Chemicals to avoid - Parabens
The controversy of Parabens
Primary function – Cosmetic preservativeWhile all cosmetic formulators agree that preservatives are absolutely necessary to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold in products (such as creams, lotions), there are varied opinions and choices of preservatives used. Parabens are to-date considered the most controversial and debated preservative due to many studies that have been conducted (some considered inconclusive). They are also the most common in many drugstore brands. Parabens are cheap preservatives that are often used when mass producing products that need to sit on shelves for 2-5 years, shipped far and exposed to very extreme temperatures. Thus they are a convenient and economical option for companies. Many large cosmetic formulators have huge profit margins on their products derived by keeping costs low per unit of the product. Parabens offer that convenience. However, they may not be healthy for consumers.
Parabens are endocrine disruptors. When applied topically, they are very quickly absorbed by your skin, are in the blood stream within hours and mimic hormones (estrogen) disrupting your body’s hormone system. Some studies have shown the presence of Parabens in breast cancer tissue. Parabens also interfere with the male reproductive system. In addition, Methyl paraben on skin can react with UVB radiation and increase oxidative damage that leads to skin aging. Yet, they are widely used in cosmetics. Parabens are also used to fragrance cosmetics and as fragrances are considered proprietary, the constituent chemicals are not required to be listed. Companies that use parabens would argue that they are constituted in small and acceptable amounts that are not causes for concern. Even so, the effects of parabens is additive based on all the products (with acceptable levels of parabens) that consumers may use.