r/science 4d ago

Chemicals in shampoo and makeup are linked to early death, study finds Health

https://www.insider.com/chemicals-in-shampoo-makeup-linked-to-early-death-study-2021-10
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u/ZSpectre 4d ago

Just wondering if anyone can give us a link to the actual study. I tend to get a bit iffy on articles that report on scientific articles without access to a formal methods, results, and discussion section.

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u/jkmacc 4d ago

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0269749121016031

Highlights

• Phthalate exposures were associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

• Further studies are needed to corroborate observations and identify mechanisms.

• Extrapolating to 55–64 year olds, we identified >90,000 attributable deaths/year.

• The results suggest $39.9–47.1 billion in lost economic productivity/year.

• Regulatory action is urgently needed.

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u/[deleted] 4d ago

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u/Oilgod 4d ago

If you put a dollar value on it, the system will at least evaluate whether it's a worthwhile investment to intervene...

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u/ShittyCompiler 3d ago

If 1% of cars put out by a company have a defect that results in having to pay $100,000 in damages on average and their profit margin is well over $1,000 per car, there's no financial reason for them to do a recall, as the cars are still turning a profit.

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u/BananaCreamPineapple 4d ago

Agreed, but putting a dollar value to it helps with arguing for taking action. There is unfortunately a balance between taking action to protect people and economic cost of taking action, so when you can see that not taking action costs tens of billions a year it makes it much easier to justify taking action.

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u/ZSpectre 4d ago

Cool! Thanks for the link. And hmm, seems like the full article pdf is behind a pay wall, and I'm currently not working at an academic institution to see the details that an abstract wouldn't be able to tell on its own (for example, is the longitudinal study a prospective or retrospective trial, what are the inclusion and exclusion factors they used to control for confounders, how many people were in each group that's being compared, the p-value, were phthalates the primary outcome or part of one of many exploratory outcomes, etc.). Also quick disclaimer is that I've gone through a 2 year medical research fellowship, but am not a full blown professor or anything, so feel free to take what I say with a grain of salt.

Someone feel free to chime in to disagree with me or correct my math as I did the best I could to work backwards, but the impression I have so far is still a bit iffy due to them reporting an extrapolation of their nationally representative data to the general population of the US rather than giving out more raw numbers outside of their Hazard Ratios. When it comes right down to it, 90k-107k out of the total US population of people ages 55-64 is ~40 million isn't really that much (note that the # aged 55-64 may have changed a bit across 10 years, but it shouldn't have changed too much). If we divide their extrapolated estimates of 90k-107k by 40 million, that comes down to about 0.225%-0.2675 of that particular population. And while 90k-107k shouldn't be a number to sneeze at, my point is that they likely got this number from their results of a ~0.25% difference in their comparative sample. To be extraordinarily forgiving, if we multiply the highest range of their confidence interval of 107k or 0.2675% out of their TOTAL population of 5300, that comes down to about 14 people who may have had a death associated with phthalate use (also consider that the 5300 includes everyone 20 and older rather than just the people between ages 55-64, so the overall percentage of deaths to the 5300 should be even MUCH lower than 14 people).

Meanwhile, Hazard Ratios don't mean too much to me until I see raw numbers of deaths because it's a relative measurement. 1.1x more associated deaths from phthalates (I guess during a 10 year period in their study) technically means we're 10% more likely to pass away during a 10 year period while using a product than without (also remember that its association rather than cause in such a study), but without raw numbers, we won't be able to figure out if the absolute risk reduction is actually tiny or large. For example, the Hazard Ratio of 1.1 could mean that people who use non-phthalate shampoo (or no shampoo at all?) may have 20% deaths associated with them while ones who use phthalates have 22% associated with them, OR it could mean that those who use normal shampoo has 1% deaths associated while ones who use phthalates have 1.1% deaths associated with them (same with any other 1.1 ratio: {2% & 2.2%}, {3% & 3.3%}, etc.). Judging by my previous paragraph, the impression I get so far is that the change in absolute risk would actually be pretty darn low.

While there were a few other things that made me raise an eyebrow a little, I think those were the two big ones that stood out for me. Also a big reminder that this is just a first impression of what I saw from just their abstract (and maybe I could review the actual article once I find a friend or family member with access to academic journals who wouldn't mind me bothering them). Honestly, I may have been a bit harsh on it at the moment, but I'm all ears for a fun discussion.

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u/Sergeant_Rainbow 3d ago edited 3d ago

You're not off with your interpretation of the abstract. I've (tried to) read the paper itself but I don't have a full degree in statistics (I'm a researcher in biochemistry) and boy is this just full of stats terminology for days.

For example, here is the paragraph describing how they get to the $40 billion:

For each of these two estimates, we first identified the baseline age- standardized mortality rate for 55–64 year olds in the US in 2014 from the CDC Wonder database. To generate the increment in death due to phthalates, we multiplied the age-standardized rate by the relative risk due to phthalate exposure, and subtracted the age-standardized rate. The resulting increment in death rate due to phthalate exposure was multiplied by the population of 55–64 year olds according to the Census Bureau to generate the attributable number of annual deaths. To generate estimates of lifetime economic productivity (LEP) loss due to death, we multiplied phthalate-attributable deaths by LEP estimates produced by Max et al. for 55–59 and 60–64 year olds from US sources in 2009 dollars, updating to 2014 using trends in general consumer prices from the US.

