Bisphenol A, or “BPA” as it’s known, is a chemical used in thousands of plastic products including water bottles, food can linings, sports bottles, baby bottles, and other containers. There’s a concern with BPA that stems from its role as an “endocrine disruptor” in which it’s hormone like effects can potentially increase risk for breast and prostate cancer. The plastic containers your skincare products come in can have BPA but are probably safe. So let’s look at the facts.
There is a large body of scientific evidence demonstrating the harmful effects of very small amounts of BPA in laboratory animal studies. While it hasn’t been demonstrated in humans, there’s a very strong suspicion in the scientific community that this chemical also has harmful effects on humans. Because BPA has worked itself into so many common products that most of us deal with every day there may be reason for concern.
In particular, BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics, which are typically hard and clear plastic containers. These containers are marked with resin identification code number 7, placed inside a triangle made of arrows, indicating that it’s recyclable.
Plastic packaging resin identification codes indicate the type of plastic that an item was made from and are used to help consumers know whether and how the item is to be recycled. Code number 7 is the code for mixed plastics so seeing a “7” doesn’t tell you for certain that it contains BPA, but unless it’s also labeled BPA free, it may well likely contain BPA.
Most human exposure to BPA is by ingestion from containers our food and drinks are sold or stored in. Until two years ago, it was thought that BPA was only acquired by ingestion and not through the skin. Then in 2010, studies were published demonstrating the absorption of BPA through human skin, a potentially disturbing finding. Fortunately, most skincare product containers do not contain BPA, but since absorption through the skin has been demonstrated, make sure you check the code on the bottom of your skincare product containers.
While the final word on BPA isn’t in, because of its potent hormone like effects, I suggest minimizing exposure to BPA when possible, especially for pregnant women.