What in the world are parabens?
What in the world are Parabens? Why are they in my beauty products? What does this mean to me?
Looking at the back of your favourite shiny bottle of fragranced moisturiser, your expensive cleanser, or your accompanying toner can be frightening, right? The long lists of chemicals and scary sounding words can be overwhelming and just plain confusing... or is that just me??
It's enough to make me want to bury my head in the sand!
Now more than ever a shift is needed to give consumers a wider knowledge on these intimidating ingredients; questions need to be answered! Are these Paraben filled beauty products safe to put on our bodies? Should we be alarmed by the increasing negative 'press' and begin to rethink our beauty products?
So what are they? Parabens are cheap and effective preservatives, used to keep your water-based products from generating harmful bacteria, becoming mouldy or discolouring. Initial tests detected Parabens in the urine of users, and so it was thought that they were fully broken down and secreted by the body. Sounds good right?
Well... The results of an extensive internet search prove the reality isn't as clean and easy as we hoped. Multiple studies have proven that Parabens are not always simply broken down and excreted, at least not in all cases! For example, in a 2012 study, the presence of Paraben esters were found in 99 percent of breast cancer tissues sampled and in a 2016 study, on twenty cancer patients, Parabens were found in all twenty tumours.
These studies prove that, in at least some cases, Parabens are not fully excreted by the body, they are absorbed through our skin and can lodge themselves into body tissue. This maybe a cause for concern, as Parabens are a known endoctirine disruptor, meaning that their shape mimics the shape of, our incredibly important hormone, oestrogen.
One of the jobs oestrogen has is to tell the body when it’s time to start dividing cells. Any increase in cell division is also an increase in the risk of mutations; such as cancerous cells. Needless to say we feel that the unnecessary risk, presented by these imposters, is unacceptable!
Still not convinced? Well an experiment which exposed rats to Parabens, using a skin cream, demonstrated a change in the rat's sexual behavior. Could Parabens be this influential to the way a human body works too?
What seems to be the concluding factor of such research is a ‘pull and push’ reaction with the general consumer. Researchers discover negative results that shock and disgust the public, businesses therefore respond with statements that disparage and convince customers otherwise.
As you can see the weight of evidence for and against Paraben usage can be debated. You could argue that thinking about what’s in your products is useless - hey no one’s judging you! We can all argue that life is too short without having to worry about the scary ingredients listed on the back of our moisturiser labels (ironically, possibly shorter with added Parabens!).
One thing you may take from this blog, is to think about the worth of the beauty products that you use. I'm not suggesting you empty your bathroom cabinet or boycott every chemist or beauty counter that sells Parabens. Although, when you next pick up that bottle, turn it over and have a look, the hope is that you remember the possible outcomes and make a more informed choice. We'd love to help influence more people to use healthier more natural products.
So what now?- Well that's up to you! We have put together a list of the most commonly used Parabens that will help, if you'd like to try and keep your distance from now on!
A good place to start is with the products that you leave on your skin, as these are much more likely to be absorbed. Check the ingredient for :
Some of you may be disapointed that we haven’t addressed the environmental issues of Parabens in this blog. We are all too aware that they exist, so please let us know in the comments if you would like to see more about this subject.
Dermatocare, (2018). ‘5 Adverse Effects of Parabens That Cosmetic Industry Does NOT Want You to Know’ https://www.dermatocare.com/blog/5-adverse-effects-of-parabens-that-cosmetic-industry-does-not-want-you-to-know
Elle, (2018). ‘What Are Parabens? The Truth about Skincare's Biggest Bad Guy’ https://www.elle.com/uk/beauty/skin/articles/a36356/what-are-parabens/
Holland and Barrett, (2019). ‘What are Parabens and are they bad for you?’ https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/the-health-hub/what-are-parabens-and-are-they-bad-for-you/
Mercola, (2012). ‘40 Women with Breast Cancer Had Parabens in Their Tissues’ https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/02/toxic-parabens-on-breast-cancer-patients.aspx
Nivea, (2019). ‘Parabens in cosmetics: What role do they play?’ https://www.nivea.co.uk/advice/nice-skin/parabens-in-cosmetics
Well and good, (2012). ‘Paraben update: New research on beauty’s most problematic preservatives’. https://www.wellandgood.com/good-looks/paraben-update-theres-new-research-on-beautys-most-problematic-preservatives/