Every day the average male uses about six cosmetic products containing about 85 potentially harmful chemicals. Some chemicals in the fragrances of these products can lead to various forms of testicular dysgenesis. Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, spoke to University of Tennessee students about the potential dangers of cosmetic products and the defects certain products can lead to.
Malkan explained that phthalates, a family of chemicals found in many fragrances, is the most harmful to men. She said that in a study involving 17 body sprays, including Axe, Old Spice, and Abercrombie and Fitch's "Fierce", 12 of the products contained phthalates. Phthalates, she explained, have been linked directly to sperm damage, lowered sperm count, testicular tumors, and other forms of testicular dysgenesis.
In an Abercrombie and Fitch department store, the cologne "Fierce," one of the products that was tested for phthalates, is released into the air every 30 minutes. "Fierce" contains phthalates which harm male reproduction health. It also contains eight different allergenic fragrances that can cause headaches, sleepiness, and nasal congestion.
Phthalates can also affect children still developing in the womb. A woman can ingest phthalates through fragrances either by inhalation or absorption. When phthalates are ingested, even in small doses, they can cause problems with normal child development. Therefore, just walking into some department stores puts consumers at risk.
Cosmetic companies can get away with having these harmful chemicals in their products because, although required to state what is in the cosmetic product, they are not responsible for stating what is in the fragrance. Less than half of the chemicals in cosmetics are even assessed for safety.
Malkan said, "Companies are capable of making changes when the consumer demands get loud enough." She followed, "There are safer alternatives." She later explained that phthalates add no scent to fragrances, it just helps the fragrance last longer.
In Europe, Malkan explained, phthalates have been banned from some cosmetics, but in America they are still in most fragrances.
Malkan, along with the help of other members of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, hope to eventually remove all harmful chemicals from cosmetic products. As an advocate for the National Safe Cosmetics Act, she stated that her goals are to ban chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects, require companies to fully disclose what is in the ingredients of their cosmetics, and require companies to pass safety assessments. She is starting by raising awareness of the problems cosmetics can cause.