The Skinny on Parabens

This word has been thrown around for many years and in most cases have never been cast in a good light. In order to understand what we fear, we need to dig deep and discover what it is that we are fearing so first question is – What is Paraben?

Parabens in skin care and makeup are a group of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. They are used primarily for their bacteriocidal and fungicidal properties and without these preservatives, personal care products will get pretty nasty after being opened or even degrade on a drugstore shelf after a certain period of time. You can find parabens in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, personal lubricants, topical/parenteral pharmaceuticals and toothpaste and believe it or not, Parabens have also been used as food additives.

Since 2002, the concerns over Parabens are linked to breast cancer due to them acting like estrogen creating endocrine disruption. Study was shown that women who had breast cancers had shown levels of parabens in their system. However,(Excerpts from Dr. Weils) “Results of a study published in the October 16, 2002 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found no connection between the use of antiperspirants and breast cancer. The study was a large one, including more than 1,600 women, about half of whom had breast cancer. When the use of antiperspirants, deodorants and shaving the underarm area with a blade razor were compared, no increased risk of breast cancer was found.”

However the argument continued later in 2004 when “results of a study published in the January/February 2004 issue of the Journal of Applied Toxicology revealed traces of parabens in breast cancer tissue. That finding doesn’t mean that the parabens caused the breast cancer or even caused breast cancer cells to grow. The study did not reveal what other risk factors the women may have had.” (end excerpts)

Keep in mind too that many materials found in plants are used as food also have an estrogenic effect. These naturally occuring materials are called phytoestrogens and are present in soy and other fruits and vegetables. Some of these phytoestrogens, when tested in the same way as Parabens, give similar estrogen-like results. So does that mean we stop eating fruits and vegetables altogether bc since last I checked, they make up part of our four major food groups.

When it comes down to it, our moms and moms’ moms have all been using shampoos and conditioners all of their lives and not all of them have breast cancers. If Parabens are true killers and really linked to breast cancers, I would assume that every women out there will also have it – which I doubt that’s the case.

I’m not saying that we are in the clear – only yearly mamograms and monthly checkups can tell us that. I’m just saying that we should research the actual facts and not go by theories or heresay because let’s face it, media tends to blow things way out of proportion. Now that I have a clear understanding of what Parabens are, I hope you do too. However, don’t take my word for it. Do your research and find out what are your feelings on the ingredient. I’m personally impartial to it. If a product doesn’t contain parabens, great (it’s one of those better safe than sorry)! If it does, then I’ll keep that in mind, but I wouldn’t freak out over it. So the choice is up to you, but don’t let others choose or dictate your preference for you.


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  1. Yay for posting this!! I am so glad you took the time to inform yourself and others. I am always so irritated when some people are all freaking out about parabens and pthalates in their skincare products when there are much worse things in their microwave dinners and other processed foods which they ACTUALLY EAT (ie. sodium benzoate, etc) – not to mention that many of these preservatives and estrogen look-alikes are found naturally in plants. Everything in moderation – I truly believe a balanced diet and exercise is far more effective for leading a healthy life than freaking out about what skin cream you’re using.

  2. yes for sure! everything is in moderation. media plays a huge part in ppl’s paranoia but what can we do. def need to be proactive and do our own research =)

  3. Thanks for this informative post Mel!! I try to get things that are paraben free, but if parabens are way down there on the ingredient list then I’m not too worried! LOL!

  4. thanks for posting this xD i love informative posts!

  5. hey! thanks for this post. i completely agree with you that the media has blown this whole parabens thing out of proportion! i hate how people say that anything with parabens is bad. well…all i have to say is i’ve had allergic reactions to many products that claim to be (and probably are) parabens free. in the end, something that doesn’t contain parabens doesn’t mean it’s great, and something that does contain parabens doesn’t mean it should be tossed. there needs to be a balance in life. i think freaking/stressing out over parabens in beauty products is actually worse then the parabens in the product itself.

  6. yes! glad these informative posts are helpful! =D

  7. Thanks for the information… really helpful… now i understand more about Paraben… kekekeke…

  8. thanks for the helpful info!! i’m always concerned about what it’ll does and do. although i dont freak out over it, i guess i prefer things without more

  9. anytime girls! =)

  10. I can tell you how much this post will help others! I agree with Catherine, I get annoyed when people are freaked out about parabens but don’t actually understand why they would need to be freaked out. Great post!

  11. true dat!! we def need to know what it is that we fear instead of fearing it blindly.

  12. Kudos for talking about the FACTS!

    Parabens have NOT BEEN LINKED TO CANCER!

    There is a great blog post about this issue – you may find it interesting and it includes a video interview with Dr. Ahmed Abdullah:

  13. I have read a book similar to this topic “not just a pretty face” it talks about the stuff in cosmetics and the bad affects on humans. The average person uses at least five products a day and those product most likely contain chemicals and preservatives. Many product also contain fragrances to hide the horrible smell of chemicals.

  14. I’m curious because you were comparing fruits and vegetables to parabens. I know parabens act like preservatives or some kind of plastic for cosmetics. The study said they found traces of parabens in breast tissues of cancer patients.. now, did they find phytoestrogens too? I’m just trying to figure out if phytoestrogens affect us in a different way parabens do.

    But yes, moderation is the key. And don’t pile up makeup… no one ever looks good with a full face of make up, right?