So…What Are Parabens, Anyway?
At Real Purity, we specialize in making products sourced from natural, non-toxic ingredients, and we pride ourselves on the fact that natural also means paraben-free. But even though you’ve probably accepted long ago that you should avoid these irritating compounds, it still begs the question…what are parabens, anyway?
Parabens are a group of widely used compounds that are formed from acid and alcohol. Commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products, the ones seen most frequently include methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben.
The cosmetic industry began using parabens in the 1950s to prevent bacterial growth and to extend each products’ shelf life. Today, approximately 85% of cosmetic manufacturers still use parabens, because they are both effective and inexpensive. However, some recent evidence suggests that they are potentially unsafe. Users are particularly concerned that not enough research has been done to effectively determine whether these dangers are real, causing many to turn towards a paraben-free lifestyle.
The Dangers Inherent in Parabens
Parabens have been linked to a myriad of adverse effects, including irritation of the skin and the development of particular skin conditions like rosacea and dermatitis.
There is also a fear that parabens disrupt regular hormone production by mimicking estrogen in the human body, then leading to a higher risk of breast cancer. This effect was partially observed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) in groups of mice when exposed to very high doses in cell cultures, although the same result was not seen in other control groups. in 2004, another study also discovered parabens in malignant breast tumors, spawning the concern that the body could store them in a cumulative manner that could pose a real, long-term health risk. The CIR did not agree with this finding, but did see some effects on reproductive capabilities in their mice and rat control groups.
The number of paraben-free brands increases every day, so if you’re anxious to leave them out of your cosmetic and skin care routine, it should not be difficult for you to find new products. Before you cut parabens out entirely, however, remember that they play a significant role in preserving formulas and keeping them safe for you to use. If you do choose to go paraben-free in your lifestyle, make sure you look at brands that use plant-derived preservatives instead, rather than those that don’t use any at all.
At Real Purity, we pride ourselves on using non-toxic, non-irritating ingredients, but we still make sure that we use a sugar-based preservative (approved by the highest level of quality control at Whole Foods). To learn more about the ingredients we use, check out this list here.