As I was surfing through the many aisles of a neighborhood shopping mart, reading through the ingredients on the label of many cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and even food items, I noticed that various products such as shampoos, creams, foundations, lipsticks, toothpastes, shaving creams have a commonly listed ingredient—Paraben. On reading more, I realized that paraben has different compositions with names like Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben and Alkyl parahydroxy benzoates. To my surprise, there were also many products like shampoos, creams, sunscreens that claimed that they were Paraben free! That got me thinking—does it mean that Paraben is not a desirable ingredient? If yes, then why is it present in so many popular products? My curiosity got the better of me and I found quite a lot of insights via research and published studies about parabens. Lets look at a few
History of Parabens:
Parabens were discovered as naturally occurring chemicals in many fruits like berries in around 1924. Paraben was found to be an effective preservative that could fight many bacterias, fungi, molds and yeasts. Because of its properties. parabens were initially used as preservatives in pharmaceuticals. As they were natural, it was determined that they cause no harmful effect on humans as they could be easily broken down in the human body. By 1950 artificial parabens were created and were found to be very inexpensive and effective in serving the purpose as a preservative.
They have become so popular that today 85% of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food products contain parabens as preservatives.
Then why are we looking to use paraben-free products today? Why do many products avoid adding parabens and boast of being paraben-free?
The answer to these questions took me back a few decades. In 1990, a research revealed that Parabens could be playing havoc with our bodies.
Let’s see how:
Parabens are now known to cause hormonal disruption in the body. Parabens are believed to mimic the estrogen hormones in the body. This leads to the body to perceive parabens as additional hormones, thereby causing a hormonal imbalance in the body.
Breast cancer: A study has revealed the presence of parabens in the breast cancer’s tumors of many women. Although, a direct relationship between cancer and parabens could not be established, it shows that parabens are getting absorbed by the body instead of being broken down and getting washed out of the body, as it was earlier believed to be.
Other effects of hormonal disturbances: This estrogen imbalance in human bodies can cause many more problems, especially for women this imbalance can cause developmental issues, fertility issues, chronic diseases like PMS, ovarian cysts, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer. In males it can affect the sperm count, suppressed androgens.
Increase irritation or skin sensitivity:
Although the numbers are less but some people have shown allergies, skin irritation and increase in skin sensitivity due to exposure to parabens, which is most commonly due to use of cosmetics applied externally on skin.
Reaction to sunlight:
A research has shown connection between skin aging and wrinkles due to parabens found in sunscreens, creams and foundations. It is believed that when parabens combine with UVB they make the skin mature faster and leads to formation of wrinkles on the skin and in some cases causes skin cancer and damage to DNA.
Effects on hair:
Parabens have been found to pull out moisture from the hair and scalp, thereby, leaving them dry, frizzy, lifeless and brittle. Today we find many shampoos claiming to be free from many chemicals including parabens and more and more people are opting for safer organic, paraben-free products.
Today, the scrutiny over parabens is leading to further research on these harmful preservatives.
Parabens are not only affecting us directly but also affecting indirectly by causing deteriorating effects on the environment.
Parabens are being found in water bodies, entering through our sewerage system and marine animals are getting affected due to this. Parabens were found in the bodies of many marine animals like dolphins and other marine mammals and even in polar bears. An extensive study is going on to determine its effects on these marine animals. This extensive research on parabens forced me to ask this question to myself—am I ready to put myself through all this just because parabens are most profitable to these companies that manufacture cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food products. Will I wait for all the studies to get completed and give a 100% connection to parabens with deadly diseases like breast cancer, skin cancer or a hormonal imbalance in the body, or should I go by the golden rule of “prevention is better than cure”. So, let’s opt for products that cause no fear in our minds. Our handcrafted Rooted products are not only organic and nourishing but also assure us with natural preservatives and natural harmless ingredients.