Parabens in cosmetics: do they really hurt?

They are antiseptics, they serve to preserve cosmetics from contamination by fungi and bacteria. But many of them are placed on the “black list” of hazardous substances. Here’s what they are.

Not only in the diet, the era of “free” products has also begun in the field of hygiene and beauty.

For example, without parabens, preservatives that are now under accusation of being potentially carcinogenic.

“Eternal” cosmetics

Present in almost all beauty products, from creams to cosmetics, from shampoos to deodorants, the function of parabens is to prevent the formation of fungi, bacteria and microorganisms in general and therefore to maintain their composition unaltered.

In practice, you could find on the bottom of the crocodile handbag inherited from your grandmother a turquoise eyeshadow still in perfect condition.

The dangers they hide

According to the Inci list (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) the parabens most harmful to health are:

  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Benzylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Isopropylparaben

Some studies have in fact highlighted the relationship between some of these preservatives and the development of breast cancer, as well as hypothesizing the possibility that parabens are also responsible for the increase in infertility and erectile dysfunction.

The reason? These are substances that interfere with the hormonal system, especially with the activity of estrogens.

Not only that, even some forms of contact dermatitis, in sensitive subjects, are attributable to these endocrine disruptors.

New limits for Europe

Recently, its use has been banned in Europe; However, of some, it has only been decided to restrict the permitted quantities.

This is the case of Methylparaben, present above all in cosmetics, shampoos and soaps, and Ethylparaben. At current concentrations, i.e. 0.4% when used alone or 0.8% when used with other substances, they are considered safe.

Not so for Propylparaben and Butylparaben, prohibited in non-rinseable products (wipes, creams, lotions) intended for children under 3 years and to be used in the diaper area.

The data published in Environmental Health Perspectives relating to research carried out by the University of Berkeley in collaboration with the California Breast Cancer Research Program, however, highlight the potential danger of parabens even in small doses.

When in doubt, better to avoid them

The zero comma something is really nothing, but if you add up all the something of eyeshadow, blush, mascara, shower gel, intimate cleanser, soap, deodorant, anti-wrinkle anti-wrinkle creams etc. that we use daily, what result is obtained?

In addition, some preserved foods, for example fruit juices and jams, and medications also contain parabens.

So what? Is choosing only “paraben free” products the solution? Better to do beauty shopping with the INCI list always updated.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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