Health Benefits of Using Paraben Free Makeup and Skin Care Products?
What Are Parabens?
Natural skincare is very popular these days and there is also lot of talk about parabens and the benefits of using paraben free makeup and skin care products. So what is a paraben and why would you want to avoid putting anything with parabens in it on your skin?
They are derived from benzoic acid, which is a chemical that is commonly found in plants. They are also permitted to be used as a preservative in food. They are put into cosmetics and skin care products because they are very good preservatives, and greatly extend the shelf-life of the products that they are used in.
Parabens and their salts are also valued by cosmetic and skin care product manufacturers as preservatives because they have effective fungicidal and bacterial properties, and are also fairly inexpensive.
Parabens have been used in beauty products for over fifty years, have been thoroughly researched, and have been regarded as a reasonably safe ingredient to add to skin care products and cosmetics. However, over recent years, concerns have grown over the safety of using them on your skin and questions have been raised as to what dangers they pose to your health.
Do you choose paraben free makeup and toiletries?
Why Do We Need Preservatives in Cosmetics and Skin Care Products?
So why do we have to have preservatives in skin care products and cosmetics at all, especially if we are using organic, pure and natural beauty products?
Unfortunately, however pure and natural the product is, it still has to last long enough to get from the manufacturers, to the distributors and then to the shop and be able sit on the shelf for a certain length of time before it is bought before it goes off and spoils.
Some of the bacteria, fungus and moulds that could grow in your skin care products if there were no preservatives in them are pretty nasty, and you may not necessarily notice that there was anything wrong with your face cream or make up remover before you applied it to your skin.
Refrigeration is an alternative to adding preservatives to beauty products, but it still might not guarantee a long enough shelf life and not everyone wants the inconvenience of have to keep their face creams and cosmetics in the fridge.
Dangers of Parabens?
So what is thought to be so nasty and dangerous about parabens? This is a controversial area, as they have been used for a long time and are generally well tolerated on the skin, very rarely causing mild skin reactions like rashes.
There have been many rumours doing the rounds, especially on the internet, that they can contribute to the development of cancer.
One of the most well-known of these is that using anti-perspirants can increase the risk of developing breast cancer, because underarm shaving allows chemicals like parabens to be absorbed into the lymph nodes by the small cuts caused by the razor.
This has been largely refuted by the American Cancer Society, who say that there is no hard scientific evidence to support this claim and that research has shown no links between anti-perspirant use and increased breast cancer risk.
However, researchers in the United Kingdom have found traces of parabens in samples of breast tumours that have been removed and this demonstrates that they can accumulate in our bodies and have raised the flag that the risks of using them in skin care products and toiletries should probably be reassessed.
One of the reasons that they became linked with increased breast cancer risk is that they are said to mimic the actions of the hormone oestrogen, which is a hormone that promotes cell growth.
Parabens and Oestrogen
The build up of oestrogen in our environment is said by some scientists to be partly responsible for the reductions of sperm counts and the increases of male reproductive disorders in the last fifty or so years. Also that using toiletries containing parabens could be contributing towards the ‘feminising’ of men.
Researchers have also reported that chemicals like parabens could be absorbed through the skin of pregnant women and then adversely affect the development of male foetuses in the womb. The conclusions of the research were that although parabens are a lot less potent than oestrogens produced in the body, they are still ‘oestrogenic’ and their safety should be reassessed because of this ability that they have to mimic the actions of oestrogen.
Any Natural Alternatives to Parabens?
So are there any more natural alternatives to using parabens in skin care products and cosmetics? One of the natural alternatives that is used in some beauty products is grapefruit seed extract (GSE). Grapefruit seed extract is claimed to be a natural antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal and is also used as a health food supplement.
There are, however, conflicting claims as to how efficacious grapefruit seed extract is as an antimicrobial and preservative in skin care products. Another alternative preservative that is beginning to be used in skin care and beauty products, especially those that claim to be pure and natural, is Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, which is a chemical that is derived from an amino acid called glycine that occurs naturally.
However, the glycine has to be put through a highly synthetic industrial process to create the Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, and the end result is actually regarded as a skin and eye irritant. Because of this, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate tends to be used in cosmetics and skin care products at very low concentrations to try to avoid the negative effects of irritating the skin, which lowers its efficacy as a preservative and it also has an unpleasant smell that leads to the addition of masking agents (more chemicals) to the products.
Do You Think That Parabens Are Safe?
So do you think that is safe to use toiletries or beauty products on your skin that contain parabens? If there is a health risk, however small, then it would seem sensible to try and avoid them wherever possible.
Also, it is worthwhile bearing in mind that toiletries such as anti-perspirants and deodorants that you put on your skin and leave there are more likely to let your body absorb any chemicals than products such as face wash that you lather on and then rinse off pretty quickly.
At lot of the concern that people feel is for their children, and whether or not using products containing parabens is going to have a detrimental effect on their development in any way. Again, where toiletries, such as sunscreen, are left on children’s skin to be absorbed, it may pay to err on the side of caution and find a paraben-free alternative.
Where To Find Paraben Free Products
You can find paraben free makeup and skin care product in major retailers, health food shops and beauty salons. However, one of the easiest ways to shop for your paraben-free products is to buy them online.
Amazon has a wide range of paraben free cosmetics and skin care products to choose from including sunscreens, moisturizing lotions, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner and hair styling products. Everything you could possibly need for your beauty routine and family’s toiletry needs can be bought paraben free online.
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Disclaimer: Please be aware that any information given in this article should in no way be used to replace advice given to you by your medical practitioner or health professional.
Paraben chemical composition image - Wikimedia Commons Public Domain - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paraben.PNG