I like to think of myself as a reformed product junkie to ingredient junkie. Ingredients serve as food to our skin. What we apply to our skin and bathe with is very important to our overall health.
A paraben is a synthetic preservative that is inexpensive and commonly used in cosmetics, body wash, cleansers, shampoos, lotions to extend the shelf life by preventing the growth of bacteria. Simply put, many water based products and makeup commonly contain one or multiple parabens. Parabens were used to replace formaldehyde preservatives in the 1950s. Parabens come in various compounds such as ethylparabens, methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben and isobutylparaben which are banned in the EU.
Studies in the 90s showed that parabens mimic estrogen leading to various hormonal and reproductive issues in women and caused irritations for individuals with sensitive skin. In the early 2000s, parabens were found in great significance in cancer tumors. In leiu of health concerns, many manufactures and brands improved their formulas without parabens and promoted their products as "Paraben-free".
Alternatives for parabens are willow bark extract, grape seed extract and other botanical combinations to create short-term anti-fungal and anti-microbial benefits. Many paraben-free products will be packaged in dark colored containers for protection. When selecting your products, abide by the use-by date for the best benefits. In avoiding chemicals as much as possible, invest in paraben-free products for long term health benefits.