Parabens is the name of a group of synthetic preservatives found in a wide variety of today’s skin care products. Most regular skin care and hygiene products contain parabens, and if not it usually says paraben-free on the label.
Some say to avoid them like the plague, while others tell you they are safe, or at least okay. I do avoid them as much as I can. Personally I don’t buy products with parabens, although I don’t beat myself up about it if I happen to use something with parabens sometime.
Are parabens bad for your skin?
Well, it is possible to get an allergic reaction like a skin rash. But as far as the researchers know, parabens aren’t really directly bad for your skin.
But there are other possible dangers of parabens, that aren’t directly related to your skin.
Some studies show that they affect your hormones. For example, they can imitate estrogen hormones which may promote breast cancer. So if they contribute to a hormonal imbalance, it is possible that this also causes your skin to react and for example break out, although this would probably be after long term use.
Another study shows that they can negatively affect the male reproductive system. Most studies are probably done with animals, but it’s possible that we’ll react in a similar way as other mammals.
Surely a lot of companies have vested interest in proving that parabens are harmless so they can keep parabens in their products, since it is a cheap way to increase shelf life.
So, are parabens bad for your skin? We don’t really know. For a lot of people they do nothing to their skin. But it is too early to say if they are harmful or not.
If you look at The Cosmetics Safety Database on propylparaben, then it does look like a risky ingredient.
So what you should ask yourself is; am I willing to take the risk? It might be a small one, but it is a risk. Is it worth buying that shampoo or lotion without looking at the ingredients? Both cheap and expensive products are likely to contain some sort of parabens.
Some people don’t worry about it at all, but as I said, I like to use paraben-free skin care products. I feel like why bother with synthetic preservatives when you can use products preserved with natural vitamin E which will even give your skin benefits.
If you’re curious, I use the 100% natural skin care products made by Xtend-Life. I’m sure there are many other great ones out there, but I like what I have right now 😉