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What are Parabens? Why Are Parabens Bad for You?

Posted by Martin Larsson on

Over the last decade, there has been a renewed interest in all-natural and organic products, with everyday people trying to get away from using products full of chemicals and artificial ingredients in their home and body. There has been a lot of talk recently about parabens and how especially skin care products containing these chemicals should be avoided. Here's why.

What is Paraben? What Are Parabens?


Before we talk about why you should definitely steer clear of paraben-based skin care products, it probably would be helpful if you knew what a paraben is. Parabens are a group of chemicals that are used as a preservative in a wide variety of products, mostly in skin care. Typically inexpensive to produce, these chemicals are usually used as a preservative, preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi. Parabens are all man-made and do not occur in nature. What are parabens used for? Well, because parabens are cheap and dissolve well into other substances and absorb easily into the skin, they work as a great additive in non organic skin care products. The problem is, parabens are petroleum-based. Does absorbing petroleum into your skin sound like a healthy or good idea to you? As more and more people are becoming aware of the potential health risks that parabens pose, they are switching over to using all natural or organic skin care products.

Why Are Parabens Bad for You? Reasons to Avoid Paraben

If the idea of absorbing petroleum into your skin isn't alarming enough, here are some more reasons to avoid paraben and use only all natural lotions, organic soaps, and chemical free body washes. One of the most harmful ingredients in makeup, paraben is hazardous or even toxic for many reasons and affect people in different ways.

If you have sensitive skin, parabens might cause skin irritation, especially in children and babies. More serious skin conditions that are associated with parabens include allergic reactions, rosacea, and dermatitis. In addition to skin conditions, parabens have also been associated with early onset puberty in girls, immunotoxicity, premature aging of the skin, and the development of breast cancer. While popular and widespread, there are many reasons why you should avoid paraben, as science is still unsure of all of its possible affects on your health.

What Products Contain Parabens?

Parabens are found in many different beauty products, including shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics, moisturizers, and lotions. Very similar to paraben, many chapsticks contain petrolatum, causing some to wonder if chapstick is bad for you. They are also used in personal hygiene products such as toothpaste, deodorant, and shaving cream. Parabens are hard to avoid, as they're listed as ingredients on thousands of personal care products.

What Does "Paraben Free" Mean?

If a product is labeled paraben free, it does not contain any chemicals referred to as paraben. Don't worry: though they're often a little harder to find, there are toiletries out there that don't contain parabens. Instead of relying on parabens, lots of natural skin care companies use vitamins, essential oils, and botanical extracts as natural preservatives. These elements not only have antibacterial and antifungal properties, but they also provide health benefits to your skin. These all-natural skin care products also have a great shelf life of over a year and don't contain any potentially harmful chemicals. Why don't big companies use these natural preservatives? Well, it probably all comes down to cost. The real thing usually costs more than an artificial substitute, and that's why you are usually going to pay more for all-natural goods.

Benefits of Using Paraben Free Skin Care Products

  • Paraben free skin care products are safer because they do not put you at risk of potentially harmful effects.
  • Paraben free sunscreen allows your body to function at a more optimal level, not disrupting the reproductive or endocrine system or irritating the skin like paraben additives can.
  • Since all natural skin care products contain no paraben, they actually have the potential to truly heal your damaged, dry, or irritated skin, leaving it feeling fresh and moisturized. Natural skin care products can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and protect the skin.
  • Paraben free skin care products are usually light and non-greasy with pleasant scents that are not too overpowering (or even nauseating).

Still Not Convinced? Do a Paraben Free Test

If you still aren't convinced that paraben free is the way to go, do a test. Try a paraben free, all natural product and then test it against a similar product that does contain parabens. Once you do this simple test, you'll see that paraben free personal products stay on your body longer, causing you to have to use less of the product. While you might have to pay more initially for paraben free, having to use the products less might save you money in the long run, and cause you to ingest less chemicals than you normally would.

Different Names for Parabens: How to Know if a Product Contains Paraben

When you are searching for safer, more natural skin care products to replace tones that contain paraben, be wary, as not all products that are labeled natural or organic are necessarily paraben free. Check the labels, but just so you know, parabens go by a lot of different names, and it will be difficult to find a product that lists just "paraben" by itself in the ingredients list. To put it simply, basically any ingredient that contains terms like "ethyl," "butyl," "methyl" and "propyl" is a paraben, like "methylparaben" or "cocamidopropyl." Obviously, also avoid products that contain methylisothiazolinone, methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben in the ingredient list. If you have additional questions, you can always contact the company for more information, though don't be surprised if they don't give you a straight answer...

What Are Parabens?

Now you know what parabens are and why paraben is bad for you. While skin care products with paraben are cheap, is it really worth the health risk? OrganicParaben free skin care products might cost a little more, but the health benefits are truly unknown. Of course, many people use bad skin care products full of chemicals and still live long and healthy lives. How much is the chance of a few extra years added to your life or remaining cancer free worth to you? If you want healthy skin for less, try this healthy honey scrub you can make at home. It's a lot cheaper than a really sugar scrub facial.


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