Watchdog Tells Men to Take It Easy on Fragranced Cosmetics

As Father’s Day is celebrated tomorrow, a watch group on hazardous substances cautioned men to be extra careful in purchasing cosmetics containing fragrances that can disrupt hormonal functions and adversely affect their sexual and reproductive health.

The EcoWaste Coalition, citing precautionary warnings by US-based advocacy groups, said that some cosmetics marketed to men and teenage boys like body spray and cologne, shaving cream, aftershave and hair products may contain undisclosed chemicals of concern.

“The safety of cosmetics is not only a women’s issue as men and boys nowadays use a variety of cosmetics and personal care products, making them just as vulnerable to ingredients that can possibly harm their reproductive health and fertility,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.  

“One of these ingredients of concern is ‘fragrance’ which may contain endocrine disrupting chemicals such as phathalates,” he pointed out.

“As fragrance ingredients are seldom fully listed on the label, consumers should seek out fragrance-free products as a precaution against phthalate exposure.  Take it easy on fragrance-laced cosmetics,” he said. 

“Although it’s just one little word on the ingredient label, ‘fragrance’ can contain dozens, even hundreds of chemicals, including hormone-disrupting phthalates and synthetic musks,” warned the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of the San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund.

The Washington DC-based Environmental Working Group warned “some ingredients are hormonally active; some of these are specifically linked to male reproductive system disorders” such as endocrine-disrupting phthalates, which are commonly found in fragrances. 

Some of the reproductive health issues associated with exposure to phthalates include poor semen quality, decreased sperm counts, infertility, altered hormone levels and testicular and prostate cancer.

“While men are exposed on average to six products a day versus 12 products for women, they are still exposed to some 80 unique chemicals from personal care products such as soap, shampoo, shaving cream, fragranced aftershave, etc.,” said scientist Dr. Ann Blake, an expert on toxics reduction strategies.

Blake, who spoke at a lecture-forum in 2012 co-organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and Food and Drugs Administration, said that “some male-specific health effects include exposure to Di-Ethyl Phthalate (DEP), a hormone disruptor, that impact on sperm quality and motility.”

Safe cosmetics groups advised men and other consumers to avoid or reduce their use of products with added fragrance, to read product labels closely and to find safer substitutes.