Which almost sounds like the $40 billion is from the ENTIRE lifespan of those potentially affected by phtalate-related deaths - but that can't be what it is says because that would be ridiculous.

And what about this paragraph describing the mortality of the study participants:

We used the NHANES Public-Use Linked Mortality File through December 31, 2015, created by the NCHS by matching NHANES participants to the National Death Index with a probabilistic matching algorithm to determine mortality status

And this sounds to ME that they just guessed who died and who didn't based on overall mortality data - but that can't be what it says because that too would be ridiculous. Right?

edit: I'm happy to share the paper if you dm me an email adress to send it to

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u/Kathulhu1433 3d ago

I agree with everything except- I believe (could be totally wrong here) when they say LEP loss due to death they are talking about the lifetime that these people would have had between when they died prematurely and when they were statistically "supposed to" die.

Ex. Man dies at 55 from supposed phthalates, but the average man of his background lives until 77- the LEP loss is what dollar amount would have come from those years 55-77. Does that make sense?

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u/Sabot15 3d ago

As a scientist myself, I'm with you. I'm highly skeptical based simply on the fact that it was a small sample, spread out over a large age range. How many people actually died during the study? And now you're going to extrapolate from that small number?

Also, while they see a link between the presence of these metabolites, correlation doesn't equate to causation. Phthalates come from a lot of sources, one of which could be the cap liner on soda bottles. So you have a group of people who drink a lot more soda than the other, resulting in both high phthalate metabolites AND early death from diabetes and heart failure... From the sugar!

I don't give phthalates a pass by any means. I just want a little more direct evidence, which I do understand is difficult to obtain.

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u/Vasastan1 3d ago

They also correlate all-cause mortality, for example car accidents, with phtalate exposure. If that's not a logical stretch, I don't know what is.

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u/ZSpectre 3d ago

Yeah, sample size was definitely another thing that made me raise an eyebrow. Or more specifically about how it was displayed. An N of 5300 sounds like a decently sized number to a lay person, but without saying how many were in each group out of the large cohort or how many actually passed in each group, the actual N could be deceptively much smaller. Combined with displaying the extrapolated deaths in the hundreds of thousands and supposed lost wages to whatever billions of dollars, the impression I got is to simply wanted to make it sound impressive. And I say this as someone who tends to err on giving things the benefit of the doubt.

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u/busterbluthOT 4d ago

Linking to Insider, Buzzfeed or the myriad of low quality sites that litter this sub should be banned.

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u/reid8470 4d ago edited 3d ago

Anyone know of some not-outrageously-priced safe men's hair/body products? Seems like a simple thing for me to change to err on the side of caution without fully understanding the implications of this study.


edit: changed "phthalates-free" to "safe" because a lot of people have correctly pointed out that phthalates-free doesn't always mean safe.

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u/shitsfuckedupalot 4d ago

Shea moisture doesn't use sulfates or pthalates and makes good shampoo, especially if you have coarse or curly hair

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u/Notalurkeripromise 4d ago

Am dude, love Shea moisture's coconut shampoo and conditioner. I used dove products before and switched after their dandruff free shampoo started making my dandruff worse. No more dandruff with Shea.

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u/HelpVerizonSwitch 4d ago

The fungi that causes a lot of dandruff (malassezia, etc) feed off of fatty acids with a certain range of carbon chain lengths (~12 and up). Coconut falls into this category, and is one of the big reasons so many “anti-dandruff” shampoos have the opposite effect.

Check out simpleskincarescience.com. The guy did a ton of work researching what products are safe for yeast-aggravated dandruff (ie sebhorreic dermatitis)

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u/[deleted] 4d ago

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u/Oilgod 4d ago

Tar based shampoos are also effective.

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u/SativaSawdust 4d ago edited 4d ago

I just started plastering a pine tar on a rough patch on my bicep. After a full year of it being there, In one week the pine tar has dramatically reduced my patch of dry skin.

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u/HelpVerizonSwitch 4d ago

It’s not the active ingredients that are the problem. If you have a fungal dermatitis, and I give you a bottle that is 1.5% ketoconazole and 95% coconut oil, which is like miracle grow for that infection, then all you’re doing is promoting resistance to that active ingredient.

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u/Taoistandroid 4d ago

Tar to lift and separate the flakes first, then ketoconazole after the area of impact has been exposed, I've found addressing the two fronts has done wonders for my scalp.

Also ketoconazole has the amazing side effect of having a thicker head of hair.

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u/ASSHOLEFUCKER3000 4d ago

Like Nizoral? What do you use?

Nizoral works for me but it's so damn expensive

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u/MysteriousMoose4 4d ago

Also jumping in for a PSA that a lot of "dandruff" cases are really just a very dry scalp flaking, which will be made worse by aggressive anti-dandruff shampoos!

If you've never had an actual doctor confirm that it's dandruff, google how to tell the difference vs dry scalp, and if you feel like that might actually be closer to what you're experiencing, please stop using anti-dandruff products and try things like sensitive skin / baby shampoo, slightly cooler showers and less aggressive towel-drying on the scalp. Especially in the winter!

