“PARABEN-FREE” has fast become the new buzz word (or would that be two word hyphenate?) And you know…when we see that something is ‘free’ of something don’t you think your mind automatically tells you that it must be a good thing? But do you even know what a paraben is? My number one rule is EDUCATE yourself. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into at all times…which basically means ALWAYS check the label. If there’s something you don’t understand then choose a product with fewer ingredients and make sure you know what you’re putting on or in your body!
So back to the original question…what is a paraben? In one word it’s a preservative. It’s commonly put into beauty products to help prevent bacteria growth (and has been since the 1950s). As you would probably expect they are inexpensive and effective (music to any business’ ears). The most commonly used parabens are butylparaben, methylparaben (E218), and propylparaben (E216). However, increasingly brands are dropping the parabens in a number of products as the natural beauty industry continues to grow.
What’s the issue I hear you asking? Well in the early 1990’s parabens were deemed agents that mimic estrogen in the body (xenoestrogens) and estrogen disruption has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. There are however no proven scientific links proving that the parabens can cause cancer. In fact, the amount of parabens used is normally quite small and the US Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organisation consider these low levels ‘safe’.
So with all that said where do we stand? As always I advocate that you have to listen to your body and do what is honest and right for you. Me? My skin just hates preservatives. It makes me itch! So I test my limits and use the products that don’t provoke this reaction. I think that it is important to be mindful about these things and really understand what you are putting on your skin (and effectively absorbing into your body) If you want to play it safe, use oil-based organic products that don’t contain water (which calls for a preservative). Or just go for truly natural products and keep an eye on the use by date (yes girls, make up is like milk…throw out the old stuff!). Some of my fave paraben-free brands are Aveda, Dr. Haushka, Yes to Carrots, Neom Organics, Ilia Beauty, Korres, Origins, Aesop, and SOME of the Nars products. (And of course there are bonus points for brands that do not test on animals!)
Go forth and choose wisely.
Disclaimer: I am not a scientist nor I am not a chemist. I am simply a knowledge addict and I ALWAYS advocate choosing the right products for YOU by making informed decisions.