You may notice “Paraben Free” labels popping up everywhere these days and Parabens are probably the most hated cosmetic ingredient currently. But do you know what Parabens are and why we should avoid them?
What are Parabens?
So what are Parabens? Parabens are a chemical that have been used as a preservative in cosmetic and body care products since the 1950s. Parabens are used to prevent and reduce the growth of bacteria and mold, in order to increase the shelf life of the product. Parabens are used in our personal care and beauty products such as shampoos and conditioners, moisturizers, face and skin cleaners, sunscreens, deodorants, shaving gels, toothpastes, makeup and many other products.
Why are Parabens Unsafe or Bad for You?
Are Parabens unsafe? The concern with parabens is that recent studies have shown that they disrupt hormones in the body, can harm fertility and reproductive organs, and can increase the risk of cancer. They can also cause skin irritation and sensitivity.
Studies have been done in the past 20 years that show parabens present in breast tumors. While this does not show that Parabens CAUSE breast cancer, parabens do affect the levels of the hormone estrogen in the body’s cells, and high estrogenic activity is associated with certain forms of breast cancer,
What Parabens to Look for in Your Products
The most commonly used types are methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl- and isobutylparaben.
What are the Alternatives to Parabens?
While there might need to be more research done on parabens, I tend to err on the side of caution. Better safe than sorry. So if you’re looking to steer clear of products that contain parabens, opt for ones that use ingredients such as ethylhexylglycerin (which is plant-derived), naturally derived ether alcohol, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and some essential oils like lavender.
Phenoxyethanol is the current ingredient most brands are using to replace Parabens but it might be just as toxic and irritating. See my recent post on Phenoxyethanol here. As someone who deal with eczema, I have learned that Phenoxyethanol is very irritating to my skin, so I started avoiding that ingredient as well.
If you have any questions on Parabens, please leave me a note in the comment and I will be happy to answer them. Stay well!