Dandruff is a legit medical issue, but a LOT of people experience a flaky, itchy scalp due to dryness and unknowingly make it so much worse by immediately going for the head&shoulders shampoos.

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u/glitterydick 4d ago

Huh, turns out this might be what I have. My scalp is fine, but my nose/eyebrow region has been frustrating to deal with for years. Fine one day, red, cracked and peeling a week later. Might need to look into this further.

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u/Allen_Edgar_Poe 4d ago

If you have bad dandruff get this shampoo called Nizoral @ Walmart it will be next the the selsun blue. If not, sorry I tried.

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u/TARANTULA_TIDDIES 4d ago

If Nizoral helps you, you might have a condition known as seborrheic dermatitis. If you get dry itch skin on your cheeks and forehead as well then that makes it even more likely.

If that's the case you can get a prescription for a shampoo with 2% instead of 1% of the active ingredient.

For me (since I did have this condition) it was quite literally life changing to get this stuff

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u/JTMissileTits 4d ago

I have to get the ketoconazole version. The other one doesn't work for me. I wash from eyebrows back to where my neck meets my shoulders and behind my ears. I do have seborrhea.

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u/[deleted] 4d ago edited 3d ago

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u/anonymouspurveyor 4d ago

I had that, get the nizoral shampoo and wash with that like twice a week.

After using it for awhile, I no longer have to use it that often. Every once in awhile I might feel it starting to come back and I'll use the shampoo again and it goes right back away.

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u/Luthien_Tinuviel_3 4d ago

Hi there, nurse here. Your brother needs to see a different doctor, preferably a dermatologist. There are stronger steroidal creams that may be able to help, but it sounds like he needs to start with an accurate diagnosis from a doctor that cares.

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u/holysmokesiminflames 4d ago

The comment of dry itchy skin on forehead and cheeks made me realise I might have this.

Would it get better/worse with seasons as weather changes?

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u/StoryLineOne 4d ago

Hey, are you my clone? Literally exact same situation (including coconut shampoo, its my go-to)

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u/blue_blurpie 4d ago

The only thing that works for my dandruff and itchy scalp is rubbing coconut oil into my scalp once a week or two and letting it sit there for a couple hours before washing it out. Sometimes I leave it over night with a towel over my pillow of course.

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u/Allen_Edgar_Poe 4d ago

Desert Essence shampoo is really good and I find it at my health store. Bit more pricey but it works amazing

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u/HazeySunday 4d ago

PSA: Shea Moisture USED to be good for coarse hair (3C- 4C) but nowadays they changed their products to be less moisturizing for those hair types— I would know because I have coarse ass hair.

If you have curly, wavy or straight hair, def try it out. If you have coarse/ kinky hair, use caution.

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u/Moist_Doughnut_311 3d ago

I'm still bitter about them changing the purification mask. Miss it every day of my life.

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u/I_no_verylittle 4d ago

Their coconut conditioner is by far my favorite. I spent years wondering why my hair wouldn’t grow past a certain length... after I switched to Shea Moisture my hair is almost to my bum. It was a real game changer for me. Of course this is anecdotal but I will always recommend it.

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u/Judonoob 4d ago

FYI, phthalate free does not imply safer! There are classes of chemicals out there that can be used as substitutes, however they are much less studied. Many of the really bad phthalates have been banned or require disclosure i.e RoHS, REACH, Prop 65.

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u/SaffellBot 4d ago edited 4d ago

Same problem with organic farming where you can trade low quantities of a low toxicity pesticide that has been extensively studied for higher quantities of higher toxicity chemicals with less understanding of their side effects.

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u/blueBlankieOctopud 4d ago

Do you have any sources? I'm genuinely curious because I often feel guilty/confused about wether I should be buying organic

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u/Morthra 4d ago

Organic doesn't mean no pesticides. It just means no synthetic pesticides. For example, it's perfectly legal to spray bordeaux mixture (a suspension of copper sulfate in calcium hydroxide) on organic farms.

Bordeaux mixture is more toxic than glyphosate, but it's the only pesticide option for organic farms that have banned synthetic pesticides.

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u/letsturtlebitches 4d ago

The paper the article sites actually mentions food packaging as the main source of phtalates. They are so ubiquitous that changing shampoo prob won't really matter.

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u/SpoOokyoOoky 4d ago

I know it's not everyone's favorite company, but Whole Foods doesn't sell anything with phthalates. So anything you can get from there should be safe. You can also let them do the research for you, browse on Whole Foods on Amazon and then shop around online for a better price, if you felt inclined to do so.

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u/[deleted] 4d ago

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u/SpoOokyoOoky 4d ago

Yeah I believe it's still true, the quality standards haven't changed, to the best of my knowledge. But you're right about the products changing a lot more frequently than they used to.

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u/The_Brownstein 4d ago

Method Men. It's at Target and Walmart. Its on Amazon. Naturally derived, no parabens, no phthalates.

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u/XtaC23 4d ago

Aw sweet I always wanted to smell like Method Man

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u/Johnny_Appleweed 4d ago

I’ll second this. I started using their body wash last year and love it.

