With a load of big words on the back of your skincare products, it can be really hard to decipher what’s what! As more people become interested in natural beauty and skincare, “Paraben free” is something to keep an eye out for. But what exactly are parabens and why should they be avoided?
What are Parabens?
Parabens are a group of chemicals (p-hydroxybenzoic acid (PHBA) esters) which are used as preservatives in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. This basically means that they help the product last for a longer time and prevents spoiling.
The parabens group includes Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, and Benzylparaben. Parabens are frequently found in moisturisers, hair care products, shaving products, make up and even food. They are only allowed to be used in cosmetics in very low concentrations, but because of the wide range of products they can be found in, it’s estimated that daily use can exceed 17gm for adults. To give some context to this, parabens are often restricted to 4-8 grams per kilogram of product.
Why should we go Paraben free?
In recent years, people are increasingly concerned about the adverse effects of not just a single chemical, but the combination of many chemicals in the skin care products they are using. As we know, whatever we put on our skin is eventually absorbed into our bloodstream. This is no different for parabens, which can absorb through our skin layers and enter our circulation.
Parabens have been found to have estrogenic activity within the body, including in breast, ovarian and testicular tissue, potentially contributing to lowered sperm counts and altered sperm motility. Parabens have also been detected in human urine, blood, fat tissue, amniotic fluid, placenta, and even in breast cancer tissue.
The effects on the body isn’t the only problem with parabens. Because of their widespread use, they are found in high concentrations in waste water treatment plants and require time to degrade. Even though there are methods in place to capture these molecules, parabens have been found in fish, marine mammals, marine birds, and even more remotely in polar bears.
What to Look Out for in Your Products
Have a hunt in the ingredients list to make sure you’re avoiding parabens in your products. At first glance they may seem like long and scary words, but simply hunt for “paraben” at the end of each ingredient.
Our hormone balance is delicate! Avoiding hormone disrupting chemicals like parabens is an important part of maintaining overall wellness throughout life. It’s essential to make sure products are properly preserved so that bacteria, fungi and other microbes don’t grow. The type of preservative however, should be chosen carefully by manufacturers, for both efficacy as well as safety reasons. Fortunately, there are natural options to preserve products, many of which are derived from plants.
We believe that endocrine disrupting chemicals like parabens have no place in cosmetics, which is why parabens and other chemicals are on our Red List. Thanks to our Better Choices Promise, you can shop worry-free knowing all our Good Ingredients Approved products are not only free from nasty chemicals, but environmental pollutants and animal testing too.