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Estrogen in my face cream

December 29, 2008 Reviewed by admin 14 Comments
As much as we try to keep an eye out for our favorite anti-aging ingredients (ie. matrixyl 3000, idebenone, syn-tacks), it is just as important to seek out parts to avoid (ie. BHT, sodium benzoate, phenoxyethanol). Nowadays, you'll find cosmetics companies touting all kinds of exclusions, from "paraben free" and "phthalate free" to "gluten free" and "mineral oil free." Based on the latest finding in a study conducted by Breastlink, you may one day see products with "estrogen free" on their labels as well.

Has it ever occurred to you how easily your body can absorb hormones through the skin? Why else would pharmaceutical manufacturers have latched onto the method of topical patches for delivering medications, most notably birth control? Dr. Adrienne Olson, a survivor of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer (ER+ accounts for 75% of breast cancers), drew a connection between estrogen and the moisturizer she used to restore her chemotherapy-drained skin. Because estrogen helps maintain skin integrity and promote a "youthful appearance," she hypothesized that the moisturizer contained estrogen, despite the lack of any reference to estrogenic molecules in the ingredients list.

Following up on Dr. Olson's suspicions, a team of Breastlink's medical experts collected samples of sixteen non-prescription commercial moisturizers (ranging in price from ten dollars to several hundred) from department stores and pharmacies. They endeavored to focus on products promising "youth-enhancing" and "wrinkle-removing" results. The samples were sent to a lab in Oklahoma City and analyzed for three types of humanly produced estrogens: Estroidiol, Estriol, and Estrone. "Designer estrogens," which are chemically modified, were not included in the study.

Six of the moisturizers were found to contain measurable levels of Estriol and Estrone, though nothing in their ingredients indicated any estrogenic hormones. This means that consumers could be unknowingly exposing themselves to common estrogens on a daily basis, at a rate that could be risky for anyone and actually life-threatening for ER+ breast cancer patients. As we covered in a previous post, estrogen-mimicing ingredients crop up in cosmetics under all sorts of guises, including placental extracts, benzophenones, petrochemicals, and alkylphenols.

After we contacted the leader of Breastlink's study, Dr. Olson responed via email that the purpose of the screening test was to encourage others in the scientific community and the FDA to repeat and expand upon the findings. Besides raising concern and informing women, her goal is for manufacturers to maintain tranparency about estrogen-like compounds and to invite additional study. She witheld the brand names of the sixteen moisturizers under scrutiny, which could be misleading since companies frequently change their formulations. And, ultimately, disclosing the specific products might incite undue alarm.

Dr. Olson's team hopes to publish a short summary in a peer reviewed medical journal in the near future.
  • November 3, 2018

    by Deborah

    I have found over the years(I am now 63)that making your own moisturizer is the best and you can make a really high-quality serum with a few oils(the best I think are Kukuai Nut oil, Tamanu oil, Squalene oil, and argon and others, with some drops of organic seed oils (rose hip, Coffee bean oil, Frankensience. These kinds of serums cost nearly a hundred bucks to buy if you can find them, but if you make them yourself you can have quite a bit to last all year. I actually have 15 people that use mine. I use for all my products. You do not need hormones added because these are powerful and effective plant based antioxidants and moisturizers.

  • June 10, 2015

    by janice

    Answer. Make your own creams, perfume, even makeup. Such fun, mostly cheap and you can eat it if you want! Experiment, don't let 'them' experiment on you. Have a go. Janice

  • July 3, 2014

    by Melissa

    I have a question about the estrogen in moisturizers. A relative of mine has just inherited a skin care company after the owner passed. They private label and sell to dermatologists. He has asked me take the company over because I love the industry and he doesn't have time for it. I am excited about the possibilities however, I one of the products, their best seller, is called hormone oil in which the main ingredient is estrogen. This product raised concern for me because I am a 43 yr old woman who has been in full fledged menopause for 3 years now and am taking bio identical hormone replacement therapy. My concern was having too much estrogen if I were to use the face cream. My research has lead me to believe that too much of the estrogens could cause cancer. Therefor, I wouldn't be able to be an advocate for a product that could possibly harm women. Can you confirm that products with estrogens should be avoided or if further research has shown any positives within the product realm?

  • September 5, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Yvonne, I have looked into the royal jelly and estrogen issue and it does seem to be true that it is a "weak" receptor. Sloan Kettering does women with estrogen related cancers to avoid it:

  • July 5, 2012

    by Yvonne Self

    Just discovered Royal Jelly is estrogen or has the same qualities. I am a breast cancer survivor. Not happy about this at all. We should be told what to avoid.

  • December 21, 2011

    by Angelica

    just want to know wat to do with my face and neck i look really old and my neck is wrinklyand my face is very dried and i am only 38 wat can i do

  • April 30, 2009

    by Ashtin

    This site made me realize that face products are not the safest to use. I now check the ingredients and research what I am absorbing into my skin. The is a very interesting target and more women need to realize that some face products are dangerous for our bodies. Thank you so much for posting this, I now feel more safe with the products I am now using.

  • March 11, 2009

    by admin

    A quick glance at Kinerase suggests not - there are no parabens in the skin care range. However, I didn't research every single ingredient in detail and we haven't tried and reviewed this range yet.

  • March 10, 2009

    by Eroca

    OMG, just found out my estrogen levels went through the roof 3 x normal after using Chanel ultra correction, anti wrinkle firming cream. I have to stop it immediately. Baby oil does sound a little drab. Does anyone know if Kinerase products have estrogen.

  • January 9, 2009

    by copley

    Your best bet would be to contact the company who manufactured your moisturizer and inquire about the ingredients on the label and any potential ties to estrogen. Look for products listed as "natural" or "organic," as these are more likely to be estrogen-free, though certainly not fool-proof. You could also concoct your own potion using safe ingredients such as rose water, aloe vera, and essential oils.

    To play it extra safe, you could do as Dr. Olson now does and strictly stick to baby oil for your emollient of choice. Not only is this alternative less than ideal but it also makes you miss out on some of the wonderful anti-aging benefits out there. Hopefully, the cosmetics community will make the risks of estrogen content in every product more transparent in the future.

  • January 9, 2009

    by Mor

    Thanks for the inlightning review. Now a practical question: I was told to change facial cream so that my 1-year-old daughter won't be over-exposed to estogen. Anybody knows of a brnad that is indeed estrogen-free? Or should I just switch to baby/olive oil? I would appreciate any advice.

    Thank you!

  • January 4, 2009

    by marta

    Hi Zoe,
    We posted a while ago on Five Best without phenoxyethanol:

    We shall update/expand this soon.

  • January 3, 2009

    by Zoe

    I'm also very interested in this topic. I have to admit that until I stumbled across this site a couple months ago, I never actually paid much attention to the negative side of cosmetic ingredients. It never occurred to me that if I'm slathering on all of these creams and serums and toners and tonics in the hopes of absorbing the beneficial ingredients through my skin, then I better expect to absorb anything bad right along with. However, avoiding this stuff is easier said than done: right now I feel most confident about my dislike of phenoxyethanol, thanks in part to info I've found on this site, yet I'm finding it in almost every lotion and cream I look into. Maybe you guys could do a list on top-five products that don't contain some of the chemicals you really think we should avoid?

  • December 29, 2008

    by Niall

    Interesting topic. I wonder if the same concern should attach to plant estrogens? Many face creams targeted at older women advertise their effectiveness against "hormonal aging", and contain lots of plant-derived estrogens, from plants like wild yam and black cohosh. Though at least in these cases the companies are being open about it.

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