at the young children) these molecules can remain there until 5 days. The rate of absorption being particularly high in young people, these harmful effects can accumulate quickly and cause concern during their development. 


  1. Synthetic perfumes


Perfumes are also today subject to controversy concerning their method of manufacture and the molecules used during this one. Indeed, the great majority of the perfumes currently proposed on the market are perfumes known as "conventional". This term means that they are formulated with a base of alcohol denatured with chemical molecules and that the juice of the perfume (the perfumed composition) is also manufactured in a synthetic way. 

We also find phthalates in perfumery, these substances being particularly appreciated in this field because they would allow to fix and prolong the wake. Remember that phthalates are proven endocrine disruptors. 




This explanatory and non-exhaustive list proves once again the importance of paying attention to the presence of potential endocrine disruptors in the products we buy, especially those intended for our children. Because, if these substances are harmful for everyone, the youngest are particularly exposed to their toxicity. And for good reason: children, still in full development, have a much more fragile skin than adults. Thinner and less permeable, it absorbs much more and defends itself less well against toxins. 

Furthermore, it is important to note that the skin, regardless of age, does not know how to detoxify itself. That is to say that it does not eliminate, or almost not, the absorbed toxic products. Even more than the respiratory or alimentary route, the skin is the one that allows the greatest disturbance of the organism.


But then, what can we do to avoid endocrine disruptors? 

In cosmetics, it is recommended to turn to organic products. The Cosmébio or Ecocert labels offer products that are respectful of health and the environment. These labels guarantee the consumer a transparent composition. It is also necessary to scrutinize the INCI lists to make sure that there are no potential endocrine disruptors. Since these are sometimes difficult to decipher, many applications have emerged to help you better understand the composition of your products: QuelCosmetic, INCI Beauty are the best known (and recognized) and simply ask you to scan your product. The application will take care of the decryption for you!


On our side, we have always been committed against endocrine disruptors. Not only do we exclude from our formulas the 1328 chemical substances banned in Europe, we also exclude all those on the grey list.

Only ingredients of natural origin are kept. No OG - No synthetic fragrance - No parabens - No PEG, BHA or BHT - No phthalates - No EDTA - No phenoxyethanol - No organohalogen compounds - No sulfates.