Parabens: What’s the deal?



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.

Baddies >:-0


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.

Creepers >;-*


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:-)


2 Benzylparaben

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!



Become BFFs with your Ingredients Label: Ground Rules

One of the most important life lessons I have learned has been to question everything and to doubt the “experts.” At the end of the day the best thing to do is to trust yourself and investigate first hand.

Here are a few tips to help you begin decoding ingredients lists:

  1. The higher it is on the list, the more of that substance is in the product, so the top three ingredients should be ones that you think are worth paying for.
  2. The longer the list, the more likely you will react to something negatively (especially if it has added fragrance).
  3. The more ingredients that don’t have easily recognizable or short names, the less natural it is, and the more time it will take you to decode it all and decide if it’s worth putting on your body.
  4. If it has parabens or lauryl/laureth sulfate in it, it AIN’T organic!
  5. Reading the list is the BEST way to know what your product can really do. For example, if it claims to be anti-aging but has no SPF or antioxidants and contains drying ingredients, then it’s just a claim.

Even experts such as dermatologists and cosmetic researchers will tell you that many ingredients like parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, and phthalates are “safe in low levels.” Please don’t believe this. Here is why: Take a moment and mentally walk into your bathroom and take out every single product that you put on your face, hair, or body or use to clean your mouth. How many are there? How many times a week or even a day do you use them? How many cups or pounds of the “safe-in-low-levels” ingredients do you think you use over the course of a year? All of that is being absorbed into your body through your hair, skin or mouth, affecting your body chemistry.

I’m not telling you to start washing your hair with baking soda or to only buy “all natural” or “organic” brands. They sometimes contain just as much crap. What I am saying is that now, you have the keys to the kingdom, so start using them!

This website is very helpful: Skin Deep. Even if your product or brand has not been rated, you can examine each ingredient that you’re not familiar with and learn about what it is used for and its level of toxicity. Here’s an article that really helped me: Learn How to Read Cosmetic Labels

Knowledge is power. Challenge and investigate anything and everything that doesn’t seem quite right to you. At the very least, you’ll learn something new. At most, you could save yourself anxiety and protect your well-being.

If you’re like me, you worry all the time about seeming rude, impertinent, or paranoid if you speak up, but enough of all that! Remember what is at stake: your health, your peace of mind, and your self-respect. Don’t these things merit ruffling some feathers, altering your habits, cutting out products, or even changing doctors? You are worth it.