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partyrock's avatar

Is there any truth to 'Parabens' used in many products?

Asked by partyrock (3865 points ) August 15th, 2012

I’ve been hearing lately that parabens are not good for us. They’re used in many (almost all, at least drug stores) products, cosmetics, shampoos, body wash etc. I was reading an article where it said that parabens can interfere with hormones and estrogen. That parabens can go through the skin. I’m not one to believe things right away, I did research, and it seems this topic is very debated. Does anyone know anything about it? Is it really better to use products without parabens? What do you think?

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6 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ve come across articles that say don’t worry, and others where the parabens were found in breast tumors. I think that one was methyl parabens. They’re a perservative, so obviously they’re toxic to some organisms. If I’m in doubt about the safety of something I stay away from anything with it in them.

cazzie's avatar

I do cosmetic formulation. There are alternatives out there, but they are not frequently used. At the moment, the formulation bible tells me that the parabens that are specifically used in cosmetics are better than the bacteria and mould that would develop in the products if they weren’t included in the formulas. I think the sheer volume of them being used isn’t good, but the commercial companies love them because they are cheap, effective and allowed. Some types have been banned in their use as flame retardant (methylparabens) materials due to their toxicity, but if you own old furniture, you are probably sitting on and absorbing the crap through your skin that way.

There ARE alternatives. You do not have to buy moisturisers and leave on products with parabens.

In the US, formulations are not as restricted as they are here in the EU. For example. formaldehyde based preservatives and boric acid are both permissible in products for children in the US. Talc is permissible everywhere (not a product I would ever use after the reading I have done.) The idea is to be an informed consumer. There is a product on the market for formulators that goes by the trade name of Optiphen. It is paraben and formaldehyde free and the ONLY preservative I would put in a leave on product.

Really, when these studies come out, they don’t know if it is a chicken and the egg sort of scenario. Does the build-up of chemical come from the condition or does the chemical accumulate and cause the condition? I have said this over and over again on this forum when questions like this come up, in a normal, healthy adult, we are able to metabolise or simply excrete waste products, but there are those of us with sensitivities, allergies or compromised immune systems that need to be more aware of what we eat and put on our skin.

Look for Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Sorbic Acid instead of the *something*paraben. If there is a paraben in it, check that it is propylparaben (closer to the naturally occurring type of paraben in plants) and avoid methylparaben.

And DO remember that these are ALSO in food, under the E numbers. Look them up if you want to avoid them both in food and in your personal products.

Atrazine (a widely used agricultural chemical that has been banned Europe but allowed in the US) and PBAs (an additive to plastics to make them soft that is banned for use in baby/children’s products in the EU but allowed in the US) also effect hormone change.

Oh… I was just looking for some good info to link to and found a good TED talk. Here:
http://www.ted.com/talks/tyrone_hayes_penelope_jagessar_chaffer_the_toxic_baby.html

cazzie's avatar

EDIT: the TED talk brings up the context of parabens and other chemicals in the larger context of their end result on the environment, and NOT just on us humans using the products. I think this is good to remember as individual consumers, that the chemicals we use don’t just get used on us as purchasers and users, but what we wash down the drain ends up in our water supply, food chain and wildlife. There are over 7 billion of us and we have to remember that when we throw something ‘away’, there really is no ‘away’.

gailcalled's avatar

I wouldn’t touch any commercial beauty products.

The Health Food store carries lovely shampoo, conditioners, body lotion and oil, sun block, tinted lip balm and various kinds of make-up (which I do not wear.)

hearkat's avatar

I find that Drugstore.com has a wide variety of natural health and beauty products. I’m loving this DermOrganic shampoo and conditioner I found on that site. Expensive, but vegan and my hair is so silky.

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