Monday, 19 November 2012

Know Your Ingredients | Parabens

Parabens are a VERY common, cosmetic ingredient that stops the growth and development of fungus, bacteria and other microbes in makeup. Parabens have long been the ingredient of choice for cosmetic companies as it stops these microbes from growing in moist and warm environment (like your bathroom). The Cosmetic-saavy of you might notice that a lot of beauty and skincare products are popping up with ‘paraben free’ labels, but you might not exactly know (or care) what Parabens are so in today’s 'Know Your Ingredients’ I’m going to do a little recap on the benefits and negative effects of this ingredient so that next time you pick up a shampoo or conditioner from Boots or Superdrug, a quick glance at the ingredient list can reveal the secret effects of the product.

Are Parabens Safe?

See, no one is 100% sure

Parabens occur naturally in certain fruits and spices like blueberries and cinnamon and has almost always been used as a food additive. Many studies indicate that parabens are practically non-toxic. They are go in and out of bodies fairly quickly with minimal skin reactions  (that is unless you happen to  be allergic)

The problem is that synthetic parabens used in cosmetics display estrogenic activity, this means that they mimic the body´s hormones and can interfere with the body’s hormone system when rubbed into the body and absorbed by the skin. Any Scientist worth their weight in Bunsen burners, will tell you that estrogen stimulates breast cancer. This is a KNOWN MEDICAL FACT.

While no studies have successfully been able to prove that parabens cause cancer, many studies do show that parabens can be detected in roughly 90% of breast cancer tumor samples. It has been associated with the rise of breast cancers because parabens (along with other ingredients) are found in deodorants and the majority of breast cancer tumors are found on the upper sides of the breast. So while there is NO DIRECT LINK between parabens and cancer, it is a cause for concern.

Paraben ingredients are always a mouthful to say (and spell) but they almost always end with the word parabens. A few examples of the most common parabens used in Mascaras, Eyeliners and Lotions are:-

  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben,
  • Propylparaben
  • Benzylparaben,
  • Butylparaben
  • Isoobutylparaben

So hope this clears up the your knowledge on parabens. You can check out my previous post on ‘Phenoxyethanol’, which is now used as an alternative to parabens and can be found in many ‘paraben free’ products. 

I personally don’t have a problem with parabens as long as it is very low in the product ingredient list, however I will NOT use parabens in deodorants (it’s not worth the risk). How do you feel about using products which contain parabens? Doyou use it moderately or avoid it at all costs?