Dec 24, 2011

What are Parabens?

How many times do we read on labels the words 'Paraben Free'....well there are those of us out there who may be unaware as to what a Paraben actually is so I thought I would break it down in layman's terms:-)
What are parabens?
Basically Parabens are preservatives widely used in cosmetics and personal care products such as soap, hair shampoo, conditioners, moisturizers, lotions etc.
Why use parabens?
Parabens are used to extend the shelf life of products and prevent growth of bacteria and fungi therefore 'paraben free' products do have a much shorter shelf life.
Dangers of Parabens
Besides being carcinogenic, they can mess with natural estrogen levels in the body, a vital hormone (especially for women.) They can cause skin rashes, irritation, and other allergic reactions.
Often when we introduce a new product into our skin care routine and have a adverse reaction such as inflammation or dryness, we immediately presume that the product itself is the cause rather than the paraben (preservative) that is in the product. Also due to it technically being a chemical substance, it can even interfere with the body's endocrine system (which is responsible for tissue function, metabolism, and even mood.)

Check your ingredient labels
Words like “natural” and “organic” do not necessarily mean paraben-free.
Below is a list of Parabens
Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Benzyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, Methyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, Ethyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, Propyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, Butyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, Parahydroxybenzoic acid and Parahydroxybenzoate are all forms of parabens.
However if you prefer to use products that have preservatives in them which is understandable considering how expensive creams, lotions and serums can be look for the safe ones such as:
Grapeseed extract, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, sorbic acid, tocopherol (vitamin E), vitamin A (retinyl), and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) these are the safest preservatives that seem to cause the least irritation and have the fewest allergic reactions.

If using paraben free products you can extend the shelf life by doing the following:
  • Store your products in dark containers or opaque packaging to keep them away from the harmful effects of sunlight.
  • Ensure that your packaging is airtight (natural products can oxidize and go rancid when exposed to air).
  • Heat can also be damaging to natural products therefore try to store products in a cupboard or other cool place.
  • Because our fingers can be a host to bacteria, try to avoid dipping your fingers into your jars and bottles. Instead use a clean spoon, toothpick, popsicle stick to obtain the amount that you wish to use. Lotion pumps are great for dispensing fluid ingredients such as lotions and gels and these are easily available for purchase.
Paraben Pros & Cons
Parabens increase the shelf life of the product.
They can cause allergic reactions, irritation, and interfere with your endocrine system therefore having no benefit for your skin whatsoever.

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