Most of us are pretty aware that the largest organ is our skin. People, especially moms, want to know about the products they're using and it's good to be informed. It's even better when you can make natural, healthy decisions to protect your body. There's been quite a bit of buzz about parabens over the past few years, yet a lot of people aren't very familiar with exactly what they are, and the impact parabens can potentially have on our bodies.
What are Parabens?
A paraben is a type of preservative that's similar to estrogen and has the ability to preserve products, giving them a longer shelf life. They reside in everything from shampoo to food additives to makeup and sunscreen. The FDA states, "Typically, more than one paraben is used in a product, and they are often used in combination with other types of preservatives to provide preservation against a broad range of microorganisms." Although low doses of the preservative are administered, there's a bit of debate within the medical community as to whether or not parabens pose a safety hazard to people.
Should I Avoid Parabens?
Data is inconclusive as to whether or not parabens are unsafe. Mercola writes that the wariness of parabens started a few years ago after traces of paraben was found in the breast tissue of cancer patients. Breast cancer grows from estrogen and paraben is a substance that is like estrogen. The official FDA stance is that parabens typically used at levels between 0.01% and 0.3% and have been deemed safe in cosmetics at levels as high as 25%. However, the FDA continues to evaluate the chemicals in cosmetics and beauty products (note that parabens are already regulated in food and beverages).
Still, other experts believe that the science and potential risks of the hormone-disrupting properties of parabens support taking steps to limit parabens. In 2014, the European Commission took steps to greatly reduce the permissible concentration of parabens in cosmetics, and also to eliminate them entirely from certain baby products.
Beauty companies and consumers are responding. Big companies (like Revlon) and small companies alike are creating products that are paraben free to respond to these uncertainties. Stacy, founder of feminine care product line Healthy Hoohoos, told Ecocentric Mom, "While they (parabens) do a great job at preventing the spoiling of our products and keep them free of bacteria, I think it’s the daily layering and slathering of products containing parabens that's the issue. A few products may be fine, but the average woman applies 12 products a day and the cumulative effect is what personally worries me."
3 Ways to Stay Away from Parabens
Since the potential risks of parabens are centered around women's health, we believe discovering paraben-free products is essential to our moms' health. Though you can't always avoid parabens, becoming an educated and conscious consumer that makes healthy choices for yourself and your family is a great first step.
Do the Research
The first step would be to consult the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database to see whether the products you regularly use and love contain parabens and other potentially harmful ingredients. There you can enter the brand and product you want to learn about and see how it scores.
Read the Label
You can also become an educated consumer by reading ingredient labels on your products. You can recognize the inclusion of parabens in your products by looking for the word on the ingredients in the label: propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, etc.
Discover Healthier Alternatives
Countless options are available for families and individuals who decide to go paraben free...if you know where to look. Commonly, these aren't the products you will find at your local big-box store. Ecocentric Mom's product discover team is focused on unearthing the best natural brands for our subscribers. We believe women of childbearing age are particularly at risk to the potential harmful effects and it just doesn't make sense to take unnecessary risks with our health when there are wonderful alternatives available - if you look hard enough.
Our November Boxes feature some awesome paraben free products from Healthy Hoohoos, Angel Face Botanicals, PureFactory Naturals, and more. While you may not be able to avoid parabens completely, explore what you can use instead that is paraben free and economically friendly. It's a proactive way to protect you and your family, plus you will be introduced to some amazing products in the process.
Do you avoid parabens? Which paraben-free products do you love? Tell us in the comments!
Want to find out more about some of the natural, organic and paraben-free products in our Ecocentric Mom boxes? Check out some of our past boxes.