Why Paraben-free skin care?
If you use personal care items of any kind; make-up, skin creams, body washes, shampoo, etc., you’ve probably seen the word “paraben” somewhere in the ingredients. But in the past decade or so, there’s been concern over how parabens can affect our health.
What are parabens?
Parabens are chemical compounds of para-hydroxybenzoic acid, and those used commonly in personal care products are propylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben. Parabens have been used since the 1950s as an inexpensive and effective way to stop the growth of bacteria and fungus – helping to preserve the products that we use.
The problem is that parabens are xenoestrogens – they mimic estrogen in the body. Since parabens, like most of what we put on our skin, is readily absorbed, there is concern that parabens can cause estrogen disruption – which has been linked to breast and reproductive cancers and other hormonal issues.
While no conclusive evidence links currently links parabens to these particular issues, there is enough concern that several alternative preservatives are being successfully employed in cosmetics, skin care, and other personal care products.
Should I be afraid of parabens?
Yes… and No. Research is still being conducted in order to find conclusive evidence of whether or not parabens can be considered safe – or if they should be restricted more than they already are. One of the major concerns focuses on a 2004 British study that found intact parabens in the breast tumors of 19 of 20 women studied. While this does not prove causality, it does raise concerns about how parabens can absorb into the skin and remain in tissue. It’s believed that parabens – though they may be present in very small amounts – can accumulate within the body, causing the estrogen disruption that can lead to reproductive problems – and even cancer.
If you have a product you love, and one of the last three or four ingredients listed is a paraben, that indicates it’s present in very small amounts. Does that mean you have to give up that product immediately? Probably not. But it’s worth looking for a substitute that doesn’t contain parabens in the future.
Mellisa B Naturally has formulated all products to be paraben free: we feel there is enough concern about these preservatives that we’d rather not have them in our skin care products.
Should I avoid preservatives completely?
Unfortunately, most of what we eat or use on our bodies has to last a little while. And while we’re using it, we want to avoid fungi and bacteria. So, unless you’re purchasing single-use products (which would get very expensive, and use excessive resources), preservatives are necessary.
The main takeaway is mindfulness. We expose our bodies to unknown ingredients and chemicals constantly – and often without our knowledge. Knowing the potential risks and concerns about parabens will allow you to make more informed decisions about what you are putting on and in your body.