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Plastics in Food and Personal Care

A 2023 Consumer Reports article shared research demonstrating that plastic-related chemicals in food and personal care products & packaging are migrating as we use them, making their way into our bodies. The focus of this study was phthalates, a chemical used to make plastic more flexible and durable, but other chemicals found in plastic also turned up, including bisphenols such as BPA. Phthalates have been linked to a long list of health concerns, even at very low levels. While the focus of this study was on food, phthalates are also found in many personal care items.

Growing research shows that phthalates are endocrine disruptors, which means that they can interfere with the production and regulation of estrogen and other hormones. Even minor disruptions in hormone levels can contribute to an increased risk of several health problems, including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, birth defects, premature birth, neurodevelopmental disorders, and infertility.

Plastics in our Food and Personal Care

Unscented products help avoid plastics in food and personal care

Unscented products help avoid plastics in food and personal care as there’s nowhere for DEPs to hide.

The Consumer Reports article explains that in addition to leaching from plastic packaging, phthalates sneak into food throughout the manufacturing process. They can come, “from the plastic in the tubing, conveyor belts, and gloves used during food processing, and can even enter directly into meat and produce via contaminated water and soil.”

According to the FDA, in personal care, the primary phthalates used in cosmetics have been: dibutylphthalate (DBP), used as a plasticizer in products such as nail polishes (to reduce cracking by making them less brittle); Dimethylphthalate (DMP), used in hair sprays (to help avoid stiffness by allowing them to form a flexible film on the hair); and Diethylphthalate (DEP), used as a solvent and fixative in fragrances. The FDA’s latest survey of cosmetics, conducted in 2010, found that DBP and DMP are used rarely. DEP appears to be the only phthalate still commonly used in cosmetics.

Thanks to FDA requirements, consumers can tell whether some products contain phthalates by reading the ingredient lists on labels. However, thanks to industry lobbying, regulations do not require listing individual fragrances or flavors, so this is a place where phthalates can hide undetected. This is a great reason to purchase unscented or fragrance-free products Without a generic fragrance ingredient to list, there is nowhere for DEPs to hide.

Plastics in Hair Care Styling Products

The other place plastic can be found is personal care, in hair spray and other styling products. According to, “phthalates are often used in products that provide flexible hold, like hairspray, due to their ability to act as a plasticizer. However, there is significant research that supports avoiding phthalates due to their adverse effects on human health.” Even more concerning, “heat can accelerate their release so they should be avoided when heat styling.”

This is one of the reasons Plaine Products has expanded our styling options. Not only do our products offer plastic free styling products, all of the ingredients are plant-based. In our styling gel we use amaranthus caudatus seed extract to make hair more manageable for styling. Another hero ingredient, linseed extract (aka flaxseed), promotes the alignment of hair fibers, reducing frizz. Flax is an emollient that contributes to smooth and healthy hair.

You no longer need to compromise your health in order to have safe, effective personal care products. Natural ingredients continue to be found that allow consumers to buy eco-friendly, sustainable shampoo and styling products that are good for them and the planet.




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