It’s never a good thing when your menstrual cycle comes to a screeching halt due to your hairspray. Researchers at Washington University, Missouri, found that phthalates—chemicals in some cosmetics that are added to products like perfumes, hair gels and nail polishes to give longer staying power—could have a negative impact on hormones. More importantly, it could potentially cause early menopause for some women.
Co-author of the study, Dr. Natalia Grindler, who presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s conference in San Diego, CA, studied the levels of phthalates in the blood or urine of more than 5,000 women, and found that women with the highest amount of the chemical in their bodies went through the change an average of two years earlier. Since the average woman goes through menopause at the age of 51, that means these women experienced it at the age of 49.
Dr. Grindler says, “We absolutely think these chemicals have the potential to affect ovarian function and human reproduction,” and while “there’s a lot that we don’t know at this point, our research is still preliminary, but it’s enough to suggest it is having a detrimental impact in the long-term.”
Researchers have yet to know why some women are exposed to higher levels of these chemicals, but suggest it could be due to factors like using more cosmetics. So how can you look for products without these potentially harmful chemicals? Read the ingredients in all of your beauty products. According to the organization Pollution in People, you can identify phthalates in your beauty products by their chemical names, or abbreviations. DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate) are often found in things like nail polishes, deodorants, perfumes, shampoos, hair gels and hand lotions. BzBP is also used in some personal-care products.