Parabens are preservatives and you’ll find them in all sorts of personal care and cosmetic products from skincare, shampoos and conditions, medications and many more. They do an extremely good job at killing both the fungi and bacteria that can find its way into your products.
What caused such hate?
1. In 1998 a paper showed very weak oestrogen-like effects.
The parabens studied were thousands of times weaker than estradiol – the naturally occurring female sex hormone. In addition, the parabens were either force fed or injected into rats – not applied topically to human skin. Do you inject your parabens? We thought not!
2. In 2004 The Darby Group reported parabens present in 20 different human breast tumours.
Tissue was obtained from cases of breast cancer and there were no controls/comparisons done with non-cancerous tissue. No controls make the study pretty much useless. Not to mention it was a ‘very’ small study.
What happened next?
The studies were misinterpreted, and all hell broke loose, basically! The media and scaremongers of the world took the information and used it for their own personal gains. A big thank you goes out to ‘clean beauty’ for this one.
To this day Parabens are one of the most heavily studied ingredients in the world and continue to be deemed safe and effective. They do not cause cancer. They are not considered dangerous. They most certainly won’t kill you.
What you should be worried about is the Paraben alternatives – preservatives that are now being used in place of parabens that don’t have nearly as much research to substantiate their safety.
Some alternatives, such as the ‘all natural’ ones only protect against fungi OR bacteria, not both. This is interesting because the same people who claim they are making products safer by using ‘natural’ alternatives are actually making these products less safe by using less effective preservatives.