Parabens, chemicals of questionable safety, are used in most cosmetics as well as food as preservatives.
Where they are used:
Everywhere: In food, and in cosmetics in deodorants, moisturisers, shampoos, sunscreen, makeup...
Parabens imitate oestrogen, and according to the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) all parabens have been proven to have hormone disrupting effects. They are linked with problems like skin aging and weight gain. They are also linked with breast cancer.
Should you worry ?
The debate on their safety continues, but actually Parabens may not even be necessary in cometics ! A paraben-free product made from quality organic ingredients has a shelf of up to three years.
Many companies are already taking the initiative to develop Paraben-free cosmetics. By choosing paraben-free product, you are encouraging the industry to use safer preservatives instead of potentially hormone disrupting ones.
"Up to 60% of whatever we place on our skin goes into our blood stream. Given that we already have on average 91 chemicals in our bodies that don’t belong there, many of which are often triggers for some of the illnesses that affect us, the implications of lathering ourselves with more chemicals doesn’t make a lot of sense." -- Sean Campbell, NOe Cosmetics
How to choose Paraben-free cosmetics:
- The products you need to worry about are the ones that stay on your skin for a long time, for example deodorant and moisturiser. Products that come into contact with the skin only for a short time (for eg. face wash or shampoo) are not so risky.
- Here is a list of Paraben-free cosmetic companies: *link*
- Check your product labels for these terms: They are all forms of parabens.
· Benzyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
· Methyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
· Ethyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
· Propyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
· Butyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
· Parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid)
· Parahydroxybenzoate (p-hydroxybenzoate)
- Know that words like "natural" and "organic" on the label does not mean paraben-free.
- If you see several Parabens on the ingredient list, you should be wary of it.
- Check how high on the ingredient list are the Parabens: the ingredients are arranged according to quantity. So, a Paraben near high up the list means that the product contains a lot of it.
- Use the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database to check the ingredients and safety of products.