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u/oldnyoung 4d ago edited 4d ago

Is it made from killa bees? For real though, I'll have to give it a try.

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u/DingDong_Dongguan 4d ago

No but anyways you should protekt ya neck.

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u/nomad80 4d ago

Neat. Had never heard of them, and my wife just bought me a bottle of their body wash and I loved it. Definitely hooked now.

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u/ice_jj 4d ago

Everyman Jack is quite decent. Also Duke Cannon

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u/natek11 4d ago

I second Everyman Jack. Good stuff.

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u/L3tum 4d ago

Honestly does that even exist? Phthalates are one of the things that were always a big no-no and I've yet to see a single plastic product that actually contains them -- or shampoo for that matter. I'd love to get a link to an example

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u/A_Tipsy_Rag 4d ago

http://www.gentlebubbles.com/avoiding-phthalates/list-products-containing-phthalates/

That is using data from 2010 but I am having trouble finding data of that sort which is more recent. Source is FDA which shows all tested products not just those that had them.

Some bans on them came in at the end of Obama's second term so modern data is probably different.

Plastics labeled 3, 6, and 7 may contain them according to the OP article.

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u/Brave_Salary_9060 4d ago

From the FDA: "FDA requires an ingredient declaration on cosmetic products sold at the retail level to consumers. Consumers can tell whether some products contain phthalates by reading the ingredient declaration on the labels of such products. "However, the regulations do not require the listing of the individual fragrance ingredients; therefore, the consumer will not be able to determine from the ingredient declaration if phthalates are present in a fragrance. [...] "Consumers who nevertheless do not want to purchase cosmetics containing DEP may wish to choose products that do not include "Fragrance" in the ingredient listing."

So if the shampoo contains fragrance, it may or may not contain phthalates.

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u/Aesir81 4d ago

Phthalates are not listed on plastic containers or other products because the government does not require them to be listed. Companies don't want to voluntarily list them because they know phthalates are hazardous to humans.

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u/kiase 4d ago

I like Dr. Bronner’s. The 32oz bottles are less than $20 (on sale right now for around $15) and they can last me close to a year if I just use as body wash. It’s a multi-use soap though so you can use it as shampoo, body wash, dish soap, even for your laundry.

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u/Montauket 4d ago

Doc Bronners is my jam. Peppermint for AM showers, lavender for PM showers. Definitely recommend diluting for most people.

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u/lostinphase 4d ago

Most people can't handle the full undiluted power. ;-)

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u/GiantPurplePeopleEat 4d ago

You can also brush your teeth with it!

I mean, it tastes terrible and it takes awhile to get the flavor out of your mouth. But it says you can do it right on the bottle!

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u/Blue_Skies_1970 4d ago

Reading the label is part of the Dr Bronner's experience! It's really tiny print so I haven't bothered lately, but still! Check out the hemp-peppermint flavor/scent: https://www.drbronner.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/bronner-US-liquid-32oz-peppermint-LSPE32US5-02.pdf

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u/syringistic 4d ago

At some point many years ago, I really had the urge to go to a busy street corner with a megaphone and start yelling things off the label.

It reads like a weird hippy political activism proclamation.

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u/jaiagreen 4d ago

I really had the urge to go to a busy street corner with a megaphone and start yelling things off the label

That's kind of what the guy who started the company was doing, while making and selling soap to support himself. Then he realized the soap sold really well and started putting his philosophy on the label instead. His descendants have maintained the tradition.

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u/syringistic 4d ago

If anything its very entertaining to read the label while showering:)

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u/Senator_Bink 4d ago

The peppermint isn't too hateful, it just isn't sweet. And you have to be careful to only use a tiny bit on your brush or you'll be foaming like you're rabid.

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u/kendra1972 4d ago

That would be entertaining

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u/ubermeisters 4d ago

I hear if you read the entire bottle you actually get inducted into a Satanist cult

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u/mybustersword 4d ago

You can wash your dishes with it too!

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u/Deacon_Blues1 4d ago

And clean your floor and 87 million other things. I read the bottle when I poop. I do also use it to brush my teeth but not while I poop.

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u/510granle 4d ago

That kills my skin and hair. So drying and harsh

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u/drcubes90 4d ago

Do you dilute it? It's concentrated and isn't meant to be applied straight on, so says the bottle at least

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u/finkfault 4d ago

In all fairness, there’s half a book on the bottle.

I tried it diluted at a friends place and it smelled great (almond I think) but my scalp was so dry after. But I’m also prone to dandruff and live in a very dry state.

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u/drcubes90 4d ago

Ah ya I've never used it as shampoo but have as body soap in a pinch and hand soap

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u/danny5541 4d ago

I use it as shampoo I have a decent head of hair an do only need like 4 or 5 drops for my whole head

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u/kiase 4d ago

Yes, I’ve heard that from some people before. I guess it’s different for everyone! I personally have super dry skin no matter what soap I use and have to be diligent about moisturizing, so I haven’t noticed Dr. Bronner’s being any more drying. I don’t use it for shampoo since I have colored hair so can’t speak to that. Though might be worth giving the bar soap a try as it’s generally more moisturizing than liquid soap and reduces exposure to phthalates.

