When choosing a natural skincare product, you will notice that many of us state that our products are free from parabens (and other nasties). But what are parabens and why should they be avoided?
A paraben is a group of synthetic compounds which are commonly used as preservatives. They were first introduced on a mass scale in the 1950's and it's basically a type of preservative to extend the shelf life of products by preventing the growth of mould & bacteria.
Unfortunately they come under different names on ingredient lists but a couple to watch out for are listed below (note they all finish with the word 'paraben').
Although parabens are mainly used in cosmetics & beauty care products, they can also be found in your food where they are listed as E numbers.
So why should they be avoided?
There is a lot of conflicting information about whether parabens are safe to use in cosmetics & skincare products. Yes, these products only contain a low concentration of parabens which is why they are approved for sale. However there are many arguments for a complete ban on parabens.
When using a skincare product, the parabens can enter your body through your skin & this is where the problems start. The use of parabens has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. They are believed to disrupt hormone function by mimicking oestrogen, and too much oestrogen can trigger an increase in breast cell division and tumour growth.
Parabens are also bad for the environment. Recent scientific studies have found evidence of parabens in the bodies of marine mammals and low levels of the paraben butylparaben can kill off coral.
Plus, parabens can be a source of skin irritation so they are to be avoided if you suffer from eczema or other skin conditions. There are plenty of paraben free products made with natural preservatives which are much better for our skin & overall health.
If you would like to know more about the effect of parabens, check out the below articles:
What are parabens, and why don't they belong in cosmetics?
Should people be concerned about parabens in beatuy products?