What exactly are parabens? Are they safe? This is a question I’ve had for years and my friends over at provenskincare.com have done amazing research and have allowed me to share the facts with my readers. Here’s everything we need to know about parabens.
What Is A Paraben?
Parabens are a type of preservative used in skin care and personal care products as well as some foods. They are esters of parahydroxybenzoic acid. Many products have stopped using parabens but they can be identified my looking at the ingredient list of products. Some common parabens are listed as Methylparaben, Isobutylparaben,Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isopropylparaben or Propylparaben.
Are They Safe?
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding this subject but generally speaking parabens are considered safe at the levels they are used. Do parabens affect our health? You’ll learn more later in this article.
Why Are Parabens Used?
Parabens are used in many beauty and skin care products as well as some deodorants , toothpastes and even hair care products. The reason they’re used is to protect the products ( and us ) from microbiological contamination, The preservation and shelf life are extremely important to skin care products, especially creams and moisturizers that are used around the eye area, Bacterial contamination cam cause severe infection and irritation.
The Controversy Surrounding Parabens
In 2004 a study was released showing the presence of parabens in breast tumors. People quickly assumed that the study showed that parabens cause cancer. The author later came forward and clarified that the intention of the study was to show that parabens can accumulate in the body intact, not that they cause breast cancer. However, by then, the damage was done, and the entire personal care industry had moved away from parabens.
Are They Harmless?
Not entirely. Methylparaben is proven to accumulate in the skin and decrease cellular renewal, so it’s possible disturb hormone function, triggering premature aging with continued use. Butylparaben has an estrogenic effect, acting as endocrine disruptors. They may bind to estrogen receptors having an unknown effect.
Parabens, in general, are shown to sensitize the skin, especially when applied to damaged or broken skin. However, broken skin is already more sensitive, so this is not a surprising result.
Are There Other Paraben Dangers?
Can I use them if I’m not concerned about sensitivity?
The chemical structure of parabens may cause even the most adventurous product enthusiasts to opt out. For one, the paraben structure contains formaldehyde. Products sold in California that use parabens are required to display a Prop 65 warning, due to the presence of formaldehyde within the paraben chemical structure.
Parabens are also known to contribute to negative effects on the environment and certain parabens, like butylparaben, can kill coral. This has been a major environmental concern for some time now as they have been detected in fish and sediments when water is tested.
How To Avoid Parabens
Avoiding the words on the ingredient list that include the word paraben isn’t enough. You must look for the words “paraben free” on the label. The reason for this is parabens can hide in other blends of ingredients. For example, a company may use green tea extract that is being preserved by parabens and this won’t show on the list of ingredients due to the fact that the amount of parabens used are so low they aren’t required to list them.
So, even though a product does not specifically list a paraben in the ingredient list, it’s important to confirm that products aren’t using individual ingredients preserved with parabens.
Certain retailers have removed or do not carry beauty, hair or personal care products that contain parabens, out of concern for their customers and several consumer product manufacturers have reformulated their lotions, conditioners and other items to remove any presence of parabens.
Should You Avoid All Preservatives?
Will I avoid paraben side effects if I avoid all preservatives? The answer is no. Preservatives are important to keep products shelf stable and safe from harmful bacteria that can cause infection. There are many products out there that use paraben alternatives such as phenoxyethanol.
Paraben alternatives can protect you without all the negative side effects. If you have questions about a certain product you can contact a dermatologist for help. Thanks to provenskincare.com for allowing me to share this with my readers. Check out their website for all the latest in skin care and beauty products. I would love to read your comments so leave them below!