What Are Parabens & Why Should You Avoid Them?

September 14, 2020

What Are Parabens & Why Should You Avoid Them?

By: Jacquetta Szathmari

A PRIMER ON PARABEN FREE

Everyone is talking about parabens these days. And while many folks aren't sure what they are, they sure as sugar don't want them in their health and beauty routine. Ongoing research is reviewing connections between chronic paraben exposure and negative health outcomes, but before you start emptying out your medicine cabinet, let's get a few things straight, shall we?


What are parabens? 

The word paraben describes a diverse group of synthetic chemical preservatives added to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and processed foods, to inhibit bacterial growth and improve stability. Parabens keep the ingredients in some of your favorite health, beauty and food products from separating and they also extend shelf life. Typically, the longer a product lasts, the more preservatives and antimicrobials it is likely to contain. These may be natural in the case of essential oils and organic extracts, or they can be made in the lab, such as formaldehyde, acids, ethanols, and our friend, the paraben.  

 

How do parabens enter the body? 

Parabens enter the body through the skin, where they can accumulate and circulate through the endocrine system. The absorption rate is affected by both the condition of the skin and the application process. Parabens enter more easily where the skin is most delicate, such as around the eyes, underarms, breasts, and other more intimate areas. Dermal absorption is aided by cleansers and lotions which are formulated to soften skin, thereby opening the door for parabens to waltz right in. Massage products can provide easy access as well, since warmth generated by the massage increases the rate at which the skin can absorb and retain parabens.  Parabens can also slip in with the help of abrasive products such as scrubs, waxes and depilatory creams.  

 

Are parabens harmful? 

It depends on whom you ask. The word on the scientific street is that daily exposure to small doses of parabens poses no significant health threat.  However, daily exposure can become chronic quite easily!  It's really a question of how many paraben-containing products you use and how often you use them. 

Studies show that the average cosmetic user has nine products in his/her daily regimen, with many of them containing parabens.  But since most folks aren't educated on the ins and outs of parabens, they are unable to limit themselves to the recommended dosage. And to complicate matters, there are no long-term comprehensive studies on the effects of chronic paraben exposure, or generally accepted metrics for assessing how much exposure is harmful.  But since we're talking about cosmetic products, many consider that it is better to err on the side of caution and eliminate paraben exposure where possible.  

 

What are the effects of parabens in the body?  

Again, the science is still coming in, but research papers published on the effects of paraben exposure suggest that parabens can disrupt endocrine functions and may have estrogenic effects.  We're talking about your largest organ and some other very important organs - so why take chances?

More specifically, research proposes links between excessive quantities of parabens absorbed through the skin and breast cancer, tumor development, obesity, and gestational diabetes.  Parabens may also weaken the skin's ability to shield UVB radiation and may decrease collagen production thus reducing moisture retention and promoting aging

So, yeah. Our advice? Go paraben free. Do it for your health. Do it yesterday!  We already have! Our entire Sexual Wellness and Body Care Collections are completely paraben free (and vegan to boot)!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Jacquetta Szathmari, Dernier Mile
Jacquetta Szathmari is a New York based writer and the founder of Dernier Mile, a boutique consultancy providing last minute and last mile solutions for your content-intensive, logistically complex, and totally unique creative projects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES: 
Review of the safety of application of cosmetic products containing parabens. Matwiejczuk, Natalia; Galicka, Anna; Brzoska, Malgorzata; Journal of Applied Toxicology, January 2020, Vol 40(1), pp 176-210.
Phthalates, bisphenols, parabens, and triclocarban in feminine hygiene products from the United States and their implications for human exposure.Gao, Chong-Jin; Kannan, Kurunthachalam. Environment International, March 2020, Vol. 136.





Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Your Body, Your Pleasure.

Beyond “The Pill”
Beyond “The Pill”

September 14, 2022

Are you thinking about getting or changing your birth control? Do you need to take control of your reproductive health? Girl, you have options!

When it comes to prescription contraceptives there is so much more than “The Pill”.

View full article →

Get a Grip on Kegel Exercises
Get a Grip on Kegel Exercises

July 29, 2022

Kegels! Everyone is talking about them, but how do you them, and why are they so important to sexual health and well-being?

Simply put, Kegel exercises keep your pelvic floor strong. Also called pelvic floor exercises, Kegels are the rhythmic tightening, holding, and releasing of the pelvic muscles to strengthen the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a flat band of muscle and tissue that extends from the front of the pelvis to the back and has openings for the anus, vagina, and urethra, and both men and women have them.

View full article →

Healthy Mind, Happy Woman
Healthy Mind, Happy Woman

June 07, 2022

Time to check in. How is your mental health these days?

While approximately 20% of Americans will confront a mental health issue in any given year, a closer look at the statistics reveal that women’s mental health challenges are different.

View full article →