We are increasingly aware of how what we consume can affect our health and that of our environment. The cosmetics: natural, cruelty-free, and, of course, paraben-free. But do you really know what parabens are, and why should you try not to use products that incorporate them?
What are parabens?
Parabens are components that are used as preservatives. They prevent the appearance of fungi and bacteria in cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical products, ensuring their effectiveness, quality and durability. Although it is true that some are of organic origin, those that are incorporated in cosmetics (creams, shower and shaving gels, toothpaste, shampoos, lubricants, etc.) are synthetic.
How do you know if a cosmetic contains parabens?
Look at the ingredient list on the package. They will appear as components ending in -paraben and, due to their low percentage, they will usually be at the bottom of the list. The most common allowed parabens in cosmetics are:
- Methylparaben (E218)
- Ethylparaben (E214)
- Propylparaben (E216)
There are others such as Isopropyl, Isobutyl, Phenyl, Benzyl or Pentyl, currently prohibited because their safety cannot be confirmed.
Why not use cosmetics with parabens?
The use of parabens has generated much debate about its effect on our health. In 2004 a study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology detected parabens, from products applied to the skin, in samples of women with breast cancer. Although a direct relationship was not confirmed, the hypothesis was maintained about whether parabens could be carcinogenic.
Since then, numerous studies have been carried out (mostly in animals, deficient or with results that are difficult to interpret) and more harmful effects have been suspected, including:
- Acting as endocrine disruptors: causing hormonal imbalances.
- Estrogenic effects.
- Alterations in the skin. Investigators from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine found that Methylparaben increased sensitivity. They are harmful with sun exposure, accelerate skin aging, and create allergic reactions.
The lack of conclusive studies on the risks of parabens remains key to continue to be considered officially "safe". The CIR confirms their safety in low concentrations and the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology adds that, in addition, they are metabolized and expelled through the urine (although other sources affirm the difficult topical synthesis and the accumulation of these as a result of constant exposure to cosmetics that integrate them).
To date, toxicity in humans has not yet been confirmed, but as The controversies of parabens – an overview nowadays: it has been reported in animals and in vitro studies. The EU has been reducing the allowed amount of parabens and has even banned the use of some of them. In addition, more and more brands are betting on not including suspicious ingredients and opting for healthy alternatives. Taking care of your health is our priority, and taking precautions is the best way to consume cosmetics without harming your well-being.
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