What’s The Big Deal with Parabens, Anyway?

May 2, 2019

The beauty industry is perennially abuzz with a boatload of trends: Fads to try, products to have, and ingredients to avoid. With the onslaught of information on everything from the most revolutionary eye cream to orgasmic blush, it’s no wonder that our makeup bags and bathroom shelves are crammed to the max.

So deep is our desire to find the ideal skincare regime and perfect product that we overwhelm ourselves with information. Knee-deep in data, we have to wonder:

Where do we stop, and where, really, do we begin?

If there’s one thing we shouldn’t ignore in the wild world of beauty news, it’s the potentially harmful side effects of synthetic ingredients.

In recent years, parabens—a chemical compound that’s been used in a number of cosmetic and personal products since the 1950s—has come under fire in the Western world. Unless you’ve been wearing blinders, surely you’ve seen products popping up that proudly tout themselves as paraben-free.

Consider it the gluten of the personal care sphere—we get that parabens aren’t necessarily good for us, but what’s the big deal with them, anyway?

Let’s break it down.

Parabens, often listed on labels as methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, are widely used as a preservative in a host of personal products. Ever wonder how a tube of toothpaste lasts for weeks without refrigeration, or why perfume doesn’t go rancid?

Parabens chemical formula

Acting as an antifungal and antimicrobial, parabens conserve everything from sunscreen and deodorant to mascara and shampoo. Economical and super effective at extending shelf lives, they were considered safe for nearly half a century.

Then, in the 1990s, parabens came under scrutiny when it was discovered that those additives that keep our face creams and conditioners from growing mold are xenoestrogens—that is, agents with biological activities that mimic estrogen in the body. Given that parabens penetrate our skin, they’re absorbed into our bloodstream and can bind to cellular estrogen receptors.

To put it plainly, parabens have been shown to heighten the expression of estrogen—a disruption that can lead to a range of complications, including obesity, endometriosis, low sperm count, birth defects, and infertility. Perhaps most alarming of all? The potential link between parabens and cancer.

In 2004, a hotly debated study helmed by Dr. Phillipa Darbre at the University of Reading in London found a notable concentration of parabens in human breast tumors. When the American Cancer Society deemed the study inconclusive due to the lack of a control group, Dr. Darbre preserved, and in 2013 uncovered that parabens can stimulate the growth of MCF-10A epithelial cells in the breast—a property that’s indicative of tumor growth.

Denmark, meanwhile, took matters into its own hands, announcing in 2010 a ban on consumer goods containing paraben for children under the age of 3.

In one study, Best Health reports, scientists in that country found that “propylparabens and butylparabens are just as potent as bisphenol-A, a hormone-disrupting petrochemical used to make plastics.”

And here’s a paradox: While frequently found in a number of anti-aging products, a Japanese study revealed that parabens may actually accelerate aging. Researchers at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine also determined that methylparabens increase sensitivity to and damage from the sun.

Do they prevent spoilage in your products? Sure—but they may be doing the exact opposite for your skin.

The debate continues today, with personal care companies like Aveda and Burt’s Bees discontinuing the inclusion of parabens in their products just as select chemists dismiss the claims against them.

The FDA, meanwhile, has taken a stance that’s wishy-washy at best, stating they believe at the present time that “there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens. However, the agency will continue to evaluate new data in this area.” They go on to say that if a health hazard exists, they will “advise the agency and the public, and will consider its legal options under the authority of the FD&C Act in protecting the health and welfare of consumers.”

As the FDA confirms, the bottom line is this: Cosmetic companies can use any ingredient they’d like, except for a select few that are prohibited by regulation.

It’s a terrifying thought—and also a necessary reminder to choose our personal products wisely.

Dr. Darbre was right when she went on record to say “the reason I’m keen on the personal-care products issue is that women have the option to stop using these things. I want to empower them to be able to make their own decisions.”

Here at Eavara, we couldn’t agree more. While the controversy on parabens is still out, Eavara’s commitment to natural beauty is always in. Rather than depending on a preservative that may prove to be indisputably dangerous in the future, we say, why take a risk at all? Rich in organic, botanical nutrients, our Age Defying Moisturizer is painstakingly created through state-of-the-art manufacturing to ensure that our product lasts without the addition of parabens.

We use only the highest-quality ingredients, knowing full well that what we put on our skin directly impacts our overall health and well-being. When it comes to parabens, we don’t just err on the side of caution—we promote the paradise we all have within.

Myth or fact, media hype or truth, Eavara stands by its pledge to protect and nourish your skin with only nature’s unquestionably-safe gems.

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