Free shipping on all orders over $39

Estrogen in my face cream

Reviewed by Copley December 29, 2008 13 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.
  • 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

Join the discussion! Leave a comment below.

My Comment

Add a comment...

-or- Cancel Comment
* Required Fields
truth in aging's five best

Truth In Aging's Five Best

The very best to choose from for your skin concerns.

Read More

truth in aging videos

Truth In Aging Videos

Helpful how-tos and reviews from Marta and friends.

Watch Now

meet our contributors

Meet Our Contributors

The TIA community consists of our trusted reviewers.

Meet Them

be inspired

Be Inspired

Inspiring thoughts and women who are aging gracefully.

Read More