Here is the deal, most cosmetic ads are bragging about being paraben free. And, let’s be honest most of us are like, “YES! That is super great…” But in the far corners of our minds we are thinking, “Why does that matter again?” For me, the only thing I knew about parabens was that was a direct link between them and breast cancer. So I knew that were bad news but I didn’t fully understand why, I simply went along with it. Avoid, parabens, ok got it, now what?
It wasn’t until I started getting into Arbonne that I started to dive further into the ingredients that our in cosmetic products. What I found disturbed me and I felt like it would be a good idea to share my finding with you, my loyal readers, why parabens are bad, and why we don’t want them in our personal care products.
So without further ado…
What is a paraben anyways?
- Parabens are synthetic chemicals that are used as preservatives, and used in a wide variety of products, such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food. As preservatives, parabens give products a longer shelf-life and prevent harmful bacteria and mold from growing in the products.
- “Parabens are derived from a chemical known as para-hydroxybenzoic acid (PHBA) that occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, like blueberries and carrots,” said Kathryn St. John, the communications director at the American Chemistry Council. “PHBA is also naturally formed in the human body by the breakdown of some amino acids. The parabens that are manufactured for consumables and personal care products are identical to those found in nature. The most common types of parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben and isobutylparaben.” -Live Science
Ok, if it occurs naturally, then why is it bad?
- Parabens are MAN-MADE chemicals often used in small amounts as preservatives in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, foods, and beverages. Yes, they occur naturally but it does not mean that they are natural, which is why it is man-made to replicate what occurs naturally. Let’s not get confused here.
- Because the preservative is found in a wide variety of foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other personal care products, paraben exposure occurs when these products are swallowed or absorbed through the skin, according to the CDC.
- The FDA requires ALL PERSONAL CARE products to be labeled with a list of ingredients so consumers can see what’s in the product and decide if they wish to use it. COSMETIC MANUFACTURERS ARN’T required to obtain FDA approval for developing, marketing or selling products to consumers. How disturbing is that? Need to read it again? Ok.
Now that you have read it again, let me ask again, how disturbing is that? I am sure that the FDA will pull harmful products off the market once they are proven dangerous but what does that mean for us? It means that cosmetic manufacturers can put whatever ingredients they want into your lipsticks, foundations, mascara, eye liner, etc. and you may be the lucky recipient of a harmful or dangerous product. So I guess the upside to this is that you may win a multimillion dollar law suit, the downside could be that your health, skin, hair, lips, etc. could be damaged premaritally. Lovely. I guess we win some and we loose some right? (Yikes.)
Dr. Chesahna Kindred, a dermatologist at Howard University in Washington, D.C says, “Since 90 percent of common items found in grocery stores contain parabens, the concentration in our bloodstream adds up.”
What is it all adding up too?
Well, parabens are thought to be endocrine-disrupting chemicals, also known as hormone-mimicking chemicals. That means the body may treat the paraben like a hormone. Wait what? Let me give you an example, parabens have been found in breast cancer cells, which indicates that parabens may act like estrogen. Scientists conducted studies on rats (sad) and have concluded that parabens ARE endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which means parabens could cause breast cancer.
“Of greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity,” reports the non-profit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC). “Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells.” Research has shown that the perceived influx of estrogen beyond normal levels can in some cases trigger reactions such as increasing breast cell division and the growth of tumors.” -Scientific American
From what I read these rats were exposed to higher amounts or parabens then the average person would consume, supposedly. I have to wonder about that though. For example, before I started to make self-care a priority, before Arbonne, before my mom had breast cancer, I was putting Cetaphil (which side note is lotion loaded with parabens) on my skin multiple times a day. Not only that but I was putting it on my daughter multiple times a day. So I have to wonder, if I hadn’t stopped putting the synthetic chemical on my daughter would she have a higher risk of cancer later. Because isn’t that enough exposure, if you think about the amount she would have had over all her life span. And that, of course, is only one source of the synthetic chemical, add in the other ways it can be absorbed into your blood stream, God only knows what would happen.
What worries public health advocates is that while individual products may contain limited amounts of parabens within safe limits set by the FDA, exposure to the chemicals from several different products could be overloading our bodies and contributing to a wide range of health problems.
The good news?
“Many natural and organic cosmetics manufacturers have found effective alternatives to parabens to prevent microbial growth in personal care products,” says CSC. “Some companies have created preservative-free products that have shorter shelf lives than conventional products (six months to a year), but if used daily are likely to be used up before they expire.”
So the question is, do you risk it? Even though more studies need to be done, to know beyond a shadow of a doubt?
Now, let’s move directions. if parabens are bad for you humans does that make them bad for the environment? Yes.
A scientific study reported that parabens have been found for the first time in the bodies of marine mammals! Researchers also believe that it is likely these parabens come from products we use that are washed into the sewage system and released into the environment.
Lovely, so now we are causing breast cancer and killing off marine life one paraben product at a time. Ok, that isn’t scientifically proven BUT that IS what it sounds like to me, personally.
What products contain parabens?
- Please note that when your looking at ingredients in your products it will not say, CONTAINS PARABENS. In stead the ingredient list will look more like this, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.These ingredients are added to your deodorants, toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and makeups, among other products. Researchers have also found that some 90 percent of typical grocery items contain measurable amounts of parabens, which is why even those who steer clear of potentially harmful personal care products also carry parabens around in their bloodstreams.
How are people exposed to parabens?
- Touching, swallowing, or eating products that contain parabens. are swallowed or eaten. Parabens that enter the body are quickly excreted. Remember the graphic I showed you above? 26 seconds is all it takes.
Alright that was a lot of information to swallow so I am going to leave it at that. Decide what matters to you and what you want in your body. I encourage clean living as much as I can because it is what I believe in. Seeing my mom go through breast cancer was a real eye opener. Watching my best friends mom die of breast cancer…yet another eye opener. Seeing another dear friend’s dad dying of cancer when her was a very healthy man, slays me. Cancer and sickness is inevitable, we can’t control or predict the future, what will happen, will happen. But, can’t we try to live our best lives?
Some additional reading…
Thank you all for reading this! I will post another health/beauty tip next monday! If you have requests for any topics let me know in the comments below!
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At this point you guys know that I am an Arbonne girl. It is a product I believe in whole heartedly. Arbonne is a plant based. holistic, chemical free company. We sell skincare, baby care, makeup, bath & body, and nutrition.
I never want to be the pushy sales lady, instead I aim to be informative, because even if you never use Arbonne, I still want what is best for you and the environment.
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