Following on from the our post on parabens, which you can find here, I wanted to post another update, specifically on how to find out if your favourite cosmetic products contain parabens and what you can do to avoid them.
Why are they added to your cosmetics?
As we discussed, parabens are frequently added to cosmetics to prevent the growth of bacteria. They have been in use since the 1950s and the vast majority of cosmetics use a combination of them, because they are cheap and effective. The ones to be aware of are methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben.
New York City dermatologist Fran E. Cook-Bolden is quoted as saying, “Parabens have a long history of safe use, and that’s why they’re commonplace. New preservatives have less of a proven track record.”
The previous post explains that the problem with parabens has been identified because they are xenoestrogens, i.e. they mimic oestrogen in the body. This has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues, including early onset of puberty and reduced sperm count. It appears that parabens can be stored in the body, resulting in a cumulative effect that can damage health over time. Research been found to link them to cancerous cells, but does not compare results with levels of parabens in noncancerous cells.
So while there is currently no scientific evidence to confirm that parabens directly cause cancer, it is right to be mindful. Many products are emerging that are paraben-free, so it is possible to avoid them if you are concerned.
What are the alternatives?
It is safe to say that almost all products that are not specifically labelled at paraben free are likely to contain parabens. You can use oil based organic products, which do not need a preservative like water based cosmetics. These are usually sold in dark, pump containers which keep them protected from air and light.
Brands that are proudly paraben free include the following:
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