What are Parabens?

If you are shopping at the mall, a cosmetics store or grocery store, you have probably noticed labels on different products advertising that there are “No Parabens” in the products. So what exactly are parabens and how do they affect you? Essentially, parabens are chemical preservatives that can be found in shampoo, conditioner, lotion and cosmetics. The purpose of the chemical preservatives is to stop bacteria and fungus from growing while the products are shelved. Research shows that some foods and plants in nature manufacture parabens to stay healthy. However, the parabens found in personal products and cosmetics are manufactured synthetically, which are not natural to our own bodies. Manufacturing companies have been using parabens to make their personal products since the 1950’s. If you were to read the label of one of these products, the common parabens used are: ethyl paraben, butyl paraben, methyl paraben and propyl paraben.


How do Parabens affect the body?

There have been scientific studies done showing a possible link between parabens and an increased link to possible types of breast cancer and reproductive difficulties. The chemicals have been studied and shown to disrupt the hormonal system. Parabens imitate estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. This can create a proliferation of cancer cells to grow in some people. Parabens can also irritate the skin. Because the job of the parabens that are used is to kill bacteria in products that are water-based, they can also damage the good bacteria in our own cells that we need to fight infection. This can lead to allergy and skin irritation.

How to choose products without Parabens?

Of course the easiest way to choose products that don’t use parabens are now usually marked on the label as “Paraben Free.” The best way to tell for sure is to read the ingredient label on the back of the products. You can check any product that you use on your skin or hair such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, scrubs and eye, face and lip cosmetics. Many companies are now manufacturing these products with alternative preservatives that are more natural. Because they are more natural, they usually have an expiration date and shelf life of six months to a year. If you read the label, the chemical preservatives that are synthetic will have a name ending with –paraben in it.

Which companies are using Paraben Free manufacturing?

There are several companies now that allow consumers a wider choice of safe products for those who have chemical sensitivities or want to decrease the exposure of chemicals in their everyday products. Some of these products can be found at Walgreens, Costco, Safeway, Target and many other easy-to-find locations. Some of the items that are more specialized are available online.

  • Aveda (www.aveda.com)
  • Barefoot Botanicals (www.barefoot-botanicals.com)
  • Burt’s Bees (www.burtsbees.com)
  • Earth Science (www.earthsciencenaturals.com)
  • Origins (www.origins.com)
  • Pangea Organics (www.pangeaorganics.com)
  • Josie Maran Cosmetics (www.josiemarancosmetics.com)
  • John Masters Organics (www.johnmasters.com)
AuthorShannon Sullivan