What Does Paraben Free Mean and Why You Should Care

<p>When you see a hair care or skincare product that’s labeled as being paraben-free, you... safety,buying guide
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    When you see a hair care or skincare product that’s labeled as being paraben-free, you probably wonder what that means, and why it might be important. What are Parabens? Parabens are a form of preservative that is widely used in the cosmetic and personal care industry. Products like soaps, conditioners, moisturizers, shampoo and deodorant frequently contain parabens. Chemically speaking,

    What are Parabens?

    Parabens are a form of preservative that is widely used in the cosmetic and personal care industry. Products like soaps, conditioners, moisturizers, shampoo and deodorant frequently contain parabens. Chemically speaking, parabens is an ester—a compound molecule formed from a combination of acid and alcohol. Paraben occurs in products in various forms of esters, such as methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.

    Why Do Companies Use Parabens?

    Companies include parabens in their personal care products to extend the shelf life of the product. When the right portion of parabens is added, bacteria and fungi cannot grow in it.

    Are Parabens Dangerous?

    Starting in 2004, after a study that was published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology showed the presence of parabens in some breast tissue tumors, questions arose about their safety. While the Food and Drug Administration made an official announcement that the study “did not show a cause-effect relationship between parabens and breast cancer”, doubts remain in the scientific community. One such group, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done independent studies regarding paraben, and found that it’s possible for parabens to negatively impact the immune system, and may increase allergies and sensitivity. This may have secondary implications in susceptibility to cancer. Since parabens are rapidly absorbed into the body, the CDC has done scientific research and reported a widespread existence of parabens in the human body. However, only some governments have moved to act against parabens. In Europe, the use of certain parabens is prohibited in fragrances because it causes loss of skin pigmentation.

    Why Do I See More Products Labeled Paraben-Free?

    The movement to keep parabens out of products is an example of the consumer’s power. Individuals and groups have worked hard to spread the word about the possible harmful effects of parabens. Although the FDA continues to endorse parabens as safe, its history has been to say products are safe until proven otherwise, instead of vice versa. Health advocates believe in making sure an ingredient is safe before its use in a product, so have spread the word about the possible safety issue with parabens. The appearance of more paraben-free products on the market is due to manufacturers listening to consumers. If manufacturers feel their products are not going to sell because of paraben, it makes sense they’d look to alternative preservatives for their products. So now, when you shop for personal care products, it’s likely you’ll see more products with “paraben-free” clearly marked on the front of the label.

    The Need for Preservation

    Paraben is a synthetic preservative, its sole purpose to ensure safety and product quality. Manufacturers can’t remove parabens without adding another preservative to replace it. Personal care products travel thousands of miles in non-climate controlled trucks to make it to store shelves. Once there, the product must be inventoried, stocked, and may sit on the shelf for months before being purchased. It may sit in your bathroom or bedroom for more months before you use all the product. That’s a very long time for a product to stay fresh and safe to use, which is why manufacturers added parabens to begin with. The Alternatives to Paraben A paraben-free product doesn’t mean there’s no preservative in the product. It only means there’s no paraben in the product—an important

    The Alternatives to Paraben A paraben-free product doesn’t mean there’s no preservative in the product. It only means there’s no paraben in the product—an important

    A paraben-free product doesn’t mean there’s no preservative in the product. It only means there’s no paraben in the product—an important distinction, since now the replacement preservative becomes the issue. The potential danger is that the manufacturer may take out the paraben, only to replace it with another synthetic preservative equally or more dubious as far as health concerns. Since research on product ingredients is so time-consuming and costly, it may be another ten years before the dangers of that replacement synthetic preservative are discovered. A Better Alternative There are natural preservatives available to keep the contents of personal hair care and

    A Better Alternative 

    There are natural preservatives available to keep the contents of personal hair care and skincare products fresh and safe to use, such as citric acid, rosemary extract, and grapefruit seed extract. The best option is to avoid synthetic preservatives, not just parabens. Choose pure, natural products with ingredients you can understand without a science degree.