Dibutyl Phthalate



No known benefits

Dibutyl Phthalate description

Also known as DBP, it is a common ingredient in nail polish and most synthetic fragrances sold today. It is used as a plasticizer, fragrance stabilizer, and is a key component in giving nail polish its unique properties. The most common mode of exposure, though, is through foods that come into contact with PVC (polyvinylchloride) plastic packaging. Phthalates are also found in countless other products, including building materials, insecticides, nutritional supplements, children’s toys, and automobiles. In short, it is impossible to completely avoid exposure to phthalates. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) became controversial when The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals - Results for Mono-butyl phthalate [which is] (metabolized from dibutyl phthalate). The report noted that measurable levels of phthalate were found in the urine of the participants in the study. However, the CDC also stated that “Finding a measurable amount of one or more phthalate metabolites in urine does not mean that the level of one or more phthalates causes an adverse health effect. Whether phthalates at the levels of metabolites reported here are a cause for health concern is not yet known; more research is needed.” Despite the negative association phthalate exposure has in animals, an analysis of multiple studies and epidemiologic research led to the conclusion that “...the risks are low, even lower than originally thought, and that there is no convincing evidence of adverse effects on humans. Since the scientific evidence strongly suggests that risks to humans are low, phthalate regulations that have been enacted are unlikely to lead to any marked improvement in public health.”

Dibutyl Phthalate references

  • Food Additives and Contaminants, November 2010, pages 1608-1611,1616
  • Risk Analysis, August 2009, issue 8 pages 1170­-1181
  • Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, February 2009, pages 157­-174
  • Environmental Health Perspectives, December 2000, volume 108, issue 12

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.