What are parabens? I’ve begun a series on why ingredients matter. This blog post is about parabens: what they are and where they hide.
What are Parabens?
Parabens have gotten a lot more buzz in the industry because of our personal care products top five most concerning ingredients. So, as a result, it’s more commonly known, and you’ll see more paraben-free labels.
In short, parabens are endocrine disruptors that creep into our bodies from our products, disrupting our hormones. Compared to many of the endocrine disruptors in our products, parabens are a pretty hard hitter. They go straight to the reproductive system, disrupt hormones in the body, and harm both men’s and women’s fertility and reproductive organs. In addition, they can affect birth outcomes and increase the risk of cancer.
One of the other minor side effects would be skin irritation.
Parabens are Artificial Preservatives
So what exactly are they? Parabens are a group of chemicals used as artificial preservatives. Commonly found in cosmetics and body care products, usually with high water concentrations. As a preservative, parabens make products last longer.
If you’ve ever made a loaf of bread at home, whether in a bread machine or you kneaded the dough yourself and baked it in the oven, it’s only going to last a day or two. Not just because it tastes so good and everybody ate it. But it will spoil because there are no preservatives in that bread.
Now, when it comes to cosmetics, makeup, and body care products, it’s a similar fashion. It will last longer than one or two days, but larger companies, especially mass-producing products, want their products to last as long as possible. They don’t want to put an end date, a discard-by date, or an expiration date on these products. Especially if they are going to last a week or two before expiring or becoming contaminated by mixing the formula of ingredients, they want something that will last a year or two. They’ve invested a lot of money, time, and energy into making these products. So they add artificial preservatives to prolong the shelf life of the products that they’re producing.
How Water Affects the Need for Parabens
Think of a tea bag. A tea bag has a good shelf life. However, once you add water to it and make it into a drinkable cup of tea, it will form mold spores within two days if left on the counter. Refrigerating it will prolong its freshness, but only for about two weeks. So once you mix the water with the tea bag, it should be consumed sooner rather than later. Mixing safe ingredients is fine. But once you add water, some of these ingredients can spoil. So many manufacturers add these artificial preservatives, otherwise known as parabens.
What Do Parabens Do?
As I mentioned, they disrupt hormones. They harm fertility and reproductive organs. Many studies have detective parabens in nearly all samples taken from adults in the USA, so no one is unscathed from it. But we can make a difference moving forward. We can try to minimize our exposure to parabens.
I don’t know how to escape this chemical warfare, so to speak, it comes to our care. However, minimizing is the key here. I am so minimizing our toxins and striving for a toxin-free home. Perfection is overrated. I think that progress over perfection is the mindset we need.
Do We Need Parabens in our Products?
No. Manufacturers can make products without preservatives. They can even be made very quickly without using parabens. Making the products in smaller batches may be required, though. However, adding water is not always necessary. Many of the more natural, safe ingredient personal care products are available in powder form. You add water when and as needed.
Where Are Parabens Found?
Some products with parabens are leave-on and rinse-off, especially those with high water content, such as shampoos and conditioners. Things that people use every single day. Their anti-microbial properties are most effective against fungi and gram-positive bacteria. So this keeps it from spoiling or having so much fun, guys. It is a spore. It is like mold. So it keeps it from forming that mold.
Others include moisturizers, face and skin cleaners, sunscreens, deodorant, shaving gels, toothpaste, and makeup. So, they put these parabens into our products, our moisturizers, face skin cleansers, sunscreens, deodorants, toothpaste, makeup, and shaving gels. Then we use those moisturizers and put them on our bodies. We put cleansers on our faces and sunscreen on our backs, deodorants under our arms, we use the shaving gel on our legs. Then, put toothpaste in our mouths. And it absorbs into our bodies. They’re absorbed straight through our skin.
Our Skin Is Our Largest Organ
Our skin is our largest organ. Can you hear me say that a lot? I don’t think it could ever be said too much. It matters. And anything put on your skin is just as good as putting in your body because it will hit your bloodstream faster than anything you put in your mouth.
Know Your Ingredients
The important thing here is to know your ingredients. It is a big red flag if a product does not have a list of ingredients.
If fragrance is listed anywhere on the list of ingredients, it is considered a proprietary blend, and the manufacturer is legally allowed to hide other elements inside. For example, parabens can still be in your product if fragrance is an ingredient, as they can be one of the secret ingredients in fragrance.
So be mindful. And if it says fragrance, that’s the biggest, like the second red flag if there’s. No ingredients listed first red flag. And then, if the ingredients have fragrance, this is the second red flag, as they are hiding something from you.
I’m grateful that some people pay attention to this, but they’re making products using the knowledge they’ve gained on what is safer for us. I’m so grateful for all these small businesses creating safe things for everyone.
It’s not the end of the world to have to make your products. But it is exhausting. It’s time-consuming. And frankly, I’ve got other things that others do with my day. So I’m glad there’s someplace where I can go and find these things that I enjoy using every day.
Where can I find products without Parabens?
If you are unfamiliar with our ECO CRATES, I encourage you to look at them. You can visit A Year of Crates to see what our subscriptions look like and the Made In the USA products we curate. In that case, every product we provide in our crates is free of parabens and many other harmful chemicals commonly found in our everyday products.
If you have littles, Sudsy Souls is a great resource and supplier of high-quality bath products for little kids, also free of harmful chemicals, including parabens.
Have a wonderful and Blessed week!