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

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  • Great advice,something to remember when buying skin-care and l like to get a sample to try before my purchase.


  • Great article. I have been reacting to certain products with harsh chemicals


  • A tip on sunscreens. I asked questions at a few different pharmacies. I wanted to be sure some weren’t just “pushing” some brands.
    Kids Sunscreens are safe that most of those used by Adults. Kids Sunscreens are fragrance free, and don’t contain “nasty” chemicals used to retain the fragrance in them. As some of us have very sensitive, I also found out that some ladies’ cosmetics – liquid foudations also have sunscreen in them. I was advised of that by a dermatologist at a Public Hospital and told which ones had the least chemicals in them. I read the details on a few brands, and the one recommended to me did in fact have some organic “ingredients” in it too.


  • I am a fan of natural products and always read labels and take care with my skin.

    • I save quite a bit of money too by using mainly natural products.

      • yeah it sure is good to save a dollar and help the earth out while you are doing that!


  • yeah it is good to be aware of what you are putting on your body. when i was pregnant, i read an article about avoiding all these products even certain shampoos because they have nasties in them. i overhauled everything!


  • Great tips, thanks!! I read labels on good that I give my kids but not really my cosmetics but will do now.


  • I must admit that I don’t regularly check the labels on skin care products. I should do it. I do it for food products, why not for these ones?
    Thanks for the informative article!


  • Lke it


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