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u/Senator_Bink 4d ago

The lavender and the tea tree versions are really rough on my skin; I do all right with the rose and the peppermint. But I don't like to use the peppermint much in cooler weather because it's bracing.

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u/banjaxe 4d ago

On a hot summer day though? Nothing like a little Dr Bronner's Peppermint Butthole to start the morning. It'll wake you right up.

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u/theyeshaveit 4d ago

It takes a little time for the skin to get used to it but after a week or two, my skin seemed to adjust.

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u/Jim-N-Tonic 4d ago

It has to be diluted, and I had a college roommate who mixed vitamin e oil and lavender oil and some other things I forget.

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u/cmVkZGl0 4d ago

Lavender oil is terrible for the skin. It sensitizes it.

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u/Jaded-Af 4d ago

Buy a shampoo bar and body soap. I get mine at the grocery store. Nothing toxic in it. Plus no big plastic bottle to add to the landfill.

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u/Merciless_Cult 4d ago

Shampoo bars are great! I switched recently to having all bar soap (shampoo, conditioner, and body wash) and actually prefer them now.

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u/satansheat 4d ago

I liked my shampoo bar but it didn’t last nearly as long as a shampoo bottle. Granted mine came from lush and looked like a urinal cake. So it was small. But still.

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u/Nolsoth 4d ago edited 4d ago

Those little lush ones tend to go fast, I found mine lived a tad longer of they weren't living in the shower ( I think being wet constantly breaks them down faster).

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u/pheonixblade9 4d ago

You can get a little case for them.

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u/the_saradoodle 4d ago

Shave/cut them and only take a bit in at a time. There's no chemical stabilizers in those and most handmade soaps, so they dissolve more quickly.

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u/missdespair 4d ago

The Lush ones still have SLS, which from what I've seen isn't really a health hazard or anything, but can be really drying.

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u/DigitalPelvis 4d ago

In certain use cases it can cause issues - for me, SLS in toothpaste gives me a ridiculous amount of canker sores.

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u/obviouspayphone 4d ago

What brand is your bar conditioner? I’m struggling to even find good quality bar shampoo here in Canada. Right now I’m using “Quo” brand and not super impressed.

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u/shadowflame46 4d ago

I use Ethique shampoo and conditioner bars. I’ve also tried several other types of bars in their sample kits and enjoyed those too. My favorite conditioners are untangled and the guardian. I have several favorite shampoos. Also if you don’t like the bar they’ll help you find the right one for you and exchange it. https://ethique.com

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u/Merciless_Cult 4d ago

I’m really liking the clarifying and astringent properties of the shampoo bar I’m using. It’s only around $5 USD: Love and Beauty Shampoo bar

And for the conditioner bars, I don’t find them to be AS hydrating as I’d like them to be, but I’m using this eco roots bar. It’s a bit small though for the price. To get a better moisturizing effect I have a big bottle of jojoba oil that I add a bit into my hair after I shower. Still pretty good though and a lot of people seem to like it! There are fragrance free options, which I really like.

Conditioner bar: ecoroots conditioning bar

Edit: also I’m in the US, so I’m unsure if you can get it shipped to Canada ): but the shampoo bar is a pretty popular brand and could be available to you

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u/mercuryrising137 4d ago

Search for shampoo bars Canada on Etsy. We have TONNES of small businesses here making SLS free bars and conditioner blocks, and for reasonable prices too.

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u/Nray 4d ago

One drawback to shampoo bars is that they tend to have an alkaline pH, so those with longer hair often need to followup with an apple cider vinegar rinse. And shampoo bars should be avoided by those with semi-permanent hair color because they’ll fade the color faster.

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u/Jaded-Af 4d ago

I have long hair and I do the apple cider wash once or twice a week. I also don’t wash my hair every day. That makes it easier.

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u/swinkie71 4d ago

What does the apple cider wash do for you?

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u/Cowboywizzard 4d ago

Those things leave residue on my skin and dry out my skin. They also leave soap scum on my shower.

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u/invaderpixel 4d ago

I recommend "Jason's" and "Love, Beauty and Planet" and "Every Man Jack". Also Target lets you search for products that are phthalate free so that can help you explore more brands.

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u/Wenfield42 4d ago

I don't know about their hair products, but I'll always go to bat for Every Man Jack's body wash! Easily the best I've used.

Bonus: I've noticed that I get less bug bites when I wear their mint and eucalyptus body wash. Which has way more to do with mint and eucalyptus being natural insect repellents than anything to do with the company, but it's still nice info to share.

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u/TheyCallMeStone 4d ago

I'm also here to say I use Every Man Jack products and I love them!

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u/MtnyCptn 4d ago edited 4d ago

I just recently started making my own soap. Super easy and surprisingly cheap. If you want instructions just let me know and I’ll give you my basic recipe and how I do it.

Edit: am scared to share as I’m still fairly new but here is what I have made with success:

10 oz Olive oil 10 oz Avocado oil 10 oz coconut oil 5 oz Shea butter 5.2 oz lye 11.6 oz water 1 oz of essential oil (optional) 2 tsp clay (optional) Mica colorant (optional)

Add water to a glass or heat safe plastic bowl. Add lye to water (watch a lye safety video. It’s not rocket science but can burn you). Once cool add your clay if using.

