Healthy Body

Could Changing your Beauty Regime Save your Fertility?

Eloise Edington  |   23 Sep 2021

Could your skincare routine be affecting your fertility? Many cosmetic products contain harmful toxins and chemicals that can impact fertility and general health when TTC. Being more conscious about the beauty products you use may be something to be aware of to help improve your fertility.

To help you avoid toxic ingredients that could be impacting your fertility, The Ribbon Box and the Wellbeing Sisters will let you in on which endocrine disruptors are most common in beauty products. Read on to learn more about toxic-free beauty.

Words By Katherine 

What are Environmental Toxins?

On a daily basis, we are exposed to chemicals which are environmental toxins and endocrine disruptors (a chemical compound that interferes with the normal functioning of the endocrine system and the reproductive and other biological processes regulated by it). They may be relatively obvious to identify if you read the ingredients list on all products, but they can also be absorbed through eating fish, as fish may contain tiny plastic particles from plastic waste disposed of in the sea. These micro plastics are considered not detrimental to your health as long as you stick to the recommended amount of fish (twice a week).  If you are exposed to endocrine disruptors on a regular basis, however, the ingredients can begin to have a harmful effect on your fertility and general health. Some of these toxins can be avoided through minor lifestyle changes such as: replacing plastic food storage containers with glass alternatives, avoiding over-exposure to certain chemicals in your workplace and in the home, consuming less fish and using fertility-friendly cosmetics. 

What are some Common Chemicals Found in Cosmetics that can Affect Fertility?

On average, a man will use roughly six skin and hair care products a day, while women on average use an estimate of twelve products. The chemicals in these products could be affecting your fertility, especially if you don’t know what toxins may be lurking in the ingredients list.

To help you spot endocrine disruptors to avoid harming your fertility and health, we have made a short list of the eight most common ingredients you may want to avoid when TTC. We have also included the way these toxins might be listed in the ingredients so that you can recognise them: 


1. Parabens

Parabens can mimic oestrogen, which can disrupt your hormone balance and affect sperm, egg and embryo quality.

How it may look on the label: parabens, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.

2. Acrylates

Acrylates, derived from acrylic acid, are usually found in nail and eyelash products and have been linked to foetal malformation.

How it may look on the label: acrylate, ethyl acrylate, ethyl methacrylate, and methyl methacrylate.

3. UV Filters

Found in sunscreens, the chemicals associated with UV filters can prevent the reproductive system from developing embryos, disrupt the thyroid and affect foetal development.

How it may look on the label: octinoxate, octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), oxybenzone, homosalate, benzonephenone-3, homomenthyl salicylate, 3,3,5-trimethyl-cyclohexyl-salicylate.

4. Phthalates

Often found unlisted in perfumes, phthalates can interfere with hormones, reduce sperm count and impact the thyroid signalling and circulation of thyroid hormone levels. These issues can impact the development of the foetal brain during early stages of pregnancy as this stage depends on the mothers thyroid hormones.

How it may look on the label: diethyl phthalate (DEP),‘fragrance/parfum’ where source has not been clarified, for example ‘natural essential oils’.

5. Butylphenyl Methylpropional

Butylphenyl methylpropional may be found in both cosmetics and household cleaners. It can damage testes, impact sperm quality, and be harmful to the foetus during the developmental stages of pregnancy, as the foetus is exposed to everything the mother is exposed to. The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety deemed this unsafe in 2019.

How it may look on the label: butylphenyl methylpropional, lilial, lily aldehyde.

6. Retinoids and Retinol

Found particularly in the medication isotretinoin, which may be prescribed for severe acne, this has been linked to birth defects and should be stopped three months prior to conception.

How it may look on the label: retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene, and isotretinoin.

7. Toluene

Workers using toluene-containing glues, adhesives, paints, varnishes, shellac, nail polish and printing inks may be exposed to toluene.  Over-exposure is linked to reproductive damage in women and baby loss.

How it may look on the label: toluene also listed as methylbenzene, phenylmethane or toluol; toluene-2,5-diamine, toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate, toluene-3,4-diamine (hair dyes).

8. Silicones/Siloxanes

Silicones/Siloxanes can interfere with normal hormone function and potentially affect fertile health. In vaginal lubricants, they can affect sperm motility.

How it may look on the label: cyclotetrasiloxane (D4), octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4), cyclomethicone, cyclohexasiloxane. polydimethylsiloxane, methicone and dimethicone.

How to avoid environmental toxins

There are several other toxins that may be present in your beauty products and which you should look out for. To find out more about what chemicals could be affecting your fertility, you can refer to the ‘Naughty List‘ on the Wellbeing Sisters website. Also, to save a lot of time, it may be worthwhile investing in an app like ThinkDirty, which can scan your beauty product and report back whether it is a healthy product or one full of toxins.

Alternatively, you could shop for clean cosmetics that are openly fertility-friendly. Wellbeing Sisters is a beauty brand which is free of toxins and chemicals and offers specific skincare and make-up products to women during all stages of life, including the TTC period, pregnancy, motherhood and menopause. To help cut back on toxins and support your fertility you can purchase individual items or subscription boxes.

Hopefully this article has given you some insight into how environmental toxins can affect your fertility and how to avoid them for better chances at conception and healthy pregnancy. Remember, it’s impossible to avoid all potentially harmful chemicals in our daily lives and it shouldn’t scare us, but it’s sensible to limit our exposure where we can, particularly when TTC. If you are concerned, talk with your fertility specialist.

If you would like to look into the home, skin and make-up products that Wellbeing Sisters have to offer, checkout their website here.

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