It’s our duty as consumers to check the components of products we are purchasing. We check them so we’re properly informed of their expiration date, ingredients, directions for use, and caution label. Checking the label of products is important to ensure that before purchasing the product, it doesn’t contain any ingredient that can trigger allergic reactions. One of the many things we are not accustomed to seeing is paraben-free products.
Checking the label before purchasing should be common practice so we can make informed and smart purchasing decisions.
The tide has changed now and when going on grocery runs, it’s hard not to notice the text plastered on products saying, “paraben-free.” What are parabens and why are brands marketing their products not including this particular component? Well, this article has got you covered! Let’s take a deep dive into parabens, why are they in products in the first place, and why are they being removed now?
What are parabens?
Parabens lengthen the shelf life of products.
Parabens are chemical preservatives that are commonly found in cosmetic products. You’ll notice the paraben as one of the active ingredients in moisturizers, shampoos, lotions, and many more. This component hinders the growth of bacteria, molds, fungus, and microbes to prolong the product’s shelf life. This is true especially if you keep your products in the safety of your bathroom.
Debates as to whether or not they should be kept in products have been in motion among scientists, product safety regulators, and cosmetic brands. We need to know what’s the real deal as consumers because this directly affects us.
Parabens can be combined with other preservatives in a product to ensure the product will be safe from a broad range of bacteria. Some of the commonly used parabens in cosmetic products are Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, and Ethylparaben. According to Harper’s Bazaar, parabens is one of the many ingredients to avoid in cosmetic products if you’re on the hunt for “clean beauty.”
Why are brands going paraben-free?
Paraben-free products are a hit in the market because it claims to be “safer” than those that are not.
If the rationale behind parabens in products is to prohibit the growth of bacteria and microbes, why are brands proudly vocal about their paraben-free products? The discussion among experts about parabens is that long-time exposure to parabens can lead to health deficiencies such as interference with hormone function, allergic reactions, and in severe cases, cancer.
Parabens allow us to use our products for a long time but apparently, this component seeps into our skin as well. Once the paraben enters the skin, scientists say that it stays in the body tissues. Pregnant women should also be wary of parabens in products because studies have shown that parabens were also found in breast milk. This preservative was also found in the breast tissues of breast cancer patients.
This product preservative is a xenoestrogen, meaning it mimics the hormone estrogen in the body. Excessive estrogen leads to an increase in breast cell division and the growth of tumors. This is the premise of experts when linking the correlation of paraben exposure and breast cancer. Some people are also allergic to parabens. These allergic reactions include redness, irritation, hives, flaking, and many more.
Humans are not the only ones affected by the adverse effects of parabens but animals and the environment as well. It’s been reported by a recent study that paraben has been found in the bodies of marine animals. Experts reveal that this may be the result of parabens from our products being released into the sewage system and making their way to our oceans.
On the other hand, there are dermatologists who insist that parabens are the “safest” preservative that can be infused in daily products. A product without paraben preservatives could spoil and potentially harm you. Even the United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) explains that consumers do not need to be concerned about parabens found in their cosmetic products.
Another argument from experts who are for paraben preservatives is that this component is naturally occurring in many plants and vegetables such as honeysuckle, carrots, and blueberries to name a few. This rebuts the statement that parabens coming from our beauty products are absorbed by the skin and remain in the bloodstream and tissues.
Parabens may be found in our bodies because they are also found in our food. In order to assess if an ingredient is harmful, analyze it first in context. Parabens may be irritating in concentrated form because of its nature to kill bacteria, yeast, and microbes. But in beauty products, their concentration is always less than one percent.
Furthermore, parabens are the oldest preservatives used for cosmetics and promote themselves as having the lowest allergenic rates among other options.
Paraben-free products are the newest effort of cosmetic brands in response to the debate on product safety discussions.
Given all that information, both sides have legs to stand on. Now, the question here becomes clear. Have brands considered looking for other alternatives for product preservation? The answer is yes, they have. Cosmetic brands have been rolling out their paraben-free products to promote their commitment to more skin-friendly products for all.
But will purchasing paraben-free products cost as much as a luxury home? Well, no really. Paraben-free products are relatively pricier than the regular variants but there are many aspects that are considered when it comes to pricing such as the kind of product, branding, and also the ingredients that make up the product.
But the truth is, paraben-free products are not entirely preservative-free. Brands make use of alcohol, grapefruit seed extracts, or sorbate as alternative preservatives. The product safety entities of each country regulate the paraben concentration on products.
If you want to steer clear of parabens in your shampoo products, you should look for these alternatives in the ingredients list: sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate. For skincare products, you might want to look for alternative preservatives with organic compounds such as salicylic acid, benzoic acid, and sorbic acid.
There are plenty of options you can choose from so spare some time to do a little research on what’s the most grabbed paraben-free products on the market today.
What should consumers do now?
It is important that consumers are aware of these ongoing debates and follow the best skincare test practices.
Researchers are insisting that studies that will be conducted to yield an answer for this dilemma need to evaluate the cumulative impact of several products over the years instead of just studying one particular product. As of now, there is no definitive and clear-cut answer because the debate is still ongoing.
The answer may be inconclusive right now but there are still general rules you can follow to ensure you’re not harming your skin both short and long-term. Always consult your dermatologist before using a new product. Take a patch test on your forearm before lathering it up on major parts of your skin. Stop using a product if you experience negative side effects. Buy products with airtight packaging to limit the exposure of the product to open-air. This will lessen the chances of bacteria building up in your product.
Paraben-free: Health and Wellness Are Paramount
At the end of the day, we all just want to be healthy and happy. As consumers, we need to be aware of what is in the contents of our products. You must read the caution label and ingredients list of your products for you to make a wise decision on your purchases. Do patch tests before using a new product and wait for at least 24 hours to see if you get any kind of allergic reaction.
Visit and consult your dermatologist to check if you have any allergies to certain ingredients. It’s always better to be safe than sorry later. You can also do some independent reading on the topic so you’ll be in the loop on the latest developments in the for and against discussion on parabens.
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