A program of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

Cropped shot of a handsome young man applying moisturizer to his face inside the bathroom at home


It would be easy to think of safe cosmetics and personal care products as a women’s issue, but the reality is that men also use a wide range of personal care products every day. With advertisements focusing on youth, masculinity and power, men receive a barrage of marketing messages. Soap, deodorant, hair gel or pomade, cologne, shaving cream and other products are part of a daily ritual for most men, while products like anti-aging lotion, skin lighteners, and sunscreen use have gone up in use,[1] leaving men vulnerable to a variety of toxic ingredients.

Men’s products, including products marketed to teenage boys, contain a range of unsafe chemicals of concern. Phthalates, a common ingredient found in fragranced products, have been found in higher median levels in men who use products like aftershave or cologne than those who do not use these products.[2] This means men are just as prone to maintaining phthalates in their systems after using fragranced products as women, and that these chemicals are not immediately flushed from the body once applied.

Products of Concern

  • Hair dyes
  • Shampoos
  • Conditioners
  • Hair styling products
  • Body spray
  • Cologne
  • Aftershave
  • Antiperspirant

Chemicals of Concern

Quick Tips
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  1. Avoid or reduce your use of products with added fragrance.
  2. If you dye your hair, make sure to avoid coal tar and lead acetate.
  3. Avoid sunscreens with octinoxate, oxybenzone and homosalate.
  4. Read labels closely and find safer alternatives using tools like Clearya, SkinDeep, and the Think Dirty app.


[1] Beauty and personal care product launches targeted to men increase by 70% over the past six years. (2013, September 10).  http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/beauty-and-personal-care/beauty-personal-care-product-launches-increase-substantially. Accessed online April 22, 2022.

[2] Duty, S., Ackerman, R., Calafat, A., & Hauser, R. (2005, July 18). Personal Care Product Use Predicts Urinary Concentrations of Some Phthalate Monoesters. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1310914/. Accessed online April 22, 2022.

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