Oct 30th, 2019 ・ Ksenia Selivanova

BoOoO here comes one of the most feared ingredients: Parabens

BoOoO here comes one of the most feared ingredients: Parabens

What are parabens? Parabens are derived from the processing of petroleum. They are mainly used for their fungicidal properties (they help to better conserve products and extend shelf life). They are great warriors fighting against mold and yeast, but less effective against bacteria. So why all the controversy? There are positives and negatives to both, so we’ll let you make your own judgement on if this ingredient is good or evil.

“Paraben-Free” skincare products do not mean that they are automatically ‘better’ for the skin. What is disturbing about parabens is that there is some evidence that in particular formulations they are so strong that they can penetrate the layers of the skin. There is also a possible link between parabens and breast cancer, but this still needs more research, as there is a lack of clinicals to back this huge claim. Parabens are not officially identified or listed as an endocrine disrupting chemical by any government, medical or regulatory organisation so if you like to play by the rules this product is not considered to be “toxic”.

The other side of this argument is “PARABENS ARE KILLING YOU”. Well not killing you, that’s pretty dramatic, but if you are following the school of thought shared by ‘natural’ skincare influencers such as Gwyneth Paltrow from Goop or Imelda Burke (author of the “The Nature of Beauty”), then parabens are NOT good for your skin or health. In fact, their belief is that, although evidence is more anecdotal, if these products are disrupting your endocrine system then they should be avoided.

This school of thought also believes that since parabens impersonate our own hormones they can have, long-term, very damaging effects such as reproductive issues, birth defects, metabolic problems, and cancer.

Having said that, parabens are present in very low quantities in skincare products and they do have importance in formulations. Using a “paraben-free” product is a personal choice, not a guarantee that the product is better!

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For more skincare wisdom like this, check out our podcast The Skinterview. Each week, we interview a skincare expert on the topics that really matter, demystifying complex concepts, busting beauty myths and sharing honest reviews!