the debate about parabens

Throughout all the research I’ve been doing with regards to non-toxic body products, cosmetics and makeup, the most-hotly debated ingredient seems to come from the family of parabens.

What are are Parabens?

Parabens are chemicals which are used in cosmetics and body care products used to prolong  or enhance shelf-life. Sounds fine, right? Except that these preservatives have been linked to  estrogen abnormalities. And any increase of estrogen production is linked with breast cancer.

So I should avoid them at all costs right?

Not so fast – yes in an ideal world, paraben-free cosmetics would be easy to find, but they’re not.  And what makes this discussion tricky is that the FDA has no jurisdiction on the cosmetics industry – so there are no official rules or guidelines for companies to follow with regards to what they can and cannot include in their ingredients.  It’s quite difficult to easily access the list of full ingredients for each product – and it requires some digging.

What are the other ingredients in the Paraben family to avoid?

Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Isoparaben or Butylparaben.

Here are a couple of articles I found interesting to show you all sides of this debate:

1) Paraben-Free Cosmetics 

2) Paraben-Free Should You Care? From LA Times.

3) Parabens from the site.

So what does this mean?

I’ve decided that Parabens are something I can do without in my beauty products. I read somewhere that women are exposed to more than 200 chemicals in any given day due to their beauty routine, and I’d like to limit my exposure, especially to something that has an effect on estrogen. (Which you’ll remember, estrogen “feeds” my cancer growth.) I’ve spent the better part of the last 3 days researching online “safe” cosmetics and products and cleaning out my cabinets. I’ve managed to find body creams, lotions and hair products that are paraben-free. (Burts Bees, Alba Botanica, Josie Maran Cosmetics, CV Skinlabs)

I’ve also stumbled upon a new company created by the former founder of Aveda called Intelligent Nutrients – which looks interesting.

I’ve had to say a tearful farewell to some of my favorite and trusty beauty products – The Body Shop’s Almond Body Butter, Jouer illumining tinted moisturizer, Moroccan Oil Shampoo + Conditioner, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer and Benefit Girl Meets Pearl, to name a few. Sigh.

What if I’m not ready to do a major haul commitment but I want to incorporate some changes?

The easiest thing would be to go through your stash of sunscreen products and toss any that have a SPF higher than 30 or  contain anything in the paraben family. (You also want to avoid any sunscreen sprays too so you don’t accidentally breathe any toxic chemicals.) Go to Whole Foods or the natural products aisle of any upscale market and spend some time browsing for non-toxic sunscreens.

Believe it or not, I found Nuetrogena sunscreens have paraben in them! 

There’s so much more I’m learning, and don’t even get me started on my hunt for non-toxic mascara! I’ll save that for another time.



4 Responses

  1. Jen-
    I heard a lot of Keihl’s products are Paraben free. It’s called out in the product description. In fact. Just did a check..if you go on their site and search paraben free, you’ll get a list of 51 products. I love and use most of their skin care products.. I heard the tinted moisturizer is Paraben free and great..
    So, I hd to check my other must-have.. I am obcessed with Meyers cleaning products (faves are the hand soap and dish soap- lavender scent).. also Paraben free!

  2. Hi Jen, Lauren found a wonderful hand and body lotion and turned me on to it. It feels great and smells great and I just checked, It is paraben free. It is called the naked bee. The fragrence we have is orange blossom honey. Check it out online. I couldn’t find it here but ordered it from Amazon. I hope this finds you feeling better and healing well. Love, Suzy

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