Hidden Beauty Horrors - Parabens

Hidden Beauty Horrors - Parabens

At The Green Woman, we are on a mission to educate people about the hidden horrors in your everyday cosmetic and beauty products. Many are full of synthetic chemicals and potentially harmful ingredients that the majority of people don’t know about. One of these ingredients is parabens.

What are parabens?

Parabens were introduced in the 1920s and are a group of chemicals that are widely used as artificial preservatives in cosmetic and beauty products. They are added to prevent and reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and mould, increasing the shelf life of the product.

There are many different types of parabens, but the six most commonly used are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben. You will find paraben concentrations from around 0.3% to 1% within cosmetic products.

What effects can parabens have on your health?

There are several different health problems that have been linked and believed to be a result of paraben use. Here’s 5 of the most common:

    • Endocrine disruptor - The chemical structure of parabens is similar to the hormone oestrogen and has been linked to many issues such as; early puberty in girls, male breast growth, developmental and neurological disorders and various cancers.

    • Breast cancer - Parabens have also been found present in breast tissue - high concentrations mimic the actions of oestrogen and may be linked to an increase in breast cancer. For more information read the report by our partner Breast Cancer UK.

    • Reproductive problems – Parabens have been found in breast milk and placental tissue. It is believed that parabens may contribute to negative health effects in both mothers and their children, potentially leading to reproductive complications and a heightened risk of cancer in adults, as well as developmental issues in children.

    • Allergic reactions - Parabens can trigger irritation and allergic reactions in the skin, especially to sensitive, damaged, or broken skin. Studies show that parabens can be especially inflammatory to those with pre-existing conditions of psoriasis, eczema, or a pattern of contact dermatitis.

    • Quick absorption - A 2006 American study showed that parabens are absorbed very quickly through unbroken skin, meaning the chemicals are also absorbed into the body fast.

Where are parabens commonly found?

    • Shampoos

    • Conditioners

    • Deodorants

    • Facial moisturisers

    • Body lotions

    • Foundation

    • Mascaras

    • Toners

    • Blush

    • Toothpaste

    • Within food and drinks.

How can you avoid parabens?

We encourage people to educate themselves on the ingredients of their favourite cosmetic and beauty products. Read the labels very carefully, and research each ingredient that is artificial and chemical based. If something has a long shelf life, this would be a strong indicator that it contains parabens. Only you can decide if you are still happy to use the products, once you are well informed about the potential health risks.

You can avoid parabens, and other harmful ingredients, by choosing to use 100% natural, organic beauty products. Paraben-free products often use ingredients that are naturally antibacterial or antimicrobial, for example coconut oil or they may use natural preservatives such as:

    • Grapefruit seed extract

    • Salicylic acid

    • Sorbic acid

    • Benzyl alcohol

Parabens and the environment

Not only are parabens harmful to our health, but they can also be harmful to the environment. Studies have shown that parabens have been found in urban streams, rivers and drinking water sources due to their widespread and frequent use. The majority of households could be using parabens every single day within realising it.

A safer alternative

By checking ingredients carefully and choosing natural, organic skin and bodycare products like The Green Woman’s, not only are you taking care of your own health, but that of the planet too.

Ready to learn more?

Our blog Chemical To Avoid covers other harmful synthetic chemicals to look out for and where to find them.