Cosmetics Containing Phthalates Are Safe

The use of phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products is supported by an extensive body of scientific research and data that confirms safety.  The essential characteristics of phthalates have long been understood and research has shown that they do not persist in the environment.

Phthalates play an important role in everyday life and are used in a variety of products, including cosmetics.  Phthalates have existed for decades and, as a result, are one of the most extensively studied and well understood families of chemicals.  Government data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrate that human exposure levels to phthalates are far below minimum safety levels set by regulatory agencies.  Even if there is exposure, phthalates break down quickly and are excreted.

The independent Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel recently completed another extensive review of phthalates as used in cosmetics and reconfirmed them to be “safe as used” in cosmetics. CIR is an independent, non-profit scientific body that holds open public meetings and publishes its findings in peer reviewed journals.

By law, cosmetic ingredients, including phthalates, must be listed among the ingredients on product labels, unless they are added as a part of the “fragrance.” As a fragrance might contain hundreds of fragrance materials, the law recognizes that such information on individual materials, present in very small quantities, would not be practical to put on the label, and requires instead that the term”fragrance” be listed.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health Canada, and other scientific bodies have examined phthalates used in cosmetics and have not restricted that use.

The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that cosmetics and their individual ingredients must be safe and that labeling must be truthful and not misleading. FDA’s legal authority over cosmetics is comparable with its authority over other FDA-regulated products, such as foods, nonprescription drugs, and nonprescription medical devices. FDA can take immediate action to stop the sale of any product that does not meet these standards.

Consumers can remain confident about using their cosmetics given their oversight by the FDA, the extensive research on their safety, and long history of safe use.

For more information about phthalates in general, please contact the Phthalate Esters Panel at 703-741-5623 or visit their website at