Parabens – Toxic skincare

A selection of cosmetic products that could contain Parabens

What are parabens?

Parabens are cosmetic preservatives used to lengthen the shelf life of products. They can be found in shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, fake tan, toothpaste and deodorant. Parabens can be absorbed through the skin, blood and digestive system. Parabens are oestrogen mimickers. They can dock onto a cell receptor reserved for oestrogen and cause the cell to behave as if real oestrogen has docked.

All hormones in the body are released at specific times and in a specific order under the guidance of the endocrine system. When this becomes disrupted by oestrogen mimickers from outside sources (food, water, cosmetics, personal hygiene items), hormonal chaos ensues; cells send feedback to the endocrine system that they have received oestrogen when none was sent to them and the endocrine system responds with hormones which are not intended at this time. This can lead to irregular periods, too much oestrogen, not enough progesterone, not enough testosterone and range of other hormonal imbalances.

It is thought that frequent absorption of parabens from deodorants and other toiletries can make their way to the

Possible paraben side effects

Breast cancer

Parabens have been found in biopsies from breast tumours. A 2004 UK study detected traces of five parabens in the breast cancer tumours of 19 out of 20 women studied. In a separate study of 40 women being treated for primary breast cancer, the presence of paraben esters were detected in 99 percent of breast cancer tissues sampled. If cancerous tumours do develop, oestrogen can encourage their growth, which makes the disease much harder to beat. During breast cancer treatment, doctors try to decrease the levels of oestrogen in the body so that the tumour does not get any extra encouragement in its growth.

Weight gain

Endocrine disruptors are stored in the body’s fatty tissues and do not get flushed out with water, thus accumulating over the years. Oestrogen helps regulate the activity of fat cells, meaning that parabens can activate fat cells, increasing the chance of weight gain. High paraben concentrations in males have been linked to more body fat, lower muscle mass and gynecomastia (development of male breasts).

Premature aging

Researchers at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan found that methylparabens make your skin more sensitive to sun damage. In the study, skin cells that were treated with methylparabens and exposed to ultraviolet rays died at a much higher rate than skin cells that did not contain parabens. Skin that was treated with parabens was also found to have higher levels of lipid peroxide, a substance that speeds the skin’s appearance of aging.

Infertility/ reproductive abnormalities

Parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to reproductive toxicity. When your body’s hormones are out of balance, your ability to produce healthy eggs and sperm as well as your ability to ovulate and prepare the uterine lining (endometrium) to conceive and get pregnant becomes difficult and impaired. Since parabens are included in many baby and children’s toiletries, this could impact a girl’s reproductive health in her later years.

Abnormal foetal development

Although no conclusive study has been taken regarding the effect parabens can have on a foetus, anything that is put on the skin during pregnancy will penetrate the skin and could potentially reach the foetus. Scientists have documented hundreds of animals with genetic defects, such as frogs with extra legs, which they say could be the result of paraben pollution.

Sources of parabens

Deodorants and antiperspirants are some of the primary sources, but parabens, regardless of what products they’re added to, can accumulate in breast tissue. Parabens can still be found in products containing the words natural and organic; to be certain, always look out for the words:

  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • E216 and E128

These chemicals are commonly used in personal hygiene products, pharmaceutical drugs and food additives.

Alternatives we recommend

  • Deodorant: Natural salt deodorants provide equally effective protection, and are odour-free.
  • Shampoo and Soaps: You can find clean, non-chemical soaps at many health food stores. To make them better shampoos, you can add rosemary oil.
  • Moisturiser: Coconut oil makes an excellent face/body cream, especially if organic.
  • Toothpaste: Kingfisher toothpaste and Aloe Dent are great natural toothpastes.


Tags: , ,

About the Author