Many of you have probably read blurbs or articles or heard people talking about the evils of parabens, and I am not here to contradict them. However, it is worth knowing which ones to avoid like the plague and which ones are, though not great, not nearly as harmful to the health of your skin, hair, and body.
If you read my post on how to start reading your cosmetic ingredient lists, you’ve already heard me mention Skin Deep, which ranks cosmetic products and their ingredients by how toxic/non-toxic they are to your system. Basically 0-2 is Good, 4-6 is Fair, and 7-10 is Dangerous (see the detailed explanation here). I would like to pass along what I found out when I did a search for parabens in their database.
10 PROPYLparaben is the big bad daddy paraben ranking a 10, or a high health hazard.
7 ISOBUTYLparaben, BUTYLparaben, ISOPROPYLparaben these three were all rated at 7 and definitely to be avoided as they are also high health hazards.
Skin Deep talks about different kinds of hazards from cancer to allergies. These parabens pose a threat to reproduction and development, so you especially don’t want a build-up of these in your system if you are trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant or nursing. Also, I would seriously avoid putting these on young children or even teens.
These parabens are a bit friendlier and commonly-used but still not 100% trustworthy:
4 Ethylparaben, Methylparaben
3 Undecylenoyl PEG 5 Paraben, 4-Hydrobenzoic Acid
Good guys O:-)
1 Isodecylparaben, Hexamidine Diparaben, Phenoxyethlparaben, Phenylparaben, Calcium Paraben, Potassium paraben, Sodium paraben
Parabens are in a LOT of products, and unfortunately, hand and eye creams, sunscreens, face washes, foundations and many, many other products use the baddies in addition to two or three other parabens, which is a bad combo. It’s all well and good for products to say they are paraben-free, but they may contain other objectionable ingredients. For example, my new deodorant doesn’t have any Aluminum, parabens, alcohol, OR fragrance, but it does have BHT, boooo!
*A quick side note: to reduce your vulnerability to undesirable ingredients in your deodorant/ antiperspirant, shave your underarms at night so your skin doesn’t have any small cuts or irritations that might make you more likely to absorb the harmful ingredients or get it into your bloodstream directly. Read more about deodorant ingredients and the debate about their side-effects here.
If you look in your medicine cabinet or makeup bag and discover a few products with Ethyl and/or Methylparabens, personally, I’d use them up and then find an alternative for next time, but I take the baddies seriously, especially when they are paired with BHT, which is a synthetic anti-oxidant and preservative that has been linked with cancer (read this article, and this description for more details).
So remember to read the list of ingredients for your cosmetics before you buy them as much as possible. Personally, I like to check them out online before I go to the store, and I refuse to buy anything for which I cannot find the complete list of ingredients. There are plenty of fish in the sea. An effective and safe product is out there, waiting for you to find it or make it!