The Perils of Parabens & How to Protect Yourself
Hundreds of everyday products contain parabens - and the main reason for this is that they are widely used as effective preservatives by the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
These paraben compounds, and their salts, are used primarily for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties.
They can be found in shampoos, conditioners, hair coloring products, moisturizers, shaving gels, make up, toothpaste, bubble bath, lubricants, topical pharmaceuticals, spray tanning solutions, baby preparations, deodorants, eye and nail products. They are also used as food additives..
Parabens such as Ethyl, Butyl, Methyl, Propyl, and Parahydroxybenzoate are the second most common ingredient in skin care products after water. The very least of the side effects can be skin rashes and other allergic reactions.
Why are we concerned about parabens?
Many people have become very wary of parabens because they have been found in breast cancer tumors. In fact in a very recent study, researchers found parabens in the breast tissue of every woman examined - plus they found extra examples of one type of paraben, Propyl, in the underarm region. This study was carried out under the leadership of Dr Philippa Darbre (reader in oncology at the University of Reading), who has spent years studying parabens and how they get into the body.
The other concern about parabens is that they can mimic the hormone estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancers.
In the July 2002 issue of the Archives of Toxicology, Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health, Japan, reported that exposure of new born male mammals to Butyl “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system.”
So how can you protect yourself and your family from parabens?
- Start reading and checking ingredients on labels because a huge percentage of the products you buy for everyday use contain some form of parabens. It can be difficult to find products that do not use them and the problem with the cosmetic industry is that it is very unregulated so ingredients are often incorrectly listed. Look out for any chemical ingredient that ends in paraben as well as the E number followed by 3 digits (such as E218 which is another name for Methylsuch) as these codes could be used instead of the actual name of the paraben.
- Change from commercial make up and personal toiletries to organic natural products instead. True organic herbal products made from from high quality organic herbs and organic grain alcohol do not even need preservatives because they are shelf-stable for around two to three years.
- Genuine castile soap (liquid or bars) has an excellent shelf-life of up to eighteen months or longer while our own Simply Face Oil has an indefinite shelf life, providing non-greasy, natural face moisturizing for all skin types to nourish and rejuvenate.
- Remember to treat your skin in the same way as you would think about what you eat before consuming it. I have a friend who says she will not put anything on her skin that she would not spread on her toast in the morning. That is excellent advice as long as she is a healthy eater (and she is)! If you happily spread coconut oil or raw butter on your breakfast toast, then this would be just as safe, gentle and healthy for your skin.
The push for products to be paraben-free
The good news is that there is a gradual phasing out of these preservatives occurring in the natural skin care industry. While preservatives are needed, there are all natural, nontoxic preservatives that are both safe and effective.
Many smaller skin care companies proudly state the fact that they are paraben-free. While this is a great option for them because of the smaller quantity of products they make and sell, most larger skin care companies use parabens to enable you to get your supply of product no matter where you shop. Look out for natural skin care lines that avoid toxic cosmetic ingredients and are created entirely from safe, effective botanical ingredients.
Healing Natural Oils is just such a company providing 100% organic essential oils safe and gentle skin care with their beauty range as well as treatment for a host of conditions such as wrinkles, acne, varicose veins, psoriasis, rosacea, eczema and many more.
Engeli R, et al. (2017). Interference of paraben compounds with estrogen metabolism by inhibition of 17β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases. DOI:
FAQ: Are there Cetaphil products that are paraben-free?
Lillo Osuna MA, et al. (2017). Methylparaben stimulates tumor initiating cells in ER+ breast cancer models.
Ngan V. (2002). Allergy to parabens.