There are so many toxic chemicals out there that is really hard to keep track of all of them, remember why they’re dangerous and where they can be found. Learning about them can also feel overwhelming and at times I’ve felt like I want to move to a cave and keep my girls away from it all.
But we all know that is not possible, nor the right solution. As a mom, I’ve come to realize that I have to educate myself on the topic and keep away from my family toxic chemicals that can be interfere with their health. You can’t avoid the exposure to harmful chemicals but you can definitively minimize it. The best way is to start by clearing up your home from products that could eventually lead to health issues.
One of those chemicals I like to stay away from is Parabens. Luckily it has a name easy enough to remember and spot when checking an ingredient list, which makes it easy to figure out when a product has it. Plus a lot of products now even state when they’re paraben-free.
In this post I’ll go over what are Parabens, why they’re dangerous and how to avoid them.
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What is Paraben?
Paraben is a preservative, it’s a chemical added to products so they last longer. It helps keeps things like cosmetics, personal care products (including baby products) and pharmaceuticals from spoiling, growing bacteria and microbes. The reason why they’re so commonly used it’s because they are cost effective to produce.
You may think adding a preservative that avoid something from spoiling is a good thing. No one wants to use products that are growing mold and bacteria but there are safer ingredients that companies can use to preserve products and ones that don’t compromise our health.
So, why are Parabens dangerous?
Parabens have been studied for a while but depending who you ask the information is inconclusive. The government thinks the low amount in the products is safe for humans while some other studies have linked Parabens to things like breast cancer. There is also the whole issue about this chemical building up in our bodies. While the little bit in one product may not be a concern, everyone uses more than one product so it ends up being a lot and it accumulates over time.
Parabens are an endocrine disruptor, which means they interfere with our hormones. They mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen in our bodies. The use of parabens has been linked to breast cancer, the development of cancerous tumors and reproductive issues, such a decrease in sperm levels.
Some entities say it’s unethical to study its effects on humans so a lot of this information is coming from studies that looked into cancer tissue and studies with animals. The biggest problem I see is that we don’t know how harmful the accumulative effects of parabens are and since they’re in so many products we are putting big quantities of it on our bodies.
In my opinion, is better to err on the side caution and avoid Paraben exposure. There is enough evidence out there to opt to look for products that don’t contain parabens and there are enough paraben-free options out there so that we can make safer choices when shopping. Plus, anything considered an endocrine disruptor should be avoided.
Keep in mind that children are even more sensitive to endocrine disruptors since they’re little bodies are forming and growing. It is especially important to keep them away from parabens.
How to spot Parabens?
You can check the ingredient list on the product that you’re buying, if it contains parabens it will be most likely under one of these names: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben or isobutylparaben. Sometimes products can contains parabens even if the word “paraben” is not listed. The ingredients to watch out for are the ones that start with ethyl, butyl, methyl and propyl, as well as Fragrances.
Many chemicals used to create fragrances contain parabens and unfortunately fragrances don’t have much regulation. This means there are a lot of questionable chemicals used to create a fragrance and they don’t have to be listed in the ingredient list since they are just listed as “fragrance”. You can use products that contain essential oils but if you see the word fragance listed on a product, it’s best to stay away from it.
If you’re unsure about a product or the ingredients, you can consult the Skin Deep cosmetic database Skin Deep cosmetic database and the guide to healthy cleaning from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). They also have an app where you can scan a product and see what rating it gets as well as what are the ingredients of concern.
How to stay away from Parabens?
Parabens are mostly in personal care products. One way to avoid this chemical is to look for products that say “paraben-free” on their label. A lot of companies are aware many consumers are worried about this issue so they’re using other alternatives. However, paraben-free may not be enough, so double check on the EWG site mentioned above to make sure it doesn’t contain other harmful ingredients.
You can also make your own DIY products. They’re very easy to make, you know exactly what’s in them and they’re very affordable. You can find recipes for DIY body products here and for cleaning products here.
When it comes to beauty and personal care products (especially the ones for me) we buy directly from Beautycounter since they have banned over 1400 chemicals from their products (one of those chemicals is Paraben) and they have a great rating with the Environmental Working Group. We’ve been using their products for a while and I recently join them since I love what they stand for and all they’re doing to create safer products. You can join my Beautycounter Facebook group if you have specific questions about personal care products – you can ask about any brand you have concerns with not only Beautycounter.
One thing I do before I start using a new product in my home is that I read the ingredient list and research what I don’t know. It’s a process but it’s worth it because you know you’re buying a safer alternative for your family. This is also why when I find something I like, I stick to it.
Regardless of the product you’re buying it’s a good idea to look into the ingredients or do a quick check in the EWG site. You will most likely keep buying this product so make sure it’s safe, especially if you plan to get pregnant and/or have small kids.
Now that you know a little bit about parabens I hope you take some caution and stay away from these chemicals. My hope is that more companies realize we don’t like harmful chemicals in every day products. If a lot of us stay away from toxic chemicals, companies will be forced to make and sell safer products and this is so important not only for us, but for our children.
What is your favorite Paraben-free product? Leave a comment down below.