Parabens – What’s the Problem?

As people become more and more aware of what goes onto and into their bodies, it seems like more and more harmful, negative or unnecessary ingredients are being discovered in the products we use every day. There is a fairly recent movement amongst consumers to rid their beauty routines of any harmful, toxic ingredients. This includes store-bought cosmetics and beauty products as well as professional spa and salon treatments and salon products. One ingredient that is getting a lot of attention is parabens.

Parabens are found in most mainstream, off-the-shelf beauty products and also in many foods that require preservatives for a longer shelf-life. In the beauty world, parabens are found in everything from foundation to eyeshadow to shampoo to facials and masks. Many spa and salon treatments like scrubs, wraps, facials and hair treatments will include products that traditionally contain parabens. Since parabens are antimicrobial chemicals, they are used in these store-bought or salon products these products to kill and prevent bacteria which would “spoil” the product or lessen its shelf-life, making it harder for suppliers to keep supplies up in cost-effective ways.

The problem with parabens is recently being discussed and studied amongst scientists who have found traces of parabens in breast cancer tumors. Parabens are very easily absorbed into the skin and can mimic estrogen. Estrogen is a hormone that has been linked to increased breast cancer risks. In some lab studies, young animals have shown adverse affects when exposed to certain types of parabens at birth, including reproductive and hormone issues. There are several different types of parabens that can be found in products including isobutylparaben methylparaben, , propylparaben, butylparaben and ethylparaben or any other ingredient that ends in “paraben.”

It has not been confirmed that parabens actually lead to breast cancer and the FDA has not put out a warning against these chemicals as of yet. However, this does not mean that they are absolutely safe. It just means that studies are still being done and no conclusive findings have been reported yet. The possible relationship between parabens and cancer is enough for most people to start purchasing paraben-free salon products and for some conscientious spa and salon establishments to offer paraben-free wraps, facials and other spa treatments. It is, as always, up to the consumer, however to be diligent in checking for unwanted toxins on the ingredient list of the products they use or purchase.

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