One of the basic principles of healthy lifestyle is learning to read ingredient labels on our food. Does this same principle apply to our beauty and personal care products? New research is saying YES! In about 30 seconds anything you put on your skin is absorbing into your bloodstream. Learning to read and avoid toxic chemicals in our daily products is becoming increasingly more important. Specifically those long seemeingly nonsense words that Propylparabens? Methylparabens? Parabens are found in about 85% of our products, making even trace amounts available to accumulate in our bodies. What exactly are parabens, and should we be consciously avoiding them?
Parabens are used as a preservative in our products, which is an important role! They extend the shelf life and prevent microbial growth. They are made of a series of acids, and grew in popularity because they are easy and cheap to mass produce, and effective. But are there risks associated? While it’s hard to say indefinitely, many signs are pointing to the dangers that can result from paraben exposure over time.
The FDA considers parabens in trace amounts “safe”, but the FDA has no safety testing on beauty products meaning they can’t be sure of the effects of “trace amounts” of 10-15 exposures a day (the average number of care products used daily). What do we know about them? In the 1990’s, parabens were classified as endocrine disrupters. By disrupting the delicate hormonal system, every biological process in the body can be at risk. This can contribute to early puberty, reproduction problems, metabolism and thyroid malfunctions, and many more health concerns. This is especially important to consider on babies and children, whose products are not barred from including parabens. These preservatives have also been found in the breast cancer tumors, creating a suspicion of carcinogenic properties within the research community.
So should we avoid parabens? While it’s hard to get a definite answer right now, it’s a good idea to be conscious. As this concern is growing many brands are stepping up and avoiding the use of parabens in their products, giving a paraben-free alternative to just about anything you use on a daily basis. Until we have more strict regulation or more research on parabens, it can’t hurt to go the extra step to avoid them when reasonably possible.