Hormone / Endocrine dispruptors in cosmetics

Endocrine disrupting chemicals, also known as hormone disruptors, can be found in all kinds of cosmetic, household and industrial products.

Curious Chloride’s Ingredient Scanner (Free in Chrome Web Store) marks endocrine disruptors found on content lists red, so you can avoid them easily.

The endocrine disruptors are numerous, widespread and have many different functions. What the chemicals have in common is that they have endocrine activity properties, meaning they disturb our body’s natural hormone system.

Endocrine disruption symptoms

Some of the endocrine disruptors in cosmetics are preservatives while others are biological hormones added to skincare products, for example, in anti-ageing products.

Exposure to endocrine disruptors is by many considered especially concerning as hormones affect more or less everything that happens in our bodies.

The hormone systems work as the messengers of the body and influence everything from development, growth, immunity, and reproduction, to behaviour and metabolism.

All of those areas could, therefore, feel the negative effects of endocrine disruptors.

There is a suspicion among researchers that hormone-releasing and hormone-disrupting substances could be contributing to the growth of some of the most common diseases in our society.

So because of its serious effects, some researchers and even state agencies within the EU, warns that if endocrine-disrupting chemicals stay unregulated, as they currently are, it will cause grave negative effects on human health.

Endocrine disruptors are associated with the development of

  • Learning disabilities
  • Severe attention deficit disorder
  • Behavioral changes
  • Cognitive and brain development problems
  • Cancer;  breast cancer, prostate cancer, testicle cancer, hormone-sensitive cancers in females, thyroid and other
  • Sexual development problems such as feminizing of males or masculinizing effects on females.
  • Affects on female and male reproduction; reduced ability to have children, poor sperm quality
  • Effects on immune system
  • Effects on metabolism, including obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Damages to a developing fetus
  • Affects on neurodevelopment and neuroendocrine systems
  • Deformations of the body (including limbs)


“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.” –The European Commission

Endocrine (hormone) disrupting ingredients category

Small amounts of hormone disruptors affects

Usually, chemicals get more dangerous the more we are exposed to them but with endocrine-disrupting chemicals, even small amounts can affect the body.

Paradoxically, larger amounts are sometimes of no harm, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) explains.

This evidently makes it difficult to surely determine when they become dangerous. The SSNC, among others, are for this reason pushing to remove all industrial chemicals from consumer products that are known to cause hormone disruption.

Endocrine disruptors combination effects

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has for many years studied the exposure and the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our everyday lives.

The EPA is especially concerned by the “combination/cocktail effect”. This means that the chemical in itself might not pose a great risk but the simultaneous exposure to other chemicals, also disrupting hormones, significantly increases the risk of negative effects.

As we risk being exposed to hormone-disrupting ingredients from multiple sources every day, through the personal care products we use, the make-up we apply, the clothes we use, the bed sleep in, the couch we sit in, and through the toys we give our kids, the combination/cocktail effects should be considered more carefully.

The EPA, as well as the EU chemical regulation (REACH), admits that there is a lack of knowledge regarding the combination effects and that the current legislation is fully not considering it.

Specific regulation for the hormone-disrupting chemicals does not yet exist in the EU. Consumers who want to avoid chemicals causing hormone disruption will have to continue reading the contents of products, carefully.

Browse cosmetic ingredients

See harmful categories