Melt your hard oils, then add your liquid oils. Let this cool. Blend until emulsified (stick blender works best).

Add lye to oil mixture and mix (again stick blender if you have it) until it is like a thin pancake batter. Add your colorant and fragrance if using. Pour into silicone mold. If you don’t have one you could likely use any square container lined with freezer paper (it might just end up a little ugly).

Let set for 2-3 days, cut and then let cure for 4-6 weeks.

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

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u/Asil_Shamrock 4d ago

Yay, another soapmaker!

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u/SaftigMo 4d ago

Most products are phthalates-free. Even drugstore brands.

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u/The_Musing_Platypus 4d ago

I work in personal care and color cosmetic formulation.

You'll be hardpressed to find almost any decent brand accepting anything pthalate related nowadays. New ingredients all require pthalate-free statements to even be considered for coding.

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u/nomad80 4d ago edited 4d ago

Hm so this article falls under the “technically accurate, but not really” kind? When it says “everywhere chemicals” I figured this stuff is still in circulation.

E: nvm just saw this https://reddit.com/r/science/comments/q7g0zr/chemicals_in_shampoo_and_makeup_are_linked_to/hgj7il1

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u/HighruleJ 4d ago

ok now that we know, we should ban the use of all the chemicals that were linked to early death....right?

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u/nagi603 4d ago

Right, right, right... But phase-out will first happen in the EU, in 10-20 years, while the US will have them for let's say... 3 decades more? You have to milk those profits.

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u/sk07ch 4d ago

Morevover, after they will just start using new chemicals until proven toxic...

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u/WhyDidIMake 4d ago

It doesn’t always work well, but generally EU regulators require a product to be proven safe to be sold, while US regulators ban product that are proven to be hazards. As you can imagine, even with flawed implementation, the EU model is much more effective.

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u/tanglisha 4d ago

Is that for everything? Seems like the EU, Australia, and most of Asia are far ahead of the US with sunscreens. The ones from Australia are even coral safe.

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u/nagi603 4d ago

The circle of life.... or in this case, profiteering.

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u/__Karadoc__ 4d ago

The EU already (since 2006) has regulations against the use of phtalates especially the high molecular weight ones that are mentionned in this study. Yall are in the Bad Place.

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u/stylecrime 4d ago

It said scientists have known they were harmful for decades. Why the feck are we still using them now??

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u/agent0731 4d ago

Because cheap and it takes money to create alternatives/change recipes.

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u/Leemour 4d ago edited 4d ago

Search "manufactured ignorance". Basically, the big corps will fund bogus researches in order to delay the science from being "absolutely sure" on the toxicity of their products. Tobacco, alcohol, plastics, pesticides, etc., have all required (and some still require) a lot of time for any legislation to be passed against them is because they keep delaying the scientific consensus, which means delaying the legislation that would hurt their business (because we technically do, actually need the science to be certain when passing laws based on scientific research).

EDIT: Literally from the article

Industry Leaders Pushed Back

The American Chemistry Council, which represents the US chemical, plastics, and chlorine industries, sent CNN a statement calling the study "demonstrably inaccurate" because it lumped all phthalates into a single group rather than considering the differences in toxicity.

Case in point why we still didn't ban it.

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u/EweAreAllSheep 4d ago

So... this is the argument:

Listen, they're toxic, but you can't ban them all because some are more toxic than others.

Until you know exactly how toxic they all are, you can't ban them.

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u/kombinacja 4d ago

more research needs to be done, but the FDA should make cosmetic regulations a priority

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u/theCramps 4d ago edited 4d ago

Can someone ELIA5 please what I need to buy now?

And where Kroger/Target/Amazon etc??

Edit : Thank you for all the informative responses, Always count on random internet strangers to come to the rescue.

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u/f3nnies 4d ago

If you want to err on the side of caution, avoid phthalates. You can find phthalate-free beauty and hygiene products at virtually every single store that sells them, they're super common. Definitely see them at Kroger, Target, Amazon, and Walmart. Most of them are going to actually specify phthalate-free on the bottle, so your current selections might even be safe.

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u/theCramps 4d ago

Will it say phthalate free on the bottle usually? Like easy to read or find? And I should avoid bottles as well? Go for bar form?

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u/fridayfridayjones 4d ago

Yep it’s becoming a selling point so it should be on the label. You may pay a bit more for phthalate free, paraben free, etc. You want to look out because chemicals like this can sneak in under the guise of “fragrance,” which in the US if something is used for fragrance in the product the manufacturer is not required to list it. They can just print fragrance and there could be literally dozens of substances in the product that are used to add the fragrance. That’s why the advice is to look for fragrance free items whenever you can.

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u/m6_is_me 4d ago

phthalates / fragrance

Spooky to see the non-descript "fragrance" "ingredient" on all my stuff.

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u/fridayfridayjones 4d ago

It’s unsettling to me because it’s everywhere. I started cutting out fragrances when I got pregnant because basically every smell was making me throw up. And looking around my house it was insane, there’s fragrance in dish soap, hand soap, etc but also, even the trash bags we used to buy were scented! Tissues, cat litter, laundry products, every kind of cleaning product, everything has it. When my daughter was one I realized I could reintroduce that kind of stuff to my life, but when I tried things like my old favorite candles, perfumes and shower products, smelling them made me physically ill. I get nausea and headaches now if I encounter these things. Thankfully it seems there are more fragrance free options popping up now.

