American women absorb around 170 different chemicals every day through the products they apply to their skin and hair. In the past couple of decades, many health-conscious consumers and the scientific community have begun questioning the safety of these substances.
Parabens are a family of chemicals that are receiving a lot of this scrutiny. You’ve probably noticed personal care products labeled “paraben free”. So, even if you don’t know exactly what they are, you know many people believe they are dangerous. Should you quit using products with parabens? Or are the warnings overblown? Let’s look at the facts.
What Are Parabens?
Parabens are synthetic preservatives that have been widely used since the 1950’s. They are added to products to prevent bacteria and mold growth. Personal care products with a paraben preservative can last up to a year or more.
Parabens can be found in foods, medications, household cleaners, cosmetics, soaps, and shampoos. In other words, they are everywhere. We come in contact with them continually. Because they are so widespread, seemingly small amounts combine to pose a clear and present danger to our health.
There are several types of parabens including methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben.
How Do Parabens Affect My Body?
Parabens are absorbed into your body when you use a product that contains them—whether or not the product is intended to be ingested. This has been confirmed in numerous studies. They are especially risky for women because they simulate estrogen, the hormone that regulates the processes that make a female a female. This includes the physical differentiation that happens as a female infant grows into a woman. It also controls the reproductive cycle from puberty throughout childbearing years and menopause. Because estrogen is continually directing various tissues to perform specific functions, when there is an imbalance due to a synthetic endocrine disruptor such as parabens, it causes serious and sometimes irreversible problems.
We don’t know the full extent of health damage these chemicals have caused, but what we do know is pretty grim. For example, we know that American girls are going through puberty at younger and younger ages each generation. Early puberty increases the risk of many health problems including cancer, mental health conditions, and obesity. You can learn more in this article that was published just last week. https://www.inverse.com/article/51422-parabens-early-puberty-girls-study
What Health Risks Are Linked to Parabens?
Many studies suggest that paraben-induced endocrine disruption increases the risk of breast cancer, premature aging, learning disabilities, and reproductive problems. The most recent research suggests that parabens are dangerous in much smaller quantities than previously believed.
Just because parabens disrupt the function of the female sex hormone, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a risk to men. Parabens are linked to low testosterone levels, low sperm counts, and sperm dysfunction.
Most of us have been using products with parabens our whole life. It is impossible to know if the parabens that have built up in our tissues have played a role in our health problems. We have also absorbed many other toxins that have interacted with them, further clouding the issue. Now that you know the danger, however, do you really want to keep taking chances with your health?
“We are all playing Russian roulette with toxic-laden cosmetics and personal-care products that we apply to our skin, and to the skin of our infants and children, every day,” -Toxic Beauty author Samuel S. Epstein, MD.
If you want to eliminate parabens, read labels before purchasing products. Seek out ethical companies that use pure, botanical formulas free of harmful chemicals. I am continually surprised when I read labels from popular moisturizer and skin care products that are supposed “dermatologist recommended” and see the levels of parabens included. So even though the swing is away from these ingredients they are still very prevalent and you need to watch for them.
Australiana Botanicals was created to offer safe, toxin-free skin care at the luxury level. For more information, read our ingredients policy (https://www.australianaskin.com/pages/ingredients-list) and Why We Are Different page on our web site. https://www.australianaskin.com/pages/why-is-australiana-unique-and-different.