What are parabens?
The simple answer is that parabens are chemicals used as preservatives in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and in food and beverage processing. The main types are methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butyl-parabens (check for these on the labels of your favorite products, and then replace them with something better). The more complicated answer is that parabens are believed to be endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxins.
Why should I care?
Because endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxins are chemicals that interfere with hormones and disrupt normal growth and development of intelligence and reproductive capabilities. The average woman in the U.S. uses around 12 personal care products a day, while the average teenage girl uses up to 17! If all of these products contain parabens, even in small amounts, that is a lot of toxic chemicals entering your body every day. Imagine the effect this could have over a lifetime of makeup use. You might be thinking that you are safe because you only put cosmetics on your body, not in it. Make no mistake – if you are putting something on your body (i.e.: makeup, lipstick, glitter, etc) it is going in your body.
If parabens are so dangerous why are they in my makeup?
Many people believe that some government agency, like the FDA, regulates what goes into your makeup. That if you can buy a product at your local drugstore or department store, it must be safe. This is not always the case. There is very little government regulation over cosmetics. Companies are not required by the U.S. government to perform health studies or pre-market safety testing on cosmetics. Companies can use just about any chemical they want in your makeup and they aren’t even required to disclose to you what those chemicals are.
What can I do to protect my family?
Read labels – but remember, not all ingredients have to be listed on cosmetics. If it is paraben free it will say so, this is an accomplishment that cosmetic companies are proud of and they will flaunt it! Also, keep in mind that claims like “organic”, “natural” or “dermatologist tested” are not regulated for use on cosmetics and do not mean a product is safe. Do you research and refuse to buy or use cosmetics or personal care products containing these questionable chemicals.