Lately the trend has been to purchase cosmetic and beauty products with only natural ingredients. Many of us end up spending a considerable amount of time in the health and beauty care aisles reading product labels before making a purchase. The biggest supposed offender and ingredient that has gotten a bad reputation in the cosmetic world is parabens. Parabens supposedly interfere with your hormones. They are associated with health risks such as breast cancer. But have you ever questioned the evidence for these claims? Are paraben-free beauty products really safer?
What are parabens?
Parabens are chemicals that you can find in food and cosmetic/beauty products. Parabens act as preservatives, giving these products a longer shelf life. Variations of this preservative include methylparaben and propylparaben. While they are safe for ingestion, some people are concerned about the adverse effects of applying them topically.
How parabens got a bad name
In 1998, a study published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology found parabens have estrogen-like qualities and can mimic that hormone. Then in 2004, the Journal of Applied Toxicology published a report that found parabens were present in 20 samples of human breast tumors. This, combined with the knowledge that some breast cancer tumors are estrogen-dependent, made people questioned the safety of parabens in our beauty products.
Some truth about parabens
The 2004 study has been criticized by the United States FDA for its small sample size. It did not provide enough evidence that parabens were the cause of the breast tumors. In 2008, a follow-up study found the topical application of beauty products containing parabens may increase the incidence of female breast cancer tissue. It is important to note there is not one study or published report that has definitively proven parabens are the direct cause of breast cancer or any other health problems. Still, some organizations encourage people to buy paraben-free when possible. However, many critics assert that this is another “gimmick” to get consumers to pay higher prices for products that have shorter life spans due to the void of parabens.
Should I buy paraben-free beauty products?
Based on the evidence, avoiding all products with parabens would be unnecessary. If you are still concerned about the potential for cancer or other health risks associated with paraben use, there is no harm in continuing to avoid it when possible. Women who have a history of estrogen-dependent cancers in their family may want to continue using paraben-free beauty products. Paraben-free cosmetics are becoming more popular and you can also find them on our Clear Essence website. See below just a few of Clear Essence products without paraben ingredients: