Parabens are the best known bad guys in the cosmetic world. Unless you’ve been living on a remote island for the past decade, you’re probably well aware that parabens are bad for your health. How bad are parabens and what purpose do they serve in your toothpaste, shower gel or hand cream? We’ll explore in this short article the current scientific consensus on the matter.
What are parabens used for?
The story starts in the 1950s. Parabens were born in laboratories. They’re man made. Parabens in their various forms are particularly adept at killing bacteria, fungi and mold. Check the labels of your personal care products for the most common forms or parabens: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.
Parabens are commonly found in shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, hand creams, deodorants, toothpastes and makeups. They’re great at killing microbes. So what’s the big deal? There’s always a trade-off, eh?
Why are parabens bad for your health and for nature?
Some scientists argue that parabens are perfectly safe in the minute amounts that we are ingesting. And of course, the dirty cosmetics lobby groups get paid to say there’s nothing to worry about. Don’t forget, in the 1950s, doctors thought it was perfectly safe for women to smoke…
Parabens are endrocrine disrupting and hormone mimicking. Parabens mimick oestrogen. Too much oestrogen may trigger an increase in breast cell division and tumours. Doesn’t sound good, does it?
Parabens have been found in breast cancer cells, urine, seminal fluid, breast milk and in placental tissues. Apparently, if you’re pregnant and you’re lacing your skin with parabens, your yet to be born precious one gets a dose too.
It’s the cumulative effect of parabens that we’re all ingesting on a near constant basis that is worrisome. Some of us may be naturally more sensitive to parabens, while others can withstand higher quantities of the bad stuff.
Parabens are cheap to mass market and convenient for legacy cosmetic manufacturers. Inject a big vat of the stuff for longer shelf life and bigger profits. They don’t care about your health, and they don’t care about the environment either.
Parabens have been found in dolphins, sea otters and polar bears. Marine mammals have likely ingested the bad stuff from our sewage.
Why take the chance with parabens when there are safer natural formulations available? Don’t do dirty manufacturers any favour, instead do yourself a favour and give Mother Earth a big hug. Ditch parabens.
Learn more about parabens