Parabens: What you need to know about beauty’s bogeyman

Posted by: esd admin

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The recent vogue for clean eating is making many of us more conscious about what we’re putting into our bodies. The same movement is also prompting many of us to think twice about the ingredients we’re putting onto our bodies.

Just as the Elizabethans had no idea that lead, arsenic and mercury-based beauty products were steadily poisoning them, there are many ingredients on our dressing tables which may be causing you unknown harm. Arsenic may be an extreme comparison, but it does illustrate the point that we very rarely stop to investigate what we’re using on our skin as part of our daily routines.

If you have recently started to take notice of the ingredients in your beauty products, you’ll no doubt have heard beauty experts talking about the dangers of parabens. But what exactly are parabens? And should we really be worrying about them?

What are Parabens?

Parabens are found in a huge array of beauty products, including shampoos, moisturisers, shaving gels and much, much more. You’ll rarely see “contains parabens” on a bottle, instead you may come across a few paraben types in ingredient lists including: methylparaben (E218), ethylparaben (E214), propylparaben (E216), butylparaben and heptylparaben (E209).


Are Parabens harmful?

These ingredients are added to beauty products to extend their shelf life. They prevent our beauty products from growing mould or fungus, allowing us to get more use from them. However, recent studies have revealed that parabens are able to permeate our skin and remain present in our bodies.

Although there is no conclusive evidence yet, links have been made between parabens, cancer and reproductive issues – particularly in women. This is because parabens appear to have the ability to mimic oestrogen in our bodies. This “fake oestrogen” can cause division of breast cells, which is what has prompted concerns over possible links to breast cancer.

Parabens are also believed to have a negative impact on marine life, due to the cumulative quantities which can eventually end up in our waters, due to cosmetic use. The presence of parabens has been established in the bodies of many marine animals.

Do you try to avoid parabens in your beauty products? Do you have any paraben free recommendations? Have your say below.