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Parabens – Are they Safe?

Although many brands are now switching to safer preservatives, there are still many beauty products formulated with Parabens. It is often found in cosmetics and personal care products such as shampoos, moisturizers, make up, deodorants and even toothpaste. It was really hard to find the products that don’t have this chemical added to the formulation.

So what exactly is Paraben or Parabens?

Parabens have been widely used since the 1950s. Parabens are a class of chemicals often used as preservatives in cosmetic industries, and are mainly used to prevent  bacteria and fungal growth and to greatly extend the shelf life of the products. This is a very important function and sounds harmless enough, but like many preservatives Parabens can sometimes cause problems like contact dermatitis, rosacea and reactions in people with Paraben allergies or chemical sensitivities.

More seriously, there have been many studies saying that parabens are safe for everyday use, but others have linked it to cancer. This is because it has been found in extremely low concentrations in breast cancer tumors. In the 1990s, parabens were deemed xenoestrogens―agents that mimic estrogen in the body. “Estrogen disruption” has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.  And in 2004 British cancer researcher Philippa Darbre, Ph.D., found parabens present in malignant breast tumors. As a result, experts in many countries are recommending limits on paraben levels in cosmetic products. What’s more, watchdog organizations worry that if parabens can be stored in the body, over time they could have a cumulative effect and pose a health risk. (reference; Real Simple website)

 

It’s a controversial topic, but since it’s essentially unknown whether Parabens are harmful or not, avoiding the use of products that contain Parabens when you can, is probably a good idea.

When a product is used on the skin, it stays there all day and is absorbed into your body. The substances migrate from your skin directly into your bloodstream. So why risk it if it can be avoided?

Luckily there are natural alternatives available and many organic brands using preservatives that are not harmful to your health such as Rosemary Extract, Alpha tocopherol (also known as vitamin E), Potassium Sorbate, Grapefruit Seed Extract (not accepted in EU), Green tea extract, Elderberry Extract, Salicylic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sorbic Acid to name a few.

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