Parabens: Are They Really Dangerous?
Due to their low cost and effectiveness, parabens have been the most widely used preservatives in personal care products since the 1950s, but their reputation over the last couple of decades as safe ingredients (in everything from cosmetics and shampoos to foods and pharmaceuticals) is a hotly debated topic among the scientific community, skincare companies, and consumers.
So, what exactly are parabens?
Parabens are synthetically made chemicals used to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes—the most commonly used variations are known as butylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, and propylparaben. Skincare products typically contain more than one type of paraben, and they often use these in combination with other chemical preservatives to keep away microbial growth.
Why Parabens May Be Unhealthy
Many people are understandably concerned about the potentially harmful side effects of putting parabens on their skin. Much of the controversy began with a study that found parabens in samples of cancerous breast tumors, leading to concerns that parabens may play a role in the development of breast cancer—especially when paraben-containing products are applied to skin near and on the breast, as in deodorants.
Since that first groundbreaking study, parabens have been detected in human tissue and skin samples, as well as in bodily fluids like urine and breast milk. As well, research shows that parabens administered at high doses over a short period of time in the lab can cause DNA damage, and can disrupt the endocrine system.
What is the alternative to using parabens? Several substitutes for parabens do exist, such as phenoxyethanol, an effective antibacterial found naturally in green tea—but usually produced synthetically for use in personal care products. Other safer paraben alternatives, like potassium sorbate and sorbic acid, are gaining popularity. Depending on the product, a combination of two or more of these can be an effective alternative to parabens.
The Bottom Line
Parabens are effective at killing harmful bacteria in personal care products. However, their ability to damage DNA and work as estrogen disrupters is troubling, especially for populations at high risk—like pregnant women and children.
Reading labels is the key to avoiding parabens in all your skin care products. Stay away from any ingredients with paraben in the name, and look for the phrases, “paraben free” or “no parabens” on anything you plan to put on or in your body.
The good news is that you do have a choice when it comes to your skincare. At Valentia, we know that what you put on your skin affects your whole body; that’s why we’ve created products free from any synthetic preservatives, like parabens. And you can rest assured that our products will never contain sulfates, phthalates, artificial colors and fragrances, formaldehyde, or any other additives that can harm you or your family—just clean, natural, honest ingredients from the earth.