There has been a growing concern over the toxic chemicals found in many commercial skincare products today.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) confirms that “one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients” in personal care products are reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors and carcinogens, among other toxic chemicals.
Included in the David Suzuki Foundation’s “dirty dozen” list are parabens, which have also been found to cause negative effects on people’s health.
It’s no wonder paraben-free products are becoming more and more popular.
More cosmetic companies are now making an effort to evaluate their use of these chemicals.
What are parabens?
Parabens are some of the most widely used synthetic preservatives in personal care and skin products. In fact, about 75 to 90 percent of beauty products contain these substances. It comes in various forms such as butylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, benzylparaben, methylparaben, and isobutylparaben. Basically, it’s anything that has the word “paraben” at the end.
This petroleum-based chemical inhibits the growth of bacteria in commercial products, preserving it and extending its shelf life for up to many years. It is also sometimes used as an ingredient for fragrance but is often not listed.
Harmful effects of parabens
There are plenty of good reasons why people should be careful about using products with these chemicals.
Here are some of them:
- Parabens enter the body through the skin. And this is not something you can take lightly, especially because the body can only absorb five pounds of cosmetic chemicals each year. Anything more than that can really wreak havoc on your health and well-being.
- Parabens have been found to cause allergies. They are also among the most common causes of serious skin problems like contact dermatitis.
- Parabens are said to increase the risk of breast cancer. A study from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom revealed that human breast tumours contained high concentrations of parabens. Experts explain that these chemicals mimic the estrogen in the body, which in turn disrupt the health balance of hormones.
- Parabens have been linked to neurological disorders, organ toxicity, and developmental delays in babies and children.
How to find paraben free products
Always read the label before buying anything. If there’s any “paraben” chemical listed in the label, put the product down and find something else.
There are many supposedly natural and organic products that still contain this harmful chemical so you have to be very careful when shopping.
It’s also a must to stay away from products that contain fragrance, since these typically include parabens as one of the ingredients. Hypoallergenic products should also be free of dyes, colourants, petroleum-based chemicals, sodium lauryl sulphate, and other chemicals that cause allergic reactions.
However, it has been a common complaint among consumers that paraben-free and hypoallergenic products are not as effective regular skincare items. Some organic shampoos for example can leave hair dry and frizzy while a few natural facial cleansers are not powerful enough to ward off signs of skin aging or combat acne.
What you can do is a trial and error test. If possible, get a sample first of the organic or natural beauty product that you’re looking at and see how well it works for you.
Another effective technique is to make natural beauty treatments at home.
There are many recipes online that you can use for this purpose. For example, you can make your own organic facial cleanser using honey with this recipe. Not only would you be saving yourself from the harmful effects of parabens, you also get to save money in the long run.
It’s true that parabens and many other chemicals in personal care products can put your health at risk. Don’t let any of these hamper your healthy lifestyle. Turn to natural and organic products, or make your own beauty treatments at home.
Do you read labels on cosmetics or skin care? Please SHARE in the comments below.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com