If you regularly shop for products like shampoo, conditioner, soap, or skincare items, you’ve certainly encountered the term “paraben-free.” Strolling down the health and beauty aisle in nearly any drugstore, you’ll see this term proudly displayed on countless containers. Indeed, most of us are at least familiar with this common phrase.
But have you ever wondered what “paraben-free” actually means?
Over the course of this past decade, the term has cropped everywhere. As such, one may ask: is it simply a marketing buzzword, intended to increase sales by capitalizing on a trend? Does “paraben-free” actually carry any weight?
In short, the answer is yes. Though the term has grown into a buzzword of sorts, that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it entirely. In fact, parabens can be quite harmful, and there are plenty of reasons to commit to going paraben-free.
Continue reading as we delve into the facts about parabens and all the reasons we don’t use them in our products.
What Are Parabens?
In order to understand why paraben-free products are the right choice, you’ll need some information about parabens themselves. So, let’s begin with the basics: what are parabens, exactly?
Basically, parabens are a group of chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in products like shampoo, conditioner, soap, and anything skincare-related. They’re also found as preservatives in some foods and beverages.
Health and beauty companies have been adding parabens to their products since the 1920s. For many decades, these chemicals were widely accepted and used.
Parabens are an effective artificial preservative—they lengthen the shelf-life of their host product by fighting off bacteria and mold.
For many years, the harmful side-effects of parabens went largely unknown or unacknowledged by brands and consumers alike. However, in the past decade, the world has begun to realize that using these chemicals may have a variety of damaging consequences.
Hence, the paraben-free movement was set into motion. Today, health and beauty brands across the spectrum have decided to eliminate these chemicals, opting for alternative ingredients instead.
There is no denying that the paraben-free trend has taken the industry by storm. Now, let’s explore the ramifications of paraben use that sparked this widespread anti-paraben sentiment.
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The Problem With Parabens
OK, so what is so bad about parabens? How concerned should you be about these chemicals?
Well, several scientific studies have reported that parabens may produce adverse health effects. These are the most common health problems associated with parabens:
Parabens May Disrupt the Reproductive System
This is because these chemicals are able to mimic the hormone estrogen, often known as the “female” hormone (though it is found in both men and women). Estrogen plays a major role in regulating the reproductive functioning and development of both sexes, fertility, birth outcomes, and the production of hormones.
Because parabens can behave like estrogen in the body, they may disrupt or interfere with these hormone systems.
Certain scientific studies have shown links between paraben levels in the urine and issues like decreased fertility, increased likelihood of preterm birth, and decreased birth weight in newborns.
This connection to reproductive health is one of the most compelling reasons to avoid parabens.
Parabens May Contribute to a Higher Risk of Cancer
More specifically, parabens might increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
One study from 2014 found that propylparaben, a common type of paraben, has the ability to affect the expression of genes. In doing so, this chemical may expedite the growth of breast cancer cells.
Similarly, in 2016, a research study determined that butylparaben (another paraben type) contributed to breast cancer in women by switching on cancer genes and escalating the growth of breast cancer cells.
Though there is still plenty of research to be done about parabens, many scientists have exhibited concern about the link between parabens and cancer.
Parabens Cause Allergic Reactions in Some People
Of all the health effects of parabens, this one is the easiest to spot. For some people, using products with parabens on the skin causes redness, irritation, itchiness, flaking, and even hives.
Over time, your skin may grow sensitive to parabens in your skincare products. If you often notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, you may want to switch to paraben-free products and see if it makes any difference.
Finally, Parabens Hurt the Environment
There is still much to learn about the ecological impact of parabens, but several studies have provided reasons to be concerned.
For example, butylparaben has the potential to kill coral, even at low levels. Because parabens are so widely used in so many products, they have been found in water, fish, and sediments. The presence of parabens in the ocean may be causing harm to its ecosystem.
Though researchers are still exploring the environmental consequences of these chemicals, it is clear that they are causing some degree of damage.
So, if you’re passionate about living an eco-friendly life, you may want to consider avoiding any items that contain parabens. Just as switching to cruelty-free and vegan products benefits the planet in countless ways, so does committing to the paraben-free life.
As you can see, parabens aren’t great—they’re detrimental to our bodies and to our environment. That is why so many companies have chosen to eliminate parabens.
Here at Gleamin, we are dedicated to avoiding the use of parabens in all our products. Though parabens are a useful preservative, we believe that using these chemicals is not worth the risk of damaging your health and the planet.
How to Deal With Parabens in Everyday Life
If you’ve made it this far, you might be panicking by now. Even though there are plenty of paraben-free products on the shelves, these chemicals are so ubiquitous that it may seem impossible to avoid them.
Just take a deep breath—there’s no need to stress too much. If you find yourself dealing with growing paraben-anxiety, take a look at our tips on how to cope.
Start with the products that you use most often, like shampoo, conditioner, and face wash. If your current items contain parabens, do a little research to find an equivalent paraben-free alternative.
Fortunately, since so many brands have decided to go paraben-free, it’s easy to find a variety of high-quality products that get the job done without those harmful chemicals. For example, our Vitamin C Clay Mask is totally paraben-free—you won’t even notice they’re gone.
However, do keep in mind that most products contain a generally small percentage of parabens. So, if you occasionally use certain products containing parabens, you’ll be just fine. At the end of the day, a little paraben use won’t kill you.
If you can, just try to monitor how much you expose yourself to these chemicals. Luckily, as popular brands continue to outlaw parabens, the amount of parabens in products is decreasing on its own.
That’s a Wrap on Parabens
Parabens have been widely used since the 1920s. Only in recent years have we begun to study and understand the long-term effects of paraben use. The good news is that more and more companies have eliminated parabens from their products, and avoiding these chemicals is getting easier.
Here at Gleamin, you can shop comfortably knowing that we, like many others, are completely paraben-free.
What Are Parabens, and Why Don’t They Belong in Cosmetics? | EWG
Signs and Symptoms of High Estrogen: Diagnosis, Treatment, and More | Healthline
Parabens, Explained - What Are Parabens And Why Should You Use Paraben-Free Makeup Products | Elle
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