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u/m6_is_me 4d ago

I assume that there are still scents in "fragrance"-free things? The scented trash bags are overkill for sure, but I sure do love to smell like grapefruit. Jeez, it's even in my skincare stuff. The only two items spared were my leave-in conditioner and my hair putty.

Unsettling indeed. At least if it is truly detrimental long-term, I'll be stopping it relatively early in life. Good tip on it being under the generic name.

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u/fridayfridayjones 4d ago

So, it really depends on the product. I’ve taken to emailing companies to ask them what’s in their fragrance, and if they won’t give me a satisfactory answer that’s an immediate sign to me not to buy. A good company will tell you the ingredients to the fragrance and might even be so helpful as to explain what they are and why they’re there so you can make an informed decision. But anyway yes some things marked fragrance free still have a scent because there’s a functional ingredient in them that happens to have a smell- like orange oil might show up in a cleaning product. It serves a purpose so they can’t take it out. But other times the fragrance is optional so a company can just omit that stuff entirely, an example would be laundry detergent, I use the brand Dropps unscented version and I’m very satisfied with their ingredients. It also has no smell at all.

Sorry for the essays here, haha! I just find this topic very interesting and I feel quite strongly that we as consumers deserve to know precisely what’s in the things we buy.

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u/axon_resonance 4d ago

ELI5, phthalates are in a lot of products, ranging from shampoo to Tupperware to the air freshener in your car. We've known that phthalates can modify hormonal responses for a long time. This study just tries to quantify how much of an effect it has. Turns out not very, even though like always, the science reporting is exaggerated here to make a headline. (Truth be told, the effect is slightly exaggerated by the study authors as well)

More technical, they found phthalate metabolites in their sample population at a hazard ratio index of 1.14 and 1.10 for 2 specific metabolites, this number represents the probability of detrimental effects. An HR of 2 means you are 100% or twice as likely to die. 100% of what probability though is vague and dependent on the individual. So essentially these 2 metabolites increase mortality by 14 and 10%, of what baseline, unknown. So if you can interpret the science, yes it's harmful but no it probably won't kill you tomorrow and there's no great need to adjust your lifestyle to avoid phthalates, as that would more likely inconvenience your lifestyle more than if you had just ignored this article

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u/someguy3 4d ago edited 4d ago

I'm more worried about phthalates in my food. Eg canned food, inside of takeout containers, pop cans, etc

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u/axon_resonance 4d ago

That's more of an issue, and I'd say the easiest to remedy. When you're microwaving foods, just pour it out into glassware and you avoid a small portion of phthalates through ingestion. Avoid plastic bottles of water that have been left in the sun for too long, etc. There's certainly plenty of small changes you can make if you're really worried. But again, it's a very minimal problem. Eating oily takeout for the 5th time of the week is more likely to kill you via coronary heart disease than the phthalates you might be exposed to from microwaving said takeout.

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u/katarh 4d ago

Been slowly phasing out my cheap plastic food containers and dishes for proper ceramic ones. Turns out my in-laws had stashed grandma's dishes in the shed for decades, and there were dozens of vintage Corningware casseroles, bowls, plates, etc. I took them ALL. (Some of them are quite valuable, I later found out.)

Got some wonderful single serve size mini casserole dishes that are perfect for storing leftovers for lunch the next day.

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u/peggita 4d ago

Man have I got some bad news for you about vintage ceramics and corningware

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u/ropper1 3d ago

Vintage corningware often has high levels of lead. Stick with glass to be safe

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u/oatmealparty 4d ago

The question I need answered is: how can I tell if they're in my shampoo or whatever? Is it an ingredient in the shampoo, or does it come from the plastic container? If a shampoo says it's phthalate free that's good enough for me, but if it doesn't, should I assume it's there or can I look for specific ingredients?

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u/elementgermanium 4d ago

Not to mention phthalates are often used in packaging for processed foods which are already known to be unhealthy, so it could easily be a result of that rather than phtalates themselves IIRC

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u/LordofRice 4d ago

They've directly linked phthalate exposure of fetal rats to genital malformation and were able to find the same trend in newborns with confirmation of high phthalate concentrations in the mother's blood.

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u/ComplacentGoat 4d ago

I use Palmolive Pure and Clear for everything except toothpaste. No parabens, dyes, phosphates, pthalates or fragrances. Doesn't dry out my skin or hair either. It's also cheap af

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u/austinredditaustin 4d ago

Now that is interesting

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u/MGPS 4d ago edited 4d ago

Can’t go wrong with Dr. Bronners

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u/knotquiteawake 4d ago

Bronners is great and feels all tingly and stuff but it also strips your skin so clean you feel all dry and crackly afterwards. It’s really harsh on my hair too. This speaking as a guy who typically doesn’t care much about “comfort” with soap. I can’t use it all the time.

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u/tveir 4d ago

Dr. Bronner's is not the right pH to use on skin and can strip the protective lipid layer.

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u/CatOfGrey 4d ago edited 4d ago

This is bad science. (EDIT: I think it's probably more of a 'bad science journalism' rather than bad science)

The American Chemistry Council, which represents the US chemical, plastics, and chlorine industries, sent CNN a statement calling the study "demonstrably inaccurate" because it lumped all phthalates into a single group rather than considering the differences in toxicity.

But Trasande told Insider that the ACC's response was "predictably similar to those used by the tobacco industry when studies showed evidence of that harm," and that the council provided no evidence to contradict the study's findings.

The response here is inadequate, and fallacious. There's a difference between presenting an affirmative connection between smoking and lunch cancer, and presenting a vague connection between a chemical and the consumer products that contain a chemical. The study compared people with high levels of phthalates in urine with health problems, but failed to connect any consumer product with urine levels.

To finish this study, I would look at high and low urine levels, and compare them with consumption of consumer products. See if there is a relationship. For all we know, the study merely discovered that people with some other disease that elevates certain chemicals in urine is the cause of other health problems.

In fact, even the study itself expressed this:

Further studies are needed to corroborate observations and identify mechanisms.

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u/dk00111 4d ago

Looking at the other comments on here, the scientific literacy of this sub is shockingly poor. Thanks for bringing some sanity into the discussion.

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u/JoLePerz 4d ago

Hello, I am not proud to say this but I'm one of those people whose scientific literacy is poor.

How would one improve his/her scientific literacy?

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u/Lacksi 3d ago

Biggest thing you can do is read the abstract of the studies yourself instead of reading an article about it. Any good article will link the study directly and if they dont then you probably dont want to read that journalist's writing.

Maaaaaaaaaany papers will deliberately point out their shortcomings and what more needs to be researched, in my experience many journalists tend to ignore that section.

Other than that, try to make sure whether a study proved a correlation or a causation. In this phlathlet study for example its only a correlation between urine content and death, no causation has been proven here.

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u/informationtiger 4d ago

Exactly! Glad this sub still had some 'science' left in it.

I mean you see alarming headlines like this every week from low quality Tabloid Media.

In reality it's always closer to something like Phthalates may shorten lifespan.

Ideally if you're not sure you'd first study each chemical separately and then do in-vitro tests on cell cultures and in-vivo studies on animals (rats) with ridiculously high doses over many generations (especially for cancer/mutations).

And just as it's always the case with these headlines, the regulators are usually well aware of ongoing research and any potential problems, so if the substance hasn't been banned by multiple agencies worldwide, it probably means there's no evidence as of yet.

Case in point: Glyphosate.

Nuance is key to discussion on this sub if we want to practice good science. The likes of Tabloid Media should be avoided at all costs if possible.

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u/informationtiger 4d ago

Just compare the headlines below.

Original study title: Phthalates and attributable mortality: A population-based longitudinal cohort study and cost analysis

ScienceDaily: Deaths linked to ‘hormone disruptor’ chemical costs billions in lost US productivity

Business Insider: Chemicals in shampoo and makeup are linked to early death, study finds

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u/EmbracingHoffman 4d ago

And just as it's always the case with these headlines, the regulators are usually well aware of ongoing research and any potential problems, so if the substance hasn't been banned by multiple agencies worldwide, it probably means there's no evidence as of yet.

I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but this implies that there's no financial influence over regulatory mechanisms... which is demonstrably false. Profit motive overcomes compelling data pretty often. But, yes, we should be skeptical / critical.

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u/swerve408 4d ago

How come this sub is quick to throw the correlation does not equate causation phrase, but for this post everyone is immediately accepting the headline and asking for soap recommendations?

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u/saltysweat 4d ago

Easy enough to change your shampoo. People more likely to dismiss something negative if they have no control over it.

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u/OrcOfDoom 4d ago

I wonder if this stuff is in all the microplastics that we keep hearing is in our food and drinking water.

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u/UniqueUsername3171 4d ago

It depends if there were phthalates in the plastic to begin with. But yes, they can be found in micro plastics. At this point eliminating them is like trying to use your hands to put toothpaste back in the tube, it’s be easier at this point to just find a new Earth.

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u/electro1ight 4d ago

It only lasts for about 2000 years. So step 1 is ban the production of it globally. Step 2 is to limp along for 2000 more years.

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u/doiveo 4d ago

like trying to use your hands to put toothpaste back in the tube

This is actually really easy - the tube will suck most of it back up if counter squeezed.

It's a slow and methodical process but definitely not as hard as cleaning up plastics waste or solving climate change.

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u/dis_what_I_say 4d ago

Or perhaps this is a really good analogy. We just haven’t invented the “using hands to put toothpaste back in tube” of microplastics/climate change yet

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u/Gbuddyman 4d ago

I use Prell the hard stuff. Take your roots out.

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u/Expecto_nihilus 4d ago

^ This guy Seinfelds.

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u/Daltons_Mullet 4d ago

Finally, being a bald man has come in handy. Haven't used shampoo in decades.

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u/eighthourlunch 4d ago

Yup, I'm immortal and aerodynamic!

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u/Jgflight86 4d ago

Not the shampooooo aaaahh I've been using that ooh ol Gil